Reading a book together with another person can add a whole new dimension to your reading experience; that's why book club discussions are so popular. But when was the last time you read a book with your father? I actually do this a lot — so I can tell you that it's a wonderful way to read, and a great way to build your relationship with your dad.
Novels are incredible at helping us to understand new perspectives and different life experiences — and chances are, you and your dad have had very different lives. Whether it's because of a big age gap or a gender difference, whether it's because only one of you had the chance to go to college, or whether it's because you grew up with very different amounts of money, there are a ton of things about each other that you and your father might not instantly know.
Communicating these differences isn't always easy — but books are pretty fantastic at getting the job done. If you come from a book-loving family, swapping novels and talking about your thoughts on them can be a great way to cover some important topics with your father, perhaps help each other understand your differing beliefs and politics, and get absorbed in a fun story in the process. Here are nine that you and your dad might love.
1. Shelter by Jung Yun
Shelter is a powerful novel that explores father-child relationships from all angles. Kyung Cho is a young father, struggling to support his wife and child, when his parents are involved in an act of violence that leaves them unable to care for themselves. Despite the lack of affection Kyung ever received from them growing up, he feels compelled to care for them — and along the way, he has to explore what it means to be a father, and to be a child.
2. A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandez
Where Shelter explores fatherhood, Daisy Hernandez's feminist memoir A Cup of Water Under My Bed explores what it means to be someone's daughter. Reading both of these books together with help you and your father learn more and more about each other's perspectives in life.
3. Stoner by John Williams
Stoner is a slow and sad story of a hopeful young man growing up never quite to achieve his goals. His loveless marriage brings him only one joy: his beloved daughter. This book will break your heart, but it will also help you understand some of the pressures of masculinity that your father may have struggled against.
4. The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
Your father may have faced struggles you never understood — but he also needs to understand the pressures of being a young woman today. Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth will open your father's eyes to some of the ways the world has tried to tear you down.
5. The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father by Kao Kalia Yang
The Song Poet is a love letter to Kao Kalia Yang's father — and an acknowledgement of everything he sacrificed to give his children a better life. It's an incredibly moving story of the father-child bond that will most likely have you and your dad in tears. But hey, what's better than sharing a box of tissue to help bring you closer?
6. Emma by Jane Austen
As literary father-daughter relationships go, the one between Emma Woodhouse and her father has got to be one of my favorites. Mr Woodhouse is a hypochondriac who only wants the best for his daughter — but he often lets his anxieties get in the way of judging what that might be. Emma, flawed as she is, has the patience of a saint for putting up with him — and her decision to ignore tradition and remain in her father's house after she marries is very touching.
7. The Castle of Adventure by Enid Blyton
It doesn't matter what age group they're actually aimed at: fathers and children alike can get lost in a good adventure story — and classic British children's book The Castle of Adventure is one of the best. My own father used to read this to me almost every night growing up — and when I had to have surgery a few months ago, he didn't let the fact that I'm 25 now get in the way of him reading me a few chapters.
8. What Sunny Saw in the Flames by Nnedi Okorafor
Old-fashioned stories like The Castle of Adventure can be wonderful — but it was written in the 1940s, and you'll notice that the boys tend to have most of the fun. To even the playing field, try this fantasy adventure about 12-year-old Sunny, who has to use her magical powers to defeat the murderous Black Hat Otokoto.
9. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
If all else fails, everyone enjoys The Princess Bride. It doesn't matter what your interests are, whether you like romance or adventure, action or comedy — there is something for everyone in William Goldman's beloved (and ridiculous) fantasy novel. Reading this book with my father had us both laughing out loud and gasping in fright in equal measure — but most of all, it had us talking about it together for weeks.
Image: Universal Pictures