The Nonfiction To Buy For Dad This Year

Is it a rule that when you become a father, your interest in military history increases ten-fold? And you develop a deep appreciation for long-form sports journalism? Anyway, here are 13 nonfiction books your dad will love.

I don't mean to stereotype fathers, especially not in light of the start of Father's Day. First celebrated in 1910, the holiday arose after the daughter of a single father sat through a Mother's Day sermon in church and felt her dad, a Civil War veteran who had raised six children, deserved some appreciation, too. On June 19, people passed out red roses (and white ones for remembrances) to fathers throughout Spokane, Wash. How distinctly different is that first tender, floral celebration from the current Father's Day ~vibe~, featuring outdoor grilling and beer and baseball?

Again, I don't mean to play on dad tropes, but as a bookseller, I have seen, firsthand, the truly mind-boggling number of fathers who immediately gravitate to the historical nonfiction section of the store, and spend the next 30 minutes perusing titles covering everything from Nixon to Sacagawea.

This year, why not gift your dad something he loves (no, he doesn't love that tie) - a non-fiction book. A great non-fiction book. A non-fiction book he'll want to share with all the other non-fiction loving dads at the block party.


'Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life' by William Finnegan

Ideal for West Coast dads or fathers with a travel bug, Barbarian Days paints a portrait of 1960s America through the lens of surfing culture in California and Hawaii, in Samoa and Tonga and Indonesia, and countless other spots where the waves are big and the adventure is clear.

Click here to buy.


'Between The World And Me' by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Composed as a letter to his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between The World and Me proves a shattering portrait of race, class and violence in America. "This is your country, this is your world, this is your body," he writes, "And you must find some way to live within all of it."

Click here to buy.


'The Defender: How The Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America' by Ethan Michaeli

Founded in 1905, The Defender, a historically Black newspaper, was smuggled into the most isolated Southern communities and recognized (and organized) the electoral power of Black voters. It gave columns to groundbreaking writers like Langston Hughes and Ida B. Wells. It revolutionized journalism.

Click here to buy.


'A Walk In The Woods' by Bill Bryson

Aww, sweet Bill Bryson. In A Walk In The Woods, he takes us through the Appalachian Trail, its history, its ecology, and most importantly, its people. If you read Wild and were like, "Oh I think my dad would like this long-distance hiking thing but it would be weird for me to give this book to him due to the sex and the drugs," then ta-da! This is your solution.

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'Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal' by Mary Roach

Professional curious person Mary Roach is always a prime pick for dads (and anyone, honestly). She picks a topic and she digs deep - really, really, unsettlingly, fascinatingly deep. Gulp explores every question you've ever had about food, and then some.

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'Astrophysics For People In A Hurry' by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Warning: gift your dad Neil deGrasse Tyson's Astrophysics for People In A Hurry, and you'll be hearing fun facts about "the nature of space and time" for the foreseeable future.

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'You Don't Have to Say You Love Me' by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie's new memoir, You Don't Have To Say You Love Me, chronicles his complicated, mercurial relationship with his mother in the wake of her death.

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'Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)' by David Sedaris

The first of two volumes, Theft by Finding is an actual collection of David Sedaris' diary entries. Dive into the delightfully bizarre inner world of Sedaris, arguably the funniest contemporary essayist.

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'Jim Henson: The Biography' by Brian Jay Jones

I mean, hi, Jim Henson is a cultural icon, particularly for the dads who loved watching Sesame Street just as much as their kids (you know who you are). Jim Henson: The Biography chronicles the brief, bright life of a deeply creative, remarkably driven dude.

Click here to buy.


'32 Yolks' by Eric Ripert

The perfect gift for foodie dads, 32 Yolks is the deeply moving coming-of-age story of culinary icon Eric Ripert, of Le Bernadin and Top Chef fame.

Click here to buy.


'The March Trilogy' by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

March, a graphic novel trilogy, walks through Congressman John Lewis' history as a Civil Rights leader firsthand.

Click here to buy.


'No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need' by Naomi Klein

If your sweet, liberal dad is feeling bummed at the state of the world, gift him Naomi Klein's No Is Not Enough, a meditation on the "brand bullies" that have risen through the ranks for the past half-century, and a road map for survival.

Click here to buy.


'Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam' by Mark Bowden

With unprecedented access to interviews and documents from both sides of the Vietnam War, Mark Bowden re-creates the bloodiest battle of the entire war in Hue 1968, the moment the American army ceased talk of winning and turned their attention to simply ending the conflict.

Click here to buy.


'Alexander Hamilton' by Ron Chernow

Arguably the most influential historical biography of the decade, Alexander Hamilton proved the spark of inspiration for Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical Hamilton. What will it spark for your dad?

Click here to buy.