Elizabeth Entenman
December 13, 2017 11:56 am

Ah, dear ol’ dad. He teaches you important life lessons, makes you laugh, and is always just a phone call away when you need him. He’s the best guy you know, but sometimes, he’s downright impossible to shop for. (Remember the Father’s Day rush?) If you’re stressing about what to get him this holiday season, fear not — this year is going to be a breeze. Because we know exactly what your dad wants: a good book. No, seriously. These books for dad are guaranteed to be a hit.

This list includes biographies of musicians, movie stars, and politicians. Plus, there are memoirs that will seriously make him think. We’re talking an astronaut and a brain surgeon, people. Dads eat that up. Don’t forget legal thrillers, spy novels, and historical fiction books. Oh yes, there are tons of books for history lovers. Politics too, because let’s be honest: No list of books for dad is complete without a few books about politics.

Even if your dad or dad figure isn’t big into reading, we think he’ll still find a few titles on this list appealing. So stick one in his stocking, place one under the tree, and sit back knowing you absolutely crushed the gift game this year. Here are 15 books for dad that he’ll actually read!

1Lou Reed: A Life by Anthony DeCurtis

Little, Brown and Company

Dads love biographies. And dads love Lou Reed. Therefore, your dad will love this biography about Lou Reed, one of the most influential music icons of all time.

2A Column of Fire by Ken Follett


This is the third installment in Ken Follett’s Kingsbridge novels. If your dad hasn’t already read The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, you should definitely pick those up too. Combined, they’ll give him almost 3,000 pages of classic historical fiction reading.

3Wayne and Ford by Nancy Schoenberger

Nan A. Talese

If your dad is a film buff — specifically a western lover — pick up Wayne and Ford: The Films, Friendship, and the Forging of an American Hero. Bonus points if you offer to have a western movie marathon with him during the holidays.

4A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré


We’re willing to bet that your dad is a huge fan of George Smiley. Don’t know who that is? Trust us — he does. Stick A Legacy of Spies in his stocking now and thank us later.

5Ask an Astronaut by Tim Peake

Little, Brown and Company

Dads love fun facts. And Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space is full of them. Get ready for him to share everything from what happens when you sneeze in space to how astronauts wash their clothes while in orbit.

6Blitt by Barry Blitt

Riverhead Books

If your dad likes political humor, pick up Blitt, a collection of Barry Blitt’s best political cartoons from the past few decades. It also includes never-before-seen sketches, drafts, essays, and hand-written annotations from Blitt’s personal archives.

7The Three Lives of James Madison by Noah Feldman

Random House

Step aside, Alexander Hamilton, because there’s a new politician in town. Well, you know what we mean. History-loving dads will enjoy The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President. It offers a more in-depth look at the Father of the Constitution, aka the guy who wrote 29 of The Federalist Papers.

8The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Doubleday Books

Add this legal thriller to his to-read list.

9The Future is History by Masha Gessen

Riverhead Books

Say hello to the winner of the 201 National Book Award in nonfiction. The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia follows seven individuals and explains how Russia returned to a state of totalitarianism. It couldn’t be more relevant right now.

10Admissions: Life as a Brain Surgeon by Henry Marsh

St. Martin’s Press

Yes, Henry Marsh’s latest medical memoir is about his life as a brain surgeon. But it’s also about his thoughts and fears of retiring.

11Inside Camp David by Michael Giorgione

Little, Brown and Company

Camp David has never been open to the public. But in Inside Camp David: The Private World of the Presidential Retreat, you can finally get a glimpse of the compound located deep in the woods. Sounds like a dad’s dream.

12Chronicles of a Liquid Society by Umberto Eco

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

If your dad likes essays, he’ll enjoy this (translated) collection of pieces previously published in Italy’s L’Espresso magazine. Umberto Eco provides commentary fit for a Baby Boomer on everything from pop culture to politics.

13The Friendly Orange Glow by Brian Dear

Pantheon Books

Tech-savvy dads will nerd out over The Friendly Orange Glow: The Untold Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture. Then, he’ll likely wax poetic about Steve Jobs’s legacy for a few days.

14Hellfire Boys by Theo Emery

Little, Brown and Company

There are tons of history books on this list, but here’s one more big one. Hellfire Boys: The Birth of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service and the Race for the World’s Deadliest Weapons is perfect for armchair historians.

15Ramp Hollow by Steven Stoll

Hill & Wang

Ok, one last history book. This one’s about the rise of the Appalachian homestead and the generations who lived there. It’s seriously in-depth, and as books for dads go, we think he’ll love it.