PEOPLE Picks Our Favorite Fiction and Nonfiction Dad Books for Father's Day

With options in fiction, nonfiction, memoir and spanning topics from history to sports to spirits, there's a gift for every dad on this list

Father's Day Books

Father's Day is right around the corner, and it can be tough to pick out the right present for the occasion, year after year.

Once the kids have graduated from the era of macaroni art, he's got enough whimsical socks to outfit a centipede and he's all set on grilling gadgets and golf gear — or if you're looking for something with a little more personalized panache — a great read is always a sure bet.

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Here are just a few favorites PEOPLE staff have given, gotten and enjoyed for Father's Day. Order one for this year, then save a few for the next round. Gifting dilemma: solved.

'11/22/63: A Novel' by Stephen King

<p>Scribner</p> 11/22/63 by Stephen King


11/22/63 by Stephen King

We all know the story, or think we do: On Nov. 22, 1963, three shots rang out that changed the world forever. But what if it didn't go that way? This is a historical fiction book, but it's also a time travel story, as well as thriller that's just plain fascinating. Fans of any of those won't be able to put it down.

'The Answer Is: Reflections On My Life' by Alex Trebek

<p>Simon & Schuster </p> 'The Answer Is' by Alex Trebek

Simon & Schuster

'The Answer Is' by Alex Trebek

What is, "the perfect book for Jeopardy! fans, Alex?" When he began hosting the iconic game show in 1984, Alex Trebek couldn't know he'd soon feel like family to millions of Americans. When he announced his pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2019, the outpouring of love and kindness inspired him to write about his life. This charming book is ideal for Jeopardy! fans.

'All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business' by Mel Brooks

<p>Ballantine Books</p> 'All About Me!' by Mel Brooks

Ballantine Books

'All About Me!' by Mel Brooks

If your dad also can't string two sentences together without quoting Spaceballs, Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein, he'll devour this memoir from the boundary-smashing funnyman, Mel Brooks. It follows Brooks’ meteoric rise from a Depression-era kid in Brooklyn to the recipient of the National Medal of Arts. Whether serving in the United States Army in World War II, or during his burgeoning career as a teenage comedian in the Catskills, Mel was always mining his experiences for material, always looking for the perfect joke.

'The Demon of Unrest' by Erik Larson

<p>Crown</p> 'The Demon of Unrest' by Erik Larson


'The Demon of Unrest' by Erik Larson

Abraham Lincoln devotees and Larson fans alike will devour this propulsive account of the five months between Lincoln’s election and the start of the Civil War. It's an all-too-prescient tale of tension and tragedy, clashing egos and miscommunication, power and betrayal. History buffs, this one's for you!

Presidential Agent Series by W.E.B. Griffin

<p>Jove</p> Presidential Agent Series by W.E.B. Griffin


Presidential Agent Series by W.E.B. Griffin

For fathers who love to settle down with a good book and always have a stack going for when they finish their current read, try the Presidential Agent series. It's all about post-9/11 counterterrorism efforts, and several PEOPLE dads haven't been able to put the books down.

'Tales of the South Pacific' by James A. Michener

<p>Dial Press Trade </p> 'Tales of the South Pacific' by James A. Michener

Dial Press Trade

'Tales of the South Pacific' by James A. Michener

This iconic masterpiece and winner of the Pulitzer Prize inspired a Broadway classic. Even if he doesn't have a vacation planned, send dad to the South Pacific where palm trees sway in a balmy breeze and all seems luxuriously tranquil. That is until you consider it takes place during World War II, in the middle of all of the social and political intrigue that comes with it. Broadway buffs and history heads alike will find something to love here.

'3 Shades of Blue: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and the Lost Empire of Cool' by James Kaplan

<p>Penguin Press</p> '3 Shades of Blue' by James Kaplan

Penguin Press

'3 Shades of Blue' by James Kaplan

The title says it all: From the same author who penned the definitive biography of Frank Sinatra comes the moving story of how jazz arrived at the height of American culture in 1959. It follows three towering artists — Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Bill Evans — who joined forces to put out the iconic jazz album, Kind of Blue. If your dad is still (or again) spinning vinyl, pick up the album to go with it for a musical masterpiece of a gift.

'The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder' by David Grann

<p>Doubleday</p> 'The Wager' by David Grann


'The Wager' by David Grann

For dads who loved Killers of the Flower Moon, this is an epic tale from the same author that takes place on the high seas and in the highest courts. It's a story of shipwreck, survival and savagery that reveals what really happened on The Wager, a ship that washed up on the coast of Brazil in 1742.

Related: Watching Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone Left Killers of the Flower Moon Author 'Rattled and Shaking' (Exclusive)

'Hollywood: The Oral History' by Jeanine Basinger and Sam Wasson

<p>Harper</p> 'Hollywood: The Oral History' by Jeanine Basinger and Sam Wasson


'Hollywood: The Oral History' by Jeanine Basinger and Sam Wasson

Eavesdroppers: have we got the book for you. Gathered from the archives of the American Film Institute and almost 3,000 interviews, this oral history is a veritable who's who of Hollywood greats. It includes candid remarks from names like Bette Davis, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Harold Lloyd, Frank Capra, Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, Jordan Peele and tons of others whose monikers dad may not recognize, but whose influence he almost certainly would.

'Be Holding' by Ross Gay

<p>University of Pittsburgh Press</p> 'Be Holding' by Ross Gay

University of Pittsburgh Press

'Be Holding' by Ross Gay

This ode to the great basketball player Julius Erving — better known as Dr. J — who dominated courts in the 1970s and ‘80s for the Philadelphia ‘76ers is a book-length poem, but don't let that scare you off. It's a beautiful, moving account of love, triumph against the odds and how we might better reach out to each other.

'Worm: A Cuban American Odyssey' by Edel Rodriguez

<p>Metropolitan Books</p> 'Worm' by Edel Rodriguez

Metropolitan Books

'Worm' by Edel Rodriguez

You may have seen Rodriguez's work on the cover of Time or any number of places his iconic political art has appeared. When the author was 9 years old, Fidel Castro announced his decision to let 125,000 traitors, who he called "worms" leave the country. Edel's family planned to do just that, but before they could escape, soldiers confiscated their home and property and imprisoned them in a detention center near the port of Mariel. His is an affecting, gripping story, ideal for fans of graphic novels, history and political activism.

'James' by Percival Everett

<p>Doubleday</p> 'James' by Percival Everett


'James' by Percival Everett

From the author behind American Fiction, this ingenious riff on Huckleberry Finn is instead told by Jim, the enslaved man who rafts with Huck down the Mississippi. It's even more fun than the original, with a deeper look at Jim's agency, intelligence and humanity than we got in Mark Twain's classic.

Related: Jeffrey Wright Discusses Erasure, the Novel that Inspired American Fiction: ‘It’s A Great Read’ (Exclusive)

'Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last' by Wright Thompson

<p>Penguin Press</p> 'Pappyland' by Wright Thompson

Penguin Press

'Pappyland' by Wright Thompson

What's a better, longer-lasting gift than a bottle of bourbon? A book about — and maybe alongside — dad's favorite type of whiskey. Whether he's a Bulleit, Jack Daniels or Woodford Reserve man, he'll want to savor the story of how Julian Van Winkle III, the caretaker of the most sought-after Kentucky Bourbon whiskey in the world, fought to protect his family's heritage.

'Why Fathers Cry at Night: A Memoir in Love Poems, Letters, Recipes, and Remembrances' by Kwame Alexander

<p>Little, Brown and Company</p> 'Why Fathers Cry at Night' by Kwame Alexander

Little, Brown and Company

'Why Fathers Cry at Night' by Kwame Alexander

Fair warning: If your intended recipient gets emotional, you might want to accompany this one with a box of tissues. It's a memoir in letters, recipes, poems and other artifacts that make up a story about the author's family. It's beautifully moving, and a great gift for any father at any phase of creating or upholding a family.

'Look for Me There: Grieving My Father, Finding Myself' by Luke Russert

<p>Harper Horizon</p> 'Look For Me There' by Luke Russert

Harper Horizon

'Look For Me There' by Luke Russert

“Look for me there,” said news legend Tim Russert to his son, Luke, whenever they were setting a spot to meet. After his unexpected death, Luke kept on doing just that, following his parents' journalistic footsteps into a deeply successful career of his own.

This is the story of how he left all of that behind and set out on a journey to find himself and what he really wants out of life, in a memoir that's as much about the often-complex relationship between fathers and sons as it is about being human.

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