Fathers’ Day Gifts Recommended by Our Work-Dad

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Some people have a work-spouse. We have a work-dad.

Andy Brennan is more than our esteemed store manager. He’s the keeper of order; the wearer of the khaki pants; and the patient trainer of new staffers. He doles out tough love when we mess up (COFFEE CUPS ARE NOT DECORATIONS, PEOPLE. WASH YOUR DISHES), and he gives us go-get-’em talks when we need encouragement. We’d be lost without him.

If you need ideas on what to give your dad, check out this list made by our work-dad. (It’s mostly sports, cars, grilling, and spy-stuff, but if you come see Andy — or any of us — we’ll help you find the perfect book for whatever your dad is into.)

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Who wants burgers?
 Andy’s Ultimate List of Father’s Day Gift Books

Once a Runner Cover ImageOnce a Runner

By John L. Parker

Originally self-published, Once a Runner was picked up by Scribner and became a cult classic among distance runners. It continues to be a favorite of running enthusiasts today. Warning: If your dad’s not a runner, this may not the book for him. But if he is a long distance runner, this is essential reading.

The Rider Cover ImageThe Rider

By Tim Krabbe, Sam Garrett (Translator)

The New Yorker said of The Rider, “along the way, [Krabbe] lays bare the athlete’s peculiar mixture of arrogance and terror, viciousness and camaraderie, and the result is one of the more convincing love stories of recent memory.”

Return to Glory: The Story of Ford's Revival and Victory in the Toughest Race in the World Cover ImageReturn to Glory: The Story of Ford’s Revival and Victory in the Toughest Race in the World

By Matthew DeBord

Return to Glory tells the recent history of the Ford Motor Company, focusing on the new Ford GT and its triumphant comeback at Le Mans in 2016. DeBord is a senior correspondent for Business Insider, where he covers transportation.

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life Cover ImageBarbarian Days: A Surfing Life

By William Finnegan

The publisher calls Barbarian Days “an old-school adventure story, and intellectual autobiography, a social history, a literary road movie, and an extraordinary exploration of the gradual mastering of an exacting, little-understood art.” Put even more simply: it’s about one man’s lifelong obsession with surfing, and it’s so good it won the Pulitzer Prize.

(Bonus: Watch Finnegan talk about the book on A Word on Words.)

Fever Pitch Cover ImageFever Pitch

By Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby brilliantly illustrates how a fan becomes obsessed with a team (in his case the English soccer club Arsenal). But there’s more to it than that. The New York Times summed it up like so: “the book is as much about obsession and a sensitive young man’s search for direction and community as it is about goals and penalty kicks.”

Levels of the Game Cover ImageLevels of the Game

By John McPhee

This account of a tennis match played by Arthur Ashe against Clark Graebner at Forest Hills in 1968 begins with the ball rising into the air for the initial serve and ends with the final point. McPhee provides a brilliant, stroke-by-stroke account of the match in between examining the backgrounds and attitudes that shaped the players and the way they play the game.

The Sport of Kings Cover ImageAn Audiobook Account on Libro.fm

(With The Sport of Kings by C. E. Morgan)

If Dad prefers to listen to books, give him the gift of getting him all set up on Libro.fm — the audiobook membership that supports indie bookstores! The Sport of Kings would make a great first download. (Everyone thinks this book is about horse racing, but it’s really about everything: love, race, legacy, family, justice, poverty, and American inequality.)

Any of the reissued George Plimpton classics:

FC9780316284547.JPGPlimpton was the first editor-in- chief of the Paris Review and a pioneer of so-called “participatory journalism,” in which he actually attempted to play the sport he was writing about. Bob Costas said, “George had the reporter’s eye and then the literary skill to render what he observed like few others.” Find a couple that match your dad’s sporting interests.

Football: Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback or Mad Ducks and Bears: Football Revisited
Golf: The Bogey Man: A Month on the PGA Tour
Boxing: Shadow Box: An Amateur in the Ring
Baseball: Out of My League: The Classic Account of an Amateur’s Ordeal in Professional Baseball or One for the Record: The Inside Story of Hank Aaron’s Chase for the Home Run Record 
Hockey: Open Net: A Professional Amateur in the World of Big-Time Hockey

For the foodie and grillmaster, these great guides:

The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South Cover ImageThe Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South

The South's Best Butts: Pitmaster Secrets for Southern Barbecue Perfection Cover ImageThe South’s Best Butts: Pitmaster Secrets for Southern Barbecue Perfection

Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades--Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too Cover ImageBarbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades–Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too

 Does your dad love a good mystery? He might dig one of these:

No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Short Stories Cover ImageNo Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Short Stories

This new collection of short stories fills in some of the blanks in the Jack Reacher story. (Note: Like many of our books, this one is available in a large-print version for the dad who doesn’t like to admit it’s time for a pair of readers.)

An Honorable Man Cover ImageAn Honorable Man

One of my favorite recent works of Cold War spy fiction, now available in paperback! In this thrilling novel, there’s a traitor in the CIA, and George Mueller is brought in to investigate. Twists and turns ensue.


Let’s say it’s 8 a.m. on Father’s Day, you’re on your way to a pancake breakfast with Dad, and you’ve just realized you forgot a gift. DON’T PANIC. You got this:

Give your literature-loving father, father-in-law, father-figure, or yourself — you deserve it, dude — a pre-paid gift subscription to the Parnassus Books First Editions Club (you can sign up online at any hour of any day, even on a Sunday morning), and we’ll give him the gift of an autographed, first-edition hardcover book deemed the best new release each month by our team of expert book-lovers. Available in 3, 6, or 12-month subscriptions! Get more details or sign up here.

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More dad books than you can shake a stick at

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Cards, mugs, and other bookish gifts to round out the package!