Father Knows Books: Inspiring Reads for Dad on His Big Day
…his voice speaking through your mouth…your gestures mirror his…his whisper in your blood. –Salman Rushdie
I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom. –Umberto Eco
Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father. –Barack Obama
There are fathers of all kind. Lenient and strict. Soft-hearted and stern. Funny and serious. Active and laid-back. Even absent and present.
As Rushdie observed, we become our fathers, whether we plan it or actively conspire against it. They are part of us, that is.
And as Obama noticed, to do it–to really do it–takes courage, to say nothing of doing it well. Father’s Day is a time to appreciate the act and challenge of fatherhood, and to show our appreciation to the fathers and father figures we love.
The books in this collection, well, some are explicitly about fatherhood. Others have nothing specifically to do with the fathering journey, but offer insights that may help a new or experienced dad along the way. These are books for the wide variety of dads who reach for insight in literature to inform them as they perform the duties of their toughest job.
Adventures of a Lightkeeper
Remember those beer commercials featuring “the most interesting man in the world”? They should pay royalties to Barry Porter, who spent more than two decades as a lighthouse keeper with the Canadian Coast Guard on the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, guiding shipping to and from the busy ports of Botwood and Lewisporte and at the historic Long Point Lighthouse on Twillingate Island. He was the last lightkeeper to live in this majestic 146-year-old dwelling while working there. He had close encounters with Arctic foxes, hungry polar bears, snowy owls, humpback whales and towering icebergs. His journals describe the isolation, the history of the lighthouses, the hardy pioneers who first kept the light, marine rescues, near misses and vicious storms.
The Nova Scotia Book of Fathers
Edited by Lesley Choyce and Julia Swan
Here are fathers of all kinds: quiet, thoughtful, wise men; stubborn and headstrong men; and men whose careers and circumstances called forth public bravery and heroism. Included too are fathers whose mark on the world is more private but just as compelling, just as fearless, just as noteworthy. They embody the strength everyone needs to weather the storms of life, the humour that helps us to laugh at crucial moments, and the stalwart vision it takes to raise daughters and sons and send them out into the world.
We Are Nova Scotia: 100 Portraits
The artistic father will appreciate Launcelott’s gifted eye, her profound ability to relax her subjects, allowing them to show their true selves. Her collection features photographic portraits taken since the start of the pandemic. It is a profound and truthful celebration of real Nova Scotia in its diversity and glory. This book features 100 portraits of people from around the province – and gives an honest portrayal of who we really are.
Oak Island Illustrated:
The 225-Year Search for Truth and Treasure
If Papa loves a good mystery, there’s none deeper than the treasures said to be buried in Oak Island, Nova Scotia. Amateur historians and treasure hunters have offered a host of theories about what the treasure was, who buried it, and who tried to ensure it was never found. This fascinating book explores all these theories, which include the Vikings, the Spanish, pirates, the French and the British. Was it Sir Francis Drake? The crown jewels of France? Captain Kidd? Historian John Bell explores each idea, with extensive illustrations of the gold, silver, jewels and other treasures which might have been hidden, and sketches the lives of the renegades, pirates and agents of the British crown who could be responsible — with many accompanying visuals.
Take the Long Way Home
Less than two years sober, artist Jon Claytor sets out on a cross-country road trip. His destination? An artist’s residency in Prince Rupert, BC. But Take the Long Way Home isn’t about Claytor’s destination. Like fatherhood, it’s about the stops he makes—and the relationships he strengthens—along the way.
The Chemistry of Innovation: Regis Duffy and the Story of DCL
Mo Duffy Cobb and Lori Mayne
Island Studies Press
The Chemistry of Innovation is packed full of dad wisdom about entrepreneurship, taking risks and championing people in business. It also is a family story where kids affix labels on diagnostic kits and everyone pitches in to make the company a success. On Prince Edward Island, 1970, Regis Duffy started a small chemical reagent company to create summer jobs for his students. Diagnostic Chemicals and its offspring, BioVectra, soon grew into global competitors in the diagnostic and pharmaceutical industry. The key to his success? As Regis once said, “Innovate or die; the alternative is not that appealing.”
305 Lost Buildings of Canada
Raymond Biesinger and Alex Bozikovic
Goose Lane Editions
If architecture captures Dad’s imagination, or if it’s nostalgia for hip city scenes and the action that once happened there, this gorgeous and unusual book will be delightful discovery. Biesinger and Bozikovic resurrect lost buildings here, from across the country, not merely a remembrance but also a tribute to times gone by in historic landmarks, an outline of why they were so important, and what they–and their loss–say about us as a nation.
The Reincarnation of Winston Churchill
If Baba enjoys a good book of historical fiction, consider this retelling of the later life of Winston Churchill, Britain’s legendary leader in the war against Nazism. Here Churchill holds a secret. Could it be that Churchill was descended, through his American mother, from Indigenous people of North America? Churchill’s certainty that he possesses actual ancestral memories from this inheritance gave him the fortitude to stand, almost alone, against Hitler. As he nears his end, Churchill learns that William Cull, a student from Newfoundland has arrived in London—a descendant and namesake of a notorious frontiersman and alleged persecutor of the Beothuk in the early 1800s. Churchill summons Cull to his home in London, disrupting the young man’s life, to hear and record the great man’s mystery, in an uncertain race against time.
The Yankee Privateer
This is a high seas adventure set on the Grand Banks during the American Revolution. Yetman’s experience as a sailing skipper and officer of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment lends authenticity to this work. Full of adventure, betrayal, resilience, romance and intrigue, this historical fiction is a great Father’s Day read.
Dead and Not Dead
Boularderie Island Press
Dead and Not Dead is a riveting novel about making seemingly impossible decisions. Our hero is Calvin, whose life is at a crossroads thanks to a new love he has found with a bright, tell-it-like-it-is Mi’kmaw woman. To Calvin’s annoyance, Susie’s friends freely parade in and out of her trailer on Dream Road. But there’s something seductive about the life and community she knows, and he must decide between that life and his home back in Ontario.
An Extraordinary Ordinary Man
Doug House & Adrian House
Memorial University Press
Father and son team Doug House and Adrian House recount the life story of Doug’s father, Edgar House, using his own words. A truly extraordinary ordinary man, Edgar’s humour and wonderful memory shines through as he reminisces about Newfoundland in the 20th century and his own purposeful, engaged life.
Have Guitar, Will Travel:
My Rock & Roll Road to Cape Breton
Cape Breton Books
If the Old Man is of a musical bent, he’ll love this intimate, hilarious and inspiring story from Canada’s rock & roll scene. Culp built a monster business devoted to gigs and tribute bands that preserved the music he loved, then watched it crumble in days in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a story of achievement as Culp helped others, and himself, Rise Again!