To commemorate this year’s Father’s Day, here are Morello Life’s top ten books about Fathers. These range from the ultimate classics to contemporary fiction and a few kids favourites throw in for good measure. If you are an avid reader, there is a strong possibility you may have already read most of them and if so, well done you. If you haven’t read them, these are the ones we would heartily suggest to add to your reading list.
We unashamedly dedicate this list to our own fathers, Andrew and Fergus.
1. King Lear by William Shakespeare
This has to be the text about Fatherhood and the relationship and expectations between father and child. As far as we can remember from our A’level texts (ouch – it hurts to think back that far), King Lear is a poster boy for the bad father, dividing and betraying his children. All the father child relationships in the play are seriously flawed leading to disaster and extreme consequences. Much to learn from not dividing kingdoms unfairly. Basically a lesson in how not to do it.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Understandably, Atticus Finch is one of the great heroes of American literature. He is the absolute model of what a father should be. A hard working lawyer with a huge moral conscience, he is working to defend an innocent black man from the unjust charges of the rape of a white woman. Harper Lee’s seductively depicts him as brave, loyal, kind and wise. Throughout the novel he offers numerous noble nuggets including “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”. A book to live by. Cherry Pick
3. Danny (The Champion of the World) by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl’s famous story about a 9-year-old boy, his dad, and a daring pheasant-snatching expedition is at essence a book about love. Although Danny and his Dad don’t have much, they have each other. In Danny’s own words, he is “the most marvelous and exciting father a boy ever had.” Marvellous, as all of Roald Dahl’s book are.
4. Grief Is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter
An essay on grief rather than a novel, this compassionate tale focuses on a father who is looking after his two young boys after the unexpected death of their mother. They are visited by a feathered creature based on Ted Hughes’s ‘Crow’ who leads them through their unbearable grief to a place where they can begin to heal. Incredible debut novel which is full of unexpected humour and profound emotional truth. One which will stay with you.
5. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin
Mr Bennet is a good example of a real Father – flawed but still trying to do the very best he can for his five daughters. He is a little irresponsible and indecisive but all in all offers good advice including advising Elizabeth against marrying someone she doesn’t respect. He is also happy, generous and witty and loves reading which redeems him in our eyes. The classic.
6. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
A beautifully written, passionate, grief-stricken book about dealing with the loss of a father whom she describes at one point as her “partner in crime”. Focusing on the training of her own hard-to-tame goshawk called Mabel, it ties together the themes of nature and memory whilst trying to reconcile death with life and love. A thoughtful read.
7. The Road by Cormic McCarthy
There is no denying that the post-apocalyptic novel is a tragic tale and very depressing. However, the uplifting part of it is the father who literally does everything in his power to keep his son alive amongst a barren wasteland of horror. There is no doubt that this is the kind of Dad you would want by your side should the end ever draw near. You will cry. A lot.
8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
This powerful novel is a heartbreaking story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating history of war torn Afghanistan. It is about favouritism, the price of betrayal, loyalty and finally the search for redemption as well as an exploration of the fathers and son relationship. Heartbreaking. Cherry Pick
9. And When Did You Last See Your Father? by Blake Morrison 1993
I have always found this novel incredibly sad. It is about the loss of the author’s father to cancer after a late diagnosis and swings between Morrison’s memories of time with his father interspersed with his last four weeks of life. This book is said to have inspired a generation of confessional writing. Morrison is painfully honest about the complexities of his relationship with his father whilst maintaining his steadfast love for him. Probably the most honest and therefore the most touching.
10. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
The father in this one, Thomas Schell, dies on 9/11 before this acclaimed novel even starts. When his super bright (and precocious) son Oskar discovers a key which belonged to his father it takes him on a quest across New York. Oskar delves into the lives of his father’s friends and relatives and explores history which all bring him closer to resolution. Living in the memory of Oskar, it becomes clear that father and son had a wonderful relationship, full of fun and love. Uplifting.
Bonus – The Tiger Who Came to Tea
And an added bonus to The Tiger Who Came to Tea as Dad comes home, placidly ignores the mess, plumbing problems and the fact that there is a Tiger in the house and takes his family out for tea instead. Hurrah for that.