Photo: Shutterstock Â© Dubova
6. For Fathers Who Are Counting the Days Until Football Kicks OffÂ
â€śIt Never Rains in Tiger Stadiumâ€ťÂ by John Ed Bradley
What is it about Americansâ€™ love of football? The only argument about the most popular sport in this country is, college or pro? And yet, the number of classic works centered on the gridiron are dwarfed by baseball and boxing. â€śIt Never Rains in Tiger Stadiumâ€ťÂ just might make up for that imbalance in the literary sports world. Bradley, an all-SEC center for the Louisiana Tigers in the late 70s, vividly details the rush of playing big-time, everyone-in-the-state-worships-you, college football. But Bradley was never one to cocoon himself in the Glory Days. He walked away from LSU and hardly looked back. Still, the Tigers have a psychic hold on Bradley that he could never outrun. Inspired by a visit to a dying coach,Â the book is a lyrical heartfelt paean to the glories of youth, the realities of adulthood, and how it all comes together in the huddle.
7. For Fathers Who See Fishing as a Metaphor for Life
â€śBackcast: Fatherhood, Fly-fishing, and a River Journey Through the Heart of Alaskaâ€ťÂ by Lou Ureneck
Is it harder to handle the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness or the rugged terrain of a strained father/son relationship? Veteran journalist Lou Ureneck attempted to do both, at the same time. The recently divorced Ureneck took his graduating teenage son, Adam, on an ill-planned week-long trek down the salmon-flush Kanektok River. Ureneckâ€™s goal was to lessen the impact of his marriageâ€™s dissolution, but Adamâ€™s anger is as ever-present as the bears the â€śsize of church doors.â€ť "Backcast"Â comes alive in its scenes of disaster, be it a sopping-wet sleeping bag, or the authorâ€™s stepfather dropping four monthâ€™s pay in a single afternoon at the track. Ureneck is a tremendous tour guide through the breathtaking riches of the Alaskan backcountry, and the far more perilous depths of the human psyche.
8. For Fathers Who Are Salivating in Anticipation of the 2012 Olympic Cycling Race
â€śRoad to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nationâ€ťÂ by Aili and Andres McConnon
Cycling dads who are grinding their gears waiting for the Box Hill loop should take a pit stop and read the rousing life story of Gino Bartali. The poor Italian cyclist won the Tour de France twice, ten years apart, the only rider to do so. In the years in-between, he goes to dangerous lengths to save the targets of the Nazis, including housing a family of Jews in his apartment. After World War II, the â€śchain-smoking, Chianti-loving 34-year-old underdogâ€ť wins the race and provides a boost in pride and spirit to his ravished home country. The sibling authors put in ten years of research, including interviewing a Holocaust survivor Bartali rescued. "Road to Valor"Â will have even the most bicycle-avoiding of book-loving Pops fired up for the London Olympics.
9.Â For Fathers Whoâ€™ve Fought on Fields of Battle, Both Home and Abroad
â€śHotels, Hospitals, and Jailsâ€ťÂ by Anthony Swofford
As the son of Vietnam veteran, Swofford â€śbelieved that there existed no grander test for a man than combat.â€ť It led him to the Marines, which led readers toÂ â€śJarhead,â€ť his bestselling memoir about the first Gulf War. It became a movie, Swofford became a rich man, unraveled, and embarked on a self-destructive mission to rival his combat experiences. Like son, like father. To try and make sense of his life, Swofford and his dad hit the road for a series of RV trips. The mano-a-mano confrontations between the two veterans (the elder one dying) are raw, tough and scathingly funny. Itâ€™s a tough book about tough guys, about trying to reconcile with the past, about not making the same mistakes in the future, and about how a slobbering baby changes the meaning ofÂ the Marine Corps mottoÂ Semper FidelisÂ forever: â€śAlways Faithful,â€ť Daddy Devil Dog.
10. For Fathers Struggling to do the Best They Can (a.k.a. The Majority)Â
â€śFatherâ€™s Dayâ€ťÂ by Buzz Bissinger
There is no road map to guarantee a parent will get his children where they need to be. This truth is at the heart ofÂ â€śFatherâ€™s Day,â€ťÂ a tough, heartbreaking, and deeply humane work. Itâ€™s the story of a road trip Bissinger took with his son Zach, the â€śborderline mentally retardedâ€ť twin brother to Gerry, an Ivy League graduate. Bissinger is raw, blunt, and unflinching about his sonâ€™s -- and his own -- limitations. The Bissinger father/son cross-country trek doesnâ€™t fall into theÂ open road equals freedomÂ trope American novelists idolize. Their trip isnâ€™t freeing. Itâ€™s a fatherâ€™s attempt at understanding the incomprehensible, which just happens to be his own flesh and blood. At times it seems like all physical roads inÂ â€śFatherâ€™s Dayâ€ťÂ lead nowhere, but they end up back where they started. At the intersection of father and son.