Father's Day Books: Great Fatherhood Stories for Every Dad
We've all got favorite fatherhood stories, whether you're a dad, have a dad or, like Barack Obama, barely knew him. To help with your shopping for Father's Day, we round up some of the most notable memoirs of fatherhood, from veteran comedian Bill Cosby to newcomer Alysia Abbott and more.
For the Sports Buff
Much ink has been spilled concerning athletes who aren't good role models for their fans--with the latest titan, Lance Armstrong, brought low by scandal. So it's a relief when a top sports star, the Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade, not only acts the part of the upstanding icon, but also writes the book on the subject. "A Father First" is Wade's story of balancing stardom and fatherhood, without sacrificing either.
For the Movie Buff
Another upstanding superstar, Cary Grant was the epitome of grace, style and raffish charm on the silver screen in films such as "Bringing up Baby," "His Girl Friday" and "North by Northwest." He retired after a 34-year movie career, at the age of 62, for a fatherly reason: His daughter, Jennifer, was born. In "Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant," Jennifer Grant remembers a devoted dad who was always there for her, despite his international fame.
For the Old-School Dad
Playing Bobby Baccalieri on "The Sopranos," Steve Schirripa was not the toughest (or the wisest) of the wise guys, but in real life, Schirripa has what he considers an even tougher gig: raising teenage daughters. For Schirripa, the most important rule of being a dad is simple: "Be there." In his book, "Big Daddy's Rules," Schirripa lays out the laws of parenting, and he trends toward old-school, traditional values: He elaborated for Bookish about how dads "can lay down the law in a way that moms can’t."
For the Unconventional Dad
Not all dads rely on traditional family structure--or parenting methods. When she was two years old, Alysia Abbott's mother died in a car accident, and her father took her into the vibrant, countercultural scene of 1970s San Francisco. An openly gay poet, Steve Abbott not only raised his daughter himself, but he introduced her to a world of creativity she couldn't have dreamed up on her own. Alysia Abbott's book, "Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father," is her homage to her dad's devotion, imagination and fearlessness.
For the Jokester
No list of fatherhood stories would be complete without the uproarious classic of the genre by Bill Cosby, the patriarch of the fictional Cosby clan and of five real children of his own. Cosby manages to fill his book with sage fatherly wisdom, despite the less-than ideal parenting he received from his own father: "It was because of my father that from the ages of seven to 15, I thought that my name was Jesus Christ and my brother, Russell, thought that his name was Dammit. 'Dammit, will you stop all that noise?' And, 'Jesus Christ, sit down!' One day, I'm out playing in the rain, and my father yelled, 'Dammit will you get back in here!' I said, 'Dad, I'm Jesus Christ.'"
For the Blue State Dad
Not all dads are able to be there for their children. Written long before he became president, Barack Obama's memoir, "Dreams from My Father," is in part about the filial inheritance from a father who's absent. Kenyan by birth, Barack Obama Sr. left his two-year-old son and his wife, Stanley Ann Dunham, in Hawaii in 1963, and to Obama he "remained a myth... both more and less than a man." The experience shaped Obama's ambition, which took him to Harvard Law School, after which he wrote the book, through the U.S. Senate and to the presidency.
For the Red State Dad
A handful of U.S. presidents have been as iconic as Ronald Reagan, but none of them have also been movie stars. In February 2011, on what would have been Reagan's 100th birthday, his son, Ron Jr., published "My Father at 100," a personal history of his famous father. The book is a warm reminiscence that nevertheless caused controversy for its suggestion that Reagan may have suffered from undiagnosed Alzheimer's during his second term. This filial memoir paints a portrait that doesn't shy away from the challenges of growing up as the youngest son of the leader of the free world.
For the Dad Who Knows the Spectrum
John Elder Robison isn't afraid to correct our misperceptions about Asperger's Syndrome, with which he was diagnosed at 40. In his newest memoir, "Raising Cubby," Robison details his adventures in parenting his son, Jack, who is also on the spectrum. The subtitle's "Trains, Tractors and High Explosives" should give you a hint of what this experience has been like for father and son.