Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father's Day Finds

Whether choosing a book for a Dad in his twenties or a Grandpa in his eighties, there are many exhilarating choices among the newest books that will help your special Dad celebrate.

Imperfect, An Improbable Life by Jim Abbott and Tim Brown is my pick for every parent and baseball lover on your list.  Born without a right hand, Jim Abbott was an implausible candidate to pitch a big league no-hitter, yet he did.  The way his parents used his supposed handicap as an opportunity is an inspiration for everyone.  Abbott’s honesty and humor enlighten his journey and Brown’s skillful inning-by-inning rendition of Abbott’s no-hitter in Yankee Stadium will entertain readers.

Calico Joe by John Grisham is a kind novel about fatherhood and forgiveness as seen through the eyes of the son of a blackguard pitcher in 1973 and today. It’s a book fathers should share with their teenage sons and it isn’t just for baseball fans but will appeal to readers looking for a heartwarming story.

Defending Jacob by William Landay is a fast-paced courtroom drama and story of the son of a district attorney who’s accused of killing his classmate.  As the father tries to save his son, he has to ask if a tendency to violence is an inheritable trait and then to explore his own past.  The courtroom scenes are crisp and realistic as the author is a former district attorney.  The book will keep readers on edge until the very clever ending.

The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont is a novel that explores taking the right course in life as experienced in a boarding school that takes in those who’ve been tossed from the good schools yet have family money and influence. It uses sailing as a metaphor for searching for a guiding star and also explores father-son relationships.  It’s a book that succeeds on many levels.

The 500: a Novel by Matthew Quirk is a debut thriller set in the powerful world of Washington lobbyists with unchallenged power.  Mike Ford, a recent Harvard Law School grad with a past, is riding high until he discovers secrets that turn his world into something resembling The Firm. 

Also don’t miss two of my favorite books of 2011 that everyone would love and that would make perfect gifts for Father’s Day:

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach is for every reader. Henry arrives at a small college on the shores of Lake Michigan to play baseball; perhaps to save the team with his fielding. He becomes the best until he makes on unforced error and everything changes. You’ll remember his captivating teammates long after flying through this big, heartfelt book.  Don’t think that you have to know about or love baseball to enjoy this novel.  Trying to live without ever making an error is certainly a metaphor for life not just for baseball.  The characters in this connect with more than just baseball fans.

Safe from the Sea, by Peter Geye - Noah returns to the remote lake region north of Duluth when Olaf, his ill father, summons him. The novel also tells of Olaf’s survival of one of the most deadly Lake Superior shipwrecks. Lyrical prose highlights this tale of forgiveness, love and honoring the past.

Take a step back to a favorite from the 1990s:

The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger is both the funniest and most poignant baseball novel I’ve ever read.  Told in letters by a boy to his New York Giants hero in the 1940s it will make even the most reluctant reader sit for hours guffawing.  Fathers and sons must share this.