13 Moving Books About Fathers and Fatherhood

By Stephanie Brown
A collection of books laid out on a light blue surface. Titles include "Dreams from My Father" by Barack Obama, "Hollywood Park" by Mikel Jollett, "Autumn" by Karl Ove Knausgaard, "Devil is Fine" by John Vercher, "Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders, "How to Be an Antiracist" by Ibram X. Kendi, and "A Heart That Works" by Rob Delaney.

These insightful stories about fatherhood are must-reads for the whole family.

We’re delighted to bring you a wide-ranging collection of books about fathers and fatherhood. The narratives below span fiction to nonfiction, the heartbreaking to the hilarious and the otherworldly. Together, they capture the highs, lows, and boundless joys of dadhood and the father–child bond.


Book cover of "Devil Is Fine: A Novel" by John Vercher. The cover features the title and author's name in bold black letters. There are two brightly colored jellyfish and a patch of dark soil or dirt superimposed over the bottom right area.

Devil Is Fine

By John Vercher

This genre-bending new novel from critically acclaimed author John Vercher explores the complexities of racial identity, grief, fatherhood, and family history. Soon after the tragic loss of his son, the book’s narrator, a biracial man, learns that he’s inherited a former slave plantation from the white side of his family. Devil Is Fine alternates skillfully between humor, grief, and the supernatural in a way that makes it both deeply moving and impossible to put down. “The novel’s final pages will leave you breathless” (Jonathan Escoffery, author of the Booker Prize finalist If I Survive You).

Book cover of "Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders. The cover features a historical landscape image with the title and author text overlaid. Notable awards highlighted include the Man Booker Prize Winner and a "100 Notable Books" accolade from The New York Times Book Review.

Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders

George Saunders explores fatherly grief through the eyes of Abraham Lincoln in this touching work of supernatural historical fiction that blends heart and humor with boundless imagination. Reeling from the death of his 11-year-old son, Lincoln enters into “the bardo,” a transitional realm between the living and the dead where ghosts carry on the same kinds of emotional and social struggles we go through in life. Not long after Lincoln arrives in this in-between land, a fight breaks out over the future of his son’s soul, compelling the bereaved father to act. A Man Booker Prize–winning work, Lincoln in the Bardo is not to be missed. 

Book cover of "The Changeling" by Victor LaValle. The cover features a dark, enchanted forest with leafless trees illuminated by yellow fireflies. At the bottom, there is a glowing yellow cradle. The title and author's name are prominently displayed in bright yellow text.

The Changeling

By Victor LaValle

Victor LaValle’s award-winning dark fantasy book about fatherhood was recently adapted into an Apple TV+ series starring Lakeith Stanfield. The show is excellent, but be sure to read its stellar source material first! Hailed as “riveting” by the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Changeling follows Apollo Kagwa, a new father whose own dad mysteriously disappeared when he was young. Soon after Apollo’s son is born, his wife, Emma, begins acting strangely. At first, he interprets Emma’s behavior as postpartum depression — until she lashes out and then disappears without a trace. Stunned, the new father embarks on a mystical odyssey across an otherworldly New York City to find his vanished family.

The cover of the book "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. The text says "Pulitzer Prize Winner" at the top, followed by the author's name in brown text, and the title "The Road" in large white text. A quote from the San Francisco Chronicle is at the bottom.

The Road

By Cormac McCarthy

This renowned post-apocalyptic novel about fatherhood is a Pulitzer Prize winner and a modern American classic, so pick it up at once if you haven’t already read it! The Road follows a father and son in search of solace at the end of the world. Their journey across a wasted landscape illustrates the deep familial bond that holds them together; each is the other’s entire world in the wake of Earth’s devastation. Cormac McCarthy delivers a staggering meditation on human nature, connection, and the father–son bond, ultimately championing the persistence of hope in the direst of circumstances.

The cover of the book "Tinkers" by Paul Harding features a snowy landscape with a lone figure at the bottom center. There is a gold badge indicating it won the Pulitzer Prize. A quote from Marilynne Robinson at the top praises the book.


By Paul Harding

Paul Harding’s Tinkers is not only a Pulitzer Prize–winning book about a father and son who “tinker” in different ways but a moving exploration of identity, grief, and our connection to the natural world. As an elderly fixer of clocks lies dying, he slips into a reverie about his childhood in Maine, allowing him to finally reckon with the loss of his father from 70 years ago.

Book cover of "The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley" by Hannah Tinti. The cover features silhouettes of a man and a girl holding hands, set against a blue sky and snow-covered landscape. The text highlights the book as a national bestseller with praise from Newsweek.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

By Hannah Tinti

We wrap up our list of fiction books about fathers with an adventure-filled literary thriller. Samuel Hawley is a single dad who’s spent a lifetime on the run while taking care of his daughter, Loo. Now that they’ve finally arrived at his late wife’s coastal hometown, Samuel hopes to keep a low profile. Loo, meanwhile, is curious about her mother and her father’s mysterious past. But the deeper she digs, the darker her family’s history appears — and that darkness might be catching up with them. Hannah Tinti’s The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley blends action-packed thrills with coming-of-age family drama as it explores the complex bond between a father and daughter.


The cover of "Hollywood Park: A Memoir" by Mikel Jollett features a faded photograph of two children smiling and hugging at the beach. Blurbs from The Wall Street Journal and O, The Oprah Magazine, praise the book. The author's name is prominent at the bottom.

Hollywood Park

By Mikel Jollett

It’s safe to say that Mikel Jollett’s childhood was far from typical. Born into a cult, he was separated from his parents as a baby, and his earliest memories were within the confines of the commune’s school. As a small child, Jollett escaped to freedom with his mom and older brother, only to endure a life of poverty, addiction, and emotional abuse — at the hands of his mother.

Fortunately, Jollett’s father was able to escape the cult as well and came back into his life, fully sober and rehabilitated, at a time when Jollett had no one else. Hollywood Park is an unforgettable memoir of a tumultuous life, fierce loyalty, and the father–son bond that saved the author’s life.

Book cover of "Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares" by Aarti Namdev Shahani. The cover features vertical red stripes reminiscent of the American flag with a vintage grayscale photo of a smiling man and woman in the background.

Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares

By Aarti Shahani

From NPR journalist Aarti Shahani comes a striking memoir about the immigrant experience and her father’s harrowing experience with the American Dream. The Shahani family arrives in Queens, New York, by way of India. After a few rocky years of adjustment, they begin to relax into their new life in the States. But their security is upended after Aarti’s father unwittingly sells goods to a notorious drug cartel and is pulled into a legal battle that puts the entire family in jeopardy. Here We Are is a heartfelt account of a father and daughter, and a probing examination of America’s immigration and court systems.

The cover of the book "Autumn" by Karl Ove Knausgaard features an abstract painting with swirling blue and green patterns resembling a stormy sky over a body of water. The title and author's name are prominently displayed in bold white text.

Autumn (Book 1 of the Seasons Quartet)

By Karl Ove Knausgaard

Autumn is the first in a four-book series written by Karl Ove Knausgaard to his new daughter. Known as the Seasons Quartet, the works seek to provide a kind of guide to the world in all its wonder. While many of the books on our list are sweeping in scale, Knausgaard’s nonfiction narrative offers a gorgeous meditation on tiny marvels and everyday joy. In exploring his new role as a father, Knausgaard draws our attention to the beauty in life that we so often overlook.

The cover of "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The text mentions it is a #1 New York Times bestseller and a National Book Award Winner. A quote from Toni Morrison at the bottom reads, "This is required reading.

Between the World and Me

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

A National Book Award winner and a New York Times bestseller, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s acclaimed narrative is a profound book about fatherhood that everyone should read. Between the World and Me is written as a letter from Coates to his adolescent son. In it, the author reckons with the stark realities of being Black in America, offering his unflinching perspective on American history as well as racial inequality and discrimination, and his hopes for a more equitable future for his child. Both intimate and immense, Coates’s writing is for anyone who seeks to understand the stakes of American racism to build a better world for all children.

Cover of the book "A Heart That Works" by Rob Delaney. The title and author’s name are displayed prominently. Below the title is a photograph of a man and young child embracing outside in a snowy setting. A quote by Anne Lamott is also visible.

A Heart That Works

By Rob Delaney

When comedian Rob Delaney lost his 2-year-old son Henry to brain cancer, he worked through it the only way he knew how — by crafting a tender portrait of fatherhood and loss that The New York Times calls “captivating,” “poignant,” and “miraculously funny.” The power of A Heart That Works is in its clarity: Delaney deftly blends comedy with tragedy as he grapples with the unimaginable loss of his son, reflecting on the meaning of family and encouraging us all to live life with love as our guide.

The cover of the book "Dreams from My Father" by Barack Obama features three black-and-white photos: a woman with a child, Barack Obama, and a man in uniform. The subtitle reads "A Story of Race and Inheritance." The background shows an abstract tree and landscape.

Dreams from My Father

By Barack Obama

In his bestselling memoir, Barack Obama confronts the legacy of his father and his own identity as a biracial man in America. Dreams of My Father is a searing assessment of race, belonging, fatherhood, and forgiveness. Across its pages, Obama traces his lineage from Kansas to Hawaii and then finally to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, all in an attempt to better understand his background and the life of his father, a man he barely knew. 

The book cover is orange with three speech bubbles: a white bubble with "Michael Chabon" in bold black letters, a black bubble with "POPS" in large white letters, and a smaller white bubble with "Fatherhood in Pieces" in cursive black text.

Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces

By Michael Chabon

We conclude our list of books about fatherhood with a delightful and insightful essay collection by Michael Chabon. Inspired by a viral GQ magazine piece the author wrote about the lessons he’s learned from his son, Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces features thoughtful and often very funny takes on navigating parenting. Suffused with warmth and wit, it feels like a conversation with dear old dad about hopes, dreams, and the everyday absurdities of life. 


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