The Book Nerd’s Guide to Book Clubbing With Your Dad

Welcome to the Book Nerd’s Guide to Life! Every other week, we convene in this safe place to discuss the unique challenges of life for people whose noses are always wedged in books. For past guides, click here.

The last time we were together on this hallowed ground, we weighed the pros and cons of starting an intimate book club with your mother. By the end of that discussion, I think it was pretty clear the endeavor was worth a shot, especially since you don’t call her enough and she worries.

Father’s Day will be here before you know it (June 19 for the slackers), and it seems only fair to give good ol’ dad equal consideration. Sure, a one-on-one book club may not be the most intuitive of gift options, but if you do a tie or an Outback gift card one more time, he might just snap.

Consider the myriad reasons you should let the paterfamilias in on the book club action. (Unless your dad is way into his “man book club,” in which case, stage an intervention with some Octavia E. Butler immediately.)

You might encounter a Theodore Roosevelt biography or two you wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s easy to become pigeonholed in a go-to genre. Reading with pops could be a good way to switch up your to-read stack. And maybe, on the flip side, you could push him out of his comfort zone as well. I’m not suggesting you and your dad pick up Outlander, because that’s uncomfortable, but maybe you settle on some literary middle ground that enlivens both of your reading lists and has fewer (preferably zero) sex scenes.

You’ll find a way to bond that doesn’t directly involve sporting events (or your dad’s go-to dad interest of choice). Remember how much you sucked at soccer, and how hard your father tried to hide his disappointment? How about tee ball? Or gymnastics? There’s a better way to bond, and it involves sitting still in one place for long periods of time. You may not be into John Wooden’s biography—or you may, it’s a good one—but something like Wild could bridge the gap without you having to leave the house. Discussing the plot intricacies of The Art of Fielding can offer a lot more room for intellectual connection than whistling while your dad reels off RBI stats for the starting lineup of his favorite team. That may sound radical, but it’s true.

There are sure to be more puns than at any of your other book clubs. You know how every book club you’ve ever been in just falls apart because 1) no one reads the book, and 2) the ones who do just wind up talking about everything but the book because they’re sharers? Holding a book club with your father is nothing like that. First, he’s going to show up, definitely. Second, he’s probably going to read the book, because he loves you. Finally, even if he didn’t read the book, he’ll have read the back, the inside cover, and enough of the first chapter to formulate at least 15 minutes of dad jokes and terrible puns related to the book. Overall, that makes for a more positive experience, and it means you won’t hate-drink the mandatory book-club wine.

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