Book Box: The Father Factor

Dear Reader,

The first rain came on Thursday night. After the hot summer, Mumbai has ushered in the monsoon!

Monsoon in Mumbai.

Rain is an ideal time to curl up in a cozy corner with a book. If you’re a weather lover, a good book is Atmospheric Chasing the Monsoons by Alexander Frater.

Chasing the monsoon.
Chasing the monsoon.

This Father’s Day weekend is also the perfect time to reflect on being a father. It can be fun and fulfilling. But it can be scary, the scars you may have from anger, disapproval, or neglect in the midst of the huge impact you have had.

So how do you get it right – the most important skill?

Speaking of the wisdom of the world’s greatest thinkers, I bring you seven books that delve into what it takes to be a father.

Book 1 of 7: Life Advice

Things my son needs to know about the world.
Things my son needs to know about the world.

Beckman is best known for his tough-guy roles in novels such as A Man Named Ove and Anxious Man. In these articles, he switched tactics, subtly ranted about poo and other dad stuff, and wrote about how to beat Monkey Island 3 and why his son should play football. What my son needs to know about the world is laugh out loud, great read,

For more poignant dad articles, read the final lesson. The author of the booklet is Randy Pausch, 47, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The essays are the text of a speech he gave to his three children and his students and summarize what he has learned throughout his life. They include touching truths such as, “The key question to keep asking is, are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is what you have.

Book 2 of 7: Survival Lessons

road.
road.

In this extremely beautiful story, a father and his son walk alone through a burnt landscape. Nothing moved on the land; the sky was dark, and the wind brought ashes. “Men” and “Boys” must pass the looting gangs on their way to the coast. They have their own clothes, pistols, blankets, a truckload of cleaned food—and each other. Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” is bleak, but it also offers hope as a father teaches his son how to survive.

Book 3 of 7: Dealing with Differences

Rossi results.
Rossi results.

Rosie Result addresses many of the problems parents face today – like enabling an 11-year-old boy to deal with discrimination, the hierarchy of sports over nerds, racism and sexism. The third in Rosie’s trilogy, this book is as humorous and relevant as the other two. We follow the very lovely Don Tillman, brilliant geneticist and problem solver now developing and solving the problem of becoming a parent!

Book 4 of 7: Writing Letters

Letter from father to daughter.
A letter from a father to his daughter.

There’s something magical about parenting letters to children, and I’m inspired by letters from fathers to daughters to try at least once a year. It’s harder for me because I’m not as knowledgeable as Pandit Nehru, and maybe because I’m not in jail! But seriously, these letters, which Nehru wrote to his 10-year-old daughter, Indira, when he was in prison for fighting the British, are stirring up the way they teach human history.

Book 5 of 7: Teaching Ethics

To kill a robin.
To kill a robin.

Atticus Finch has long been an advocate for lawyers and single fathers. When you read To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s easy to understand why. Finch was a father who was open to his children’s problems, who demonstrated the principles of justice by example, and who gave children the freedom to experiment.

Book 6 of 7: Financial Advice

Rich Dad Poor Dad.
Rich Dad Poor Dad.

A Tale of Two Fathers – A biological father and a mentor father figure, Rich Dad, Poor Dad is a useful book about the advice fathers can give. Many of our attitudes toward money are learned from our fathers, so building the right framework of financial literacy is an important gift a father can give his child.

Book 7 of 7: Fallible Fathers

Go out and steal horses.
Go out and steal horses.

In this evocative book, a 69-year-old man reminisces about the summers he spent with his father, in a cabin, in the Norwegian woods, during tree-cutting season. Something happened that summer that gave him his first glimpse of his father as a flawed adult. Read Stealing Horses for its haunting prose, delicacy of landscapes, and the damage a father can do to a child.

Examples that illustrate this existential damage are horrific fathers such as the educated bipolar father, the alcoholic father in Angela’s Ashes and Brooklyn’s tree growing, the killer father in The Shining, and the city of Castlebridge. The father who sold the child in the long middle school.

But to end on a positive note, let’s remember one of the most outrageous dads of all time – Gone with the Wind’s Rhett Butler, who went from rake to baby pusher after the birth of his daughter Bonnie Car dads – so hopefully dads-to-be who aren’t ready!

That’s all for today’s reading. Next week we’ll pick some of the best audiobooks and how talented storytellers can bring them to you when you’re on a plane, stuck in traffic, or just too tired to read print.

Until then, happy reading!

Sonya Dutta Choudhury is a Mumbai-based journalist and founder of custom book service Sonya’s Book Box. Each week, she brings you specially curated books that give you an immersive understanding of people and places. If you have any reading requests or suggestions, please write to her sonyasbookbox@gmail.com

Opinions expressed are personal

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