In the spirit of Father’s Day, I thought it might only be fitting to highlight a few of the dads that I’ve met along the way that have written books. Not just ‘books’, but brutally honest works of non-fiction and comedic memoirs about fatherhood, written by actual fathers. Dudes that have ALL been in the trenches of parenting combat.
These guys are mostly friends and acquaintances, new and old and there are maybe even one or two that I haven’t met in person yet. They are bloggers, authors, speakers, actors, comedians, intellectuals, etc., but beyond everything – they’re all dads.
Whether you’re a mom OR a dad, these are ten books that you absolutely need to read…and I’d bet that they might make the perfect gift for that grand-pop, dad or dad-to-be in your life this holiday.
I’ve linked each title to Amazon, where they’re all sold. You’ve definitely got time to surprise your loved one with a plethora of funny parenting stories before the weekend!
In no particular order, I’ll let ‘er rip…
DAD’S BOOK OF AWESOME SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS – by MIKE ADAMICK
Mike and I got to hang out over the last few Dad Summit 2.0 conferences and I’ve never met a more genuine dude. He’s a stay-at-home dad and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area, you can check him out here.
The science behind, “But, why?”
Don’t get caught off guard by your kids’ science questions! You and your family can learn all about the ins and outs of chemistry, biology, physics, the human body, and our planet with Dad’s Book of Awesome Science Experiments. From Rock Candy Crystals to Magnetic Fields, each of these fun science projects features easy-to-understand instructions that can be carried out by even the youngest of lab partners, as well as awesome, full-color photographs that guide you through each step. Complete with 30 interactive experiments and explanations for how and why they work, this book will inspire your family to explore the science behind:
- Chemistry, with Soap Clouds
- Biology, with Hole-y Walls
- Physics, with Straw Balloon Rocket Blasters
- Planet Earth, with Acid Rain
- The Human Body, with Marshmallow Pulse Keepers
Best of all, every single one of these projects can be tossed together with items around the house or with inexpensive supplies from the grocery store. Whether your kid wants to create his or her own Mount Vesuvius or discover why leaves change colors in the fall, Dad’s Book of Awesome Science Experiments will bring out the mad scientists in your family–in no time!
THE PARENTS’ PHRASE BOOK – by WHIT HONEA
Whit is another guy I finally got to meet last year in Houston. He’s an incredible writer, great dad and he and I have recently been brought on as contributing writers for TODAY Parents. I also accidentally spilled tea all over a stack of his new books during one of his signings. He lives in Los Angeles and can be found here.
What do you say when your child gets caught in a fib? Or asks you about the birds and the bees? With The Parents’ Phrase Book, you no longer have to worry about coming up with the right response on the spot. Written by Whit Honea, a parenting expert whose advice has appeared on BabyCenter, Babble, and the Huffington Post, among others, this valuable guide provides you with the key language and tactics you will need to deal with a variety of parenting situations. Inside, Honea explains why his approach quickly resolves issues and why so many of the parenting phrases you hear on the playground may actually encourage children to misbehave. From tackling sibling rivalry to handling bullies at school, The Parents’ Phrase Book will help you connect with your child and address even the toughest parenting dilemmas.
MOMMY MAN: HOW I WENT FROM MILD-MANNERED GEEK TO GAY SUPERDAD – by JERRY MAHONEY
I’ll admit, I’ve never physically met Jerry. His partner, Drew, and I have worked in similar spaces in entertainment and through him, I’ve got this whole ‘six degrees of Kevin Bacon’ thing goin’ on with Jerry. Check him out here!
As a teenager growing up in the 1980s, all Jerry Mahoney wanted was a nice, normal sham marriage: 2.5 kids and a frustrated, dissatisfied wife living in denial of her husband’s sexuality. Hey, why not? It seemed much more attainable and fulfilling than the alternative—coming out of the closet and making peace with the fact that he’d never have a family at all.
Twenty years later, Jerry is living with his long-term boyfriend, Drew, and they’re ready to take the plunge into parenthood. But how? Adoption? Foster parenting? Kidnapping? What they want most of all is a great story to tell their future kid about where he or she came from.
Their search leads them to gestational surrogacy, a road less traveled where they’ll be borrowing a stranger’s ladyparts for nine months. Thus begins Jerry and Drew’s hilarious and unexpected journey to daddyhood.
From then on, they’re in uncharted waters. They’re forced to face down homophobic baby store clerks, a hospital that doesn’t know what to do with them, even members of their own family who think what they’re doing is a little nutty. One thing’s for sure. If this all works out, they’re going to have an incredible birth story to tell their kid.
With honesty, emotion, and laugh-out-loud humor, Jerry Mahoney ponders what it means to become a Mommy Man . . . and discovers that the answer is as varied and beautiful as the concept of family itself.
This guy. This fuckin’ guy. He rarely knows whether he’s coming or going. He’s currently a full-time SAHD for three kids under the age of five and holds down a FT writing career on the side. You can find him at Dad or Alive, The Huffington Post or TODAY Parents. WAIT… this guy is me.
When Adrian Kulp first learned that he was about to become a father, he was essentially a teenage boy trapped in the body of a thirty-two-year-old high-powered executive. He did what his wife asked him to do: grow up. He packed away his Phillies baseball memorabilia, hid his GI Joes, and converted their guest bedroom from his private man cave into a nursery. Goodbye sticky beer cozy. Hello Diaper Genie.
Based on his mercilessly funny and brutally honest blog, here is the hilarious story of one man’s journey from being the one who brings home the bacon to the one who fries it—along with assembling the crib, learning how to “accessorize” his daughter, and flying with an infant for the first time. From numbing booze-free co-ed baby showers to navigating the Farmer’s Market with a baby (and loaded diaper) strapped to his chest, to locking himself out of a childproofed toilet, this often-sweaty and exhausted SAHD (stay-at-home dad) gets down and dirty about surviving life as a new parent—dad or alive.
THE GUIDE TO BABY SLEEP POSITIONS: SURVIVAL TIPS FOR CO-SLEEPING PARENTS – by ANDY HERALD & CHARLIE CAPEN
What can you say that hasn’t already been said about this dynamic duo? Andy & Charlie have been on the forefront of the dad space with their site ‘How To Be a Dad‘…they’re innovators, artists, wordsmiths and graphic assassins. I’m happy to have forged a friendship with these two insanely devoted dads over the past few years.
Anyone who has tried to sleep with a baby is probably familiar with “The Snow Angel,” “The Booby Trap,” and “The Roundhouse Kick”; they’ve experienced these sleep positions even if they didn’t know their official names. Now, with The Guide to Baby Sleep Positions, new parents can identify exactly which bedtime contortions they’ve already mastered and perhaps preview some positions that baby hasn’t tried yet.
Andy Herald and Charlie Capen are the talented dads behind the growing entertainment website HowToBeADad.com. Andy is a graphic designer and Charlie is an actor; together, they crank out a humorous stream of “anti-instructional” parenting content in the form of info-graphics, spoofy product ideas, and hilarious videos. All of their posts generate hundreds of “shares” across social media, but the Baby Sleep Positions stand out for garnering the biggest buzz.
The Guide to Baby Sleep Positions features some of the most popular posts on the site (we can’t leave out “H is for Hell” or “Jazz Hands”), but two-thirds of the content will be unique to the book, and ALL of the positions will be accompanied by new text. Packaged as a gifty paperback with flaps and priced at $9.95, the book is an irresistible gift for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or a baby shower, or simply as a shared laugh between new parents.
IT TAKES BALLS: DATING SINGLE MOMS AND OTHER CONFESSIONS FROM AN UNPREPARED SINGLE DAD – by JOSH WOLF
Josh is an old buddy of mine from my days of working for Chelsea Lately. He’s comedian, musician, appears regularly on ‘Chelsea Lately’ and just got done hosting ‘Naked and Afraid After Dark’ for The Discovery Channel. Check him out on the road!
Josh Wolf–one of the stars and writers of Chelsea Lately and After Lately–delivers a hilarious collection of essays that reminds us all what it takes to conquer fatherhood without sacrificing manhood.
Struggling to make it as a stand-up comic didn’t always fit with being a single parent. But Josh figured out his own set of rules–through trial and (frequent) error. Early picking up kids from school? The nearby strip club is a great place to kill time and bond with some like-minded dads. Want a drunken heart-to-heart with your son? First make sure there’s no Sharpie around in case you pass out. Wondering where to take that special someone at the end of the night? Remember that no sane woman will have sex with you in a one-bedroom apartment where your kids are sleeping–even if you promise to be really, really quiet.
Whether it’s revealing the secrets to limitless hookups (hint: it’s single moms) and getting rid of your children’s friends that you just can’t stand (hint: it’s not single moms), or blackmailing PTA members and ignoring health codes, Josh is sure to impart some parenting wisdom along the way. Or at least have a good time trying.
THIS IS RIDICULOUS THIS IS AMAZING – by JASON GOOD
I’ve never met Jason, but I appreciate his honesty. He left his job at The New York Times to pursue writing and comedy – something I’m very familiar with, well, except for the NYT bit. Unless I’m mistaken, he currently lives in Minneapolis and you can read more about him here.
Jason Good delivers a laugh-out-loud reminder that everything is easier and more fun when approached with a sense of humor–especially parenting. Each list captures a perfect (or perfectly terrible) aspect of parenthood while wholeheartedly embracing every moment: “You Deserve a Break” offers ideas for downtime, such as giving blood and untangling cords, while “Self-Help from a Three-Year-Old” collects such wisdom as “If you fall down, stay down. Someone will pick you up eventually.” Sweet, sincere, and oh-so-true, this is the ideal gift for parents who could use a laugh. And isn’t that every single one of them?
SUGAR MILK: WHAT ONE DAD DRINKS WHEN HE CAN’T AFFORD VODKA – by RON MATTOCKS
Ron is another guy that I don’t think I’ve had the chance to meet in person yet (Ron, if that’s a lie, I apologize), but he’s a Pennsylvania native like myself AND he and I are also working together as contributing writers with TODAY Parents. Find him riiiiight…. HERE.
By all appearances, Ron Mattocks was leading a successful life. As he drove a fast car to and from his downtown loft and his executive job, he considered himself a good father, even transferring across the country to live closer to his three sons after his divorce. But after an unexpected economic downturn, Ron suddenly began to question everything he knew about success and fatherhood.
After surviving the ups and downs of Internet dating, Ron shares how he remarried, inherited two stepdaughters, and then lost his job, subsequently becoming a stay-at-home dad. In this hilarious and touching account of his daily battles against subversive Care Bears, fire-belching demons, the pancake mafia, and his own masculinity-all while struggling to reunite with his children-Ron provides a glimpse into how he took lemons and created not only lemonade, but a lifetime of memories with his family.
From his highest highs to his lowest lows, Ron Mattocks shares the compelling story of how, without a parenting manual in sight, he learned to fumble his way through fatherhood with modesty, courage, and a whole lot of humor.
DADS BEHAVING DADLY: 67 TRUTHS, TEARS AND TRIUMPHS OF MODERN FATHERHOOD – by HOGAN HILLING & AL WATTS
I met Hogan and Al at the same time, a little over two years ago in the Houston airport on my way to my first Dad Summit. Al is the President of the National At-Home Dad network and can be found here, with Hogan being located right here.
More and more fathers are asserting themselves and actively taking part in changing diapers, attending doctor’s appointments, participating in PTA meetings and helping with homework. The 67 truths, tears and triumphs detailed in this book explain how dads are becoming more involved parents without sacrificing their masculinity. Dads of different socio-economic backgrounds, races and family structures candidly describe successes they have achieved as actively, involved parents and how they felt about them. Their honest, heart-warming, and humorous stories provide an in-depth look into how fatherhood has changed. They are “Dads Behaving DADLY.”
Jim is an old friend of mine from my days as the comic booker on ‘The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” at CBS. I had the pleasure of having him on the show 2 or 3 times during my tenure there and you honestly can’t find a better guy that is THIS funny. A true professional in every sense of the word – Jim is simply amazing. If you haven’t seen him live or listened to any of his albums, give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed.
In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald’s, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children—everything from cousins (“celebrities for little kids”) to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”). Reminiscent of Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood, Dad is Fat is sharply observed, explosively funny, and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.
Okay, so I lied. There are 11 books… and this one might be one of the most important to read…
BOBBLEHEAD DAD: 25 LIFE LESSONS I FORGOT I KNEW – by JIM HIGLEY
I‘ve had the pleasure of meeting Jim on several occasions and he’s a lover of life, always looking out for others and an inspiration for us all. I guarantee you’ve seen him on his numerous TV appearances, but if you haven’t, check him out here.
Jim Higley was a forty-year-old bobblehead. Just like those collectible figurines with oversized, bouncy heads, he’d put on a smiling face and bobble through his hectic, overflowing days.
Higley’s bobbling came to a screeching halt with the diagnosis of cancer, surgery, and a summer of healing. More than a cancer story, however, Bobblehead Dad puts you in a front row seat as the author discovers the illuminating parallels between events in his childhood and his adulthood. Higley, whose weekly fatherhood column appears in the Chicago Tribune’s TribLocal, unwraps poignant lessons from his family history with rich, vivid detail. His story reveals meaning in simple moments and the people who fill them–including the surprise discovery of his most important lesson, which had been quietly waiting for over thirty years.
Written in an informal but eloquent style, Bobblehead Dad keeps you laughing, crying and–most importantly–thinking. Higley’s distinctive storytelling rhythm, combined with a knack for handling heavy topics with an embraceable voice, quickly draws you into his experiences–while launching you on your own journey of self-discovery and reflection.
I’m positive that I’ve forgotten a few more, but we’ll leave it at that.
Support these devoted dads this Father’s Day, order their books, check out their sites and read about their lives… you might find something close to home.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!
We haven’t officially met in person, but we’re going to change that in the near future. (Thanks for the inclusion among this stand-out bunch.)
Thanks for sharing — good example of how the Dad movement has moved deeper into the popular press. This Dad’s Day season saw a lot of printed and online content to consume, and will look for more to come. We all had those ‘deep sh!t’ moments — they just change into metaphorical ones as the kids become teens.