Tag Archives: Justin Halpern

Books & Co wants to suggest some books for Dads this Father’s Day

Father’s Day is next weekend and if you’re like me, you find Mother’s Day a much easier holiday.  It’s not that I don’t love my Dad, I do, I really, really do.  He’s the most patient man on the face of the planet, creative, thoughtful and he can fix any problem big or small, but it’s just much easier for me to get presents for my mom, probably because Mom and I like the same kinds of things.  I like some to the same thinks my Dad does (golf, gardening, hockey) but I just have to think a little bit harder about how to celebrate Father’s Day.  To that end, I polled the other booksters here at Books & Co, and went through our shelves for Father’s Day ideas so we all have an easier time celebrating our wonderful Dads!

For dads that like the outdoors we’ve got lots of great books about hunting, fishing, camping and more. I pulled a couple of books off the shelf to give you an idea of what’s out there. A book I frequently recommend is Fly Fishing BC’s Interior: A Fly Fisher’s Guide to the Central Interior and North Cariboo Waters by Brian Smith.  It’s got more than 80 custom fly patterns and fly tying could be a fun activity to try with your dad.  I also flipped through Ralph and Judy Maida’s The Stories Behind the Dinners: Big Game Hunting Stories and Wild Game Cooking Recipes and this combination of wild hunting stories and recipes is exactly what it says it is.  It’s filled with stories about hunting everything from bear to moose and recipes – including roast beaver, grouse stroganoff and barbequed black bear – to cook it all.  And of course, if your dad doesn’t have a copy of Mike Nash’s Outdoor Safety and Survival, you should pick one up.  It’s full of useful information and captivating anecdotes and it could save his life.

If your dad is more of a do-it-yourself, Mr. Fix-it type guy, we’ve got books for that too. There are multiple books about carving, for beginners to experts looking for new techniques, and some very interesting project books, like Building with Secondhand Stuff: How to re-claim, re-vamp, re-purpose & re-use salvaged & leftover building materials by Chris Peterson.  From where to find salvaged materials, including wood, metal, stone, glass and architectural accents, to how to strip old varnish and remove grime without damaging the reclaimed item, this book is an excellent resource.  It also has projects, and includes safety tips, and general information about working with each type of material.  Handmade Music Factory: The Ultimate Guide to Making Foot-Stompin’-Good Instruments by Mike Orr is a really interesting project book, too.  It’s got some fascinating projects including how to make a cookie tin guitar and a one string washtub bass and includes information on how to electrify your homemade instruments.  This is the perfect book for a folk music loving, handcrafting dad.  

Not every dad has the time or inclination to be making stuff from scratch though.  For the overworked dad who just needs a break, there are some funny, fascinating and fabulous books too.  Jordan gave her dad Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern (we reviewed his new book I Suck at Girls recently, too) and he laughed until he cried at Justin’s Dad’s hilarious quips.  Or, if your dad is slightly quirky, how about giving him The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks (author of the fascinating zombie apocalypse novel World War Z).  It’s funny, scary and perfect if your dad is just a little bit convinced zombies are inevitable (or if he just likes HBO’s The Walking Dead).  We’ve also got some very good books of interesting questions and answers.  What Did We Use Before Toilet Paper: 200 Curious Questions & Intriguing Answers by Andrew Thompson is an excellent resource if you want to know things like “what’s the difference between an ocean and a sea?” or “why don’t igloos melt on the inside?”

We’ve also got some great books for dads who just like to read! If your dad is interest in aviation or BC’s remote wilderness communities, Atlin’s Anguish by Brendan Lillis is a great choice.  It tells the story of the aftermath of one tragic plane crash for a pilot and her tiny community and gives extensive insight into aviation in the most remote parts of British Columbia.  Robert W. Mackay’s Soldier of the Horse is another great book.  It’s a novel that fictionalizes the true story of the last great Canadian cavalry regiment, Lord Strathcona’s Horse.  And, perennial favorite Guy Vanderhaeghe’s newest novel A Good Man is also an excellent choice if your dad likes historical fiction, westerns or just a really good read. Set at the end of the Wild West and crossing the American/Canadian border, A Good Man is peopled with memorable characters and complexity.  It’s a great choice for dads with some time to read this summer.

And of course, you can always just drop in and get some advice from our fantastic booksters.  We’ve all got personal favorites in the various sections around the store and can help you find the book that is perfect for your dad.

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Book Review: I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern

Justin Halpern is funny.  It’s that simple.  And fans of Justin Halpern’s Sh*t My Dad Says will be happy to have another book in the same vein.  I Suck at Girls is a self-deprecating memoir of his experience with women from the first girl he liked – and tormented – at age seven to the day he proposed to his wife Amanda.

Unlike Sh*t My Dad Says, I Suck at Girls focuses solely on Justin, and only includes a few of his Dad’s classic bon mots (“do you realize I’m a crazy son of bitch who owns a shotgun and hates shadowy figures walking around in his fucking house?”) but that shouldn’t dissuade readers.  In fact, the longer, more in depth recollections are hilarious and touching and give an insight into one man’s struggle to understand women and his relationship to them, which until he met Amanda was usually terrible.  I Suck at Girls makes it clear that Halpern does not need to rely on his father’s one liners to get a laugh and that his own life, and his willingness to expose its most embarrassing elements, is enough to keep readers entertained.

I Suck at Girls is not high art.  It’s not going to go down in history as one of the classics of English literature, but not every book needs to be an emotionally complex, angst filled literary masterpiece.  It’s funny, really funny and that’s enough to make it one of the best books in the Humour Section here at Books & Company and one of the funniest memoirs in the Biography Section.

Nicole Larson

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