Thursday, June 16, 2011

Father's Day books - Our First XI

Ah Father's Day. A day close to my own heart, for personal and professional reasons. When I was a boy, we didn't celebrate Father's Day (in fact, was there ever a Father's Day 40-odd years ago?). In those days there seemed to be a stiff-upper-lipped "we-don't-do-that-kind-of-thing" agreement between father and son. An old maths teacher of mine use to rail against creeping americanisation (not spelled with a 'z' naturally) and I remember him singling out Father's Day as a classic case in point.

But these are different times, and a day celebrating Dads is very worthwhile. And whilst I would not dream of suggesting that flowers or chocolates would not be appropriate gifts (I'd be very happy to receive them), there's something about a good, solid, man-book that works well as a gift, but still carries an echo of a past stiff-lipped age ("Here you are Father, didn't want to make a fuss, got you a book on WG Grace, I'll be off then").

Anyway, this Father's Day all of us at Mostly Books have worked really hard to read through and recommend some fabulous Father's Day gifts, giving you perhaps a bit more inspiration than the piles of Clarkson tottering precariously at your local supermarket. Part gripping read, part improving book - here are our top man-books for Father's Day on June 19th:

How To Avoid Being Killed In A War Zone- Rosie Garthwaite (£12.99, Bloomsbury)
"What might have been a dry how-to manual, or a thrill-fest for armchair tourists, is actually a well-written, practical yet readable manual that does exactly what it says on the front. Peppered with anecdotes and advice from many journalists and reporters, the book helps you build intuition which I would suggest is useful wherever you travel in the world. Advice on coping with the heat and stress relief provides some more lighthearted - but nevertheless extremely useful - little gems which are as useful in Tenerife as they are in Tripoli." - Mark

Bed - David Whitehouse (£11.99, Canongate)
"Bed is a coming-of-age novel like no other about a man with huge prospects who, one day, goes to bed and decides never to get out again. Told through the eyes of Mal's younger brother, you're carried on a roller coaster of emotions. It's fantastic writing that is humorous and engaging, and it's a vivid and imaginative debut novel that explores the metamorphosis of a young man and the effect of love, loss and family on a lifetime." - Ellie

The Way of Kings Part 1- Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz, 8.99)"From the mighty Gollabcz, the first in a new series from Brandon Sanderson, contributor to the latest Wheel of Time and author of The Mistborn Trilogy. A man sold into slavery, a Warlord, a thief, a liar and a renowned Scholar are just a few of the characters in this complex story of war and conflict set in a whole new world. Good start to what I hope will become a classic fantasy series. Get in at the start..." - Julia

Inflight Science - Brian Clegg (£12.99, Icon Books)
This is one of those 'cor, I wish I had written that' books, a deceptively simple concept brilliantly executed. This marvellous little book tells you all about the sights, sounds and experiences (not to mention rock-hard engineering) going on from your vantage point in your aircraft seat. Packed with facts, figures and head-scratching information it sets out to restore some of that childlike excitement that you used to feel before air travel became 'yet another damned business trip'...I also like the fact that author Brian Clegg is a regular bearded British bloke living in Wiltshire. Top Dad points!" - Mark

The Damned Busters Matthew Hughes (Angry Robot, £7.99)
"Chock full of humour, this is a fantastic romp with superheroes, Satan and a strike in hell. Given the choice of selling his soul to the devil, Chesney says no - only to find there are disastrous consequences. An interesting concept and a mismatched duo of costumed, crime fighting hero and demon sidekick make for an hilarious novel. This book is perfect for fans of Tom Holt and Robert Rankin." - Ellie

The Natural Navigator - Tristan Gooley (Ebury Press, £14.99)
"Get Dad to put aside the GPS this Father's Day and go out with this book and do some Natural Navigating. In Tristan Gooley's hands it can be surprisingly simple to work out directions from the sky, to get your bearings in a wood, or find inspiration in the drying of a puddle! Great stuff for those dads that want to be Steve Backshall or Bear Grylls - or for anyone who wants to turn a camping trip into a really wild experience!" - Nicki

Fall of Giants - Ken Follett (Pan Macmillan, £8.99)
"Starting in 1911 this book follows the lives of five families from different countries and social backgrounds. With his usual skill for historical descriptions and his attention to detail, Ken Follett takes you into situations as diverse as a mine collapse in Wales to the battlefield at the Somme, through World War 1 to the Russian Revolution and the struggle for votes for Women. Although a big book, it's extremely easy to read with an engaging plot and likeable, believable characters." - Julia

 
Fold - Tom Campbell (Bloomsbury, £11.99)
"Fold is fresh, blackly funny and aimed unashamedly at us blokes. It tells the story of five men, who meet once a month at each other's houses to play poker. But against this suburban backdrop, the stresses, strains and petty jealousies of each of the men's lives begins to impact not just on the poker they play, but on their lives, and the lives of those around them. Leading their 'lives of quiet desperation', one of the group - unlucky, bitter, a loser - decides he will bring down the alpha male. The result, not at all obvious, and nicely ambiguous, has consequences for everyone as they decide whether to raise...or fold. Definitely an author to watch. Oh, and a great cover!" - Mark

Peter Pan's First XI: The Extraordinary Story of J. M. Barrie's Cricket Team - Kevin Telfer (Sceptre, £8.99)
"Coinciding (loosely) with the 150th anniversary of JM Barrie's birth, this gem of a book tells the story of JM Barrie's cricket team, who included at various times AA Milne, PG Wodehouse and Jerome K Jerome. Fired with enthusiasm, lacking actual talent, they embodied a spirit of the times, an England about to descend into mud and trenches of WWI. A really lovely little book." - Karen

Other People's Money - Justin Cartwright (Bloomsbury, £12.99)
"Both comic and clever, a stunning page-turning read about a banker in the aftermath of the banking crisis. Brilliant, engrossing and laugh-out-loud funny. My favourite book of the year." - Nicki


Carte Blanche - Jeffery Deaver (Hodder, £19.99)
Jeffery Deaver has great fun bringing Bond bang up to date, with i(Q)Phone Apps, brand names galore, and a truly great cast of characters including a creepy death-obsessed villain, an extremely nasty henchman, and even a scheming weasel of an upper-class MI5 colleague. All told with such an easy English charm that Deaver must be in line for an honorary knighthood. And we have a few signed copies left from our recent event..." - Mark

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