A MahoganyBooks Father’s Day Book List

Giving Dad the Gift of Books, Words, & Peace of Mind

Father’s Day is right around the corner. If your dad is anything like mine you are probably thinking of purchasing him something dealing with sports, music, or that new gadget/tool. Well, let me suggest an alternative. How about a getting your father the gift of mental relaxation? Below is a list of ten books, specifically selected for:

  • The history buff dad …the guy who falls asleep watching the History Channel every night.
  • The social science and political dad …the father who constantly talks back to CNN, MSNBC, or simply screams at the Fox News channel.
  • The aspirational, go-getter dad …my daughter knows this guy well; the one goes on long, never-ending monologues about reaching your potential.
  • The new or expectant fathers …for those guys praying that his wife won’t ask him to read that terrible new mom book to get prepared; well now there’s a book written for him. (…and it’s by a football player.)

Whichever type of guy you are shopping for this Father’s Day; my suggestion is to get him a book along with his favorite “Daddy drink” and a restful day in the backyard or park. Every dad could use some downtime away from the hustle and bustle of killing spiders, carrying groceries, and changing light bulbs. The books we’ve curated below are sure to be special hits with your super special, one-of-a-kind dad.

Happy Father’s Day


Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Just Mercy
by Bryan Stevenson

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice–from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever. Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of justice.

Middle Passage by Charles Johnson
Middle Passage
by Charles Johnson

A savage parable of the black experience in America…blending confessional, ship’s log, and adventure…in luxuriant, intoxicating prose. — Publishers Weekly

Rutherford Calhoun, a newly freed slave and irrepressible rogue, is lost in the underworld of 1830s New Orleans. Desperate to escape the city’s unscrupulous bill collectors and the pawing hands of a schoolteacher hellbent on marrying him, he jumps aboard the Republic, a slave ship en route to collect members of a legendary African tribe, the Allmuseri. Thus begins a voyage of metaphysical horror and human atrocity, a journey which challenges our notions of freedom, fate and how we live together. Peopled with vivid and unforgettable characters, nimble in its interplay of comedy and serious ideas, this dazzling modern classic is a perfect blend of the picaresque tale, historical romance, sea yarn, slave narrative and philosophical allegory.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
A Brief History of Seven Killings
by Marlon James

A “thrilling, ambitious . . . intense” (Los Angeles Times) novel that explores the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the late 1970s.

In A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James combines masterful storytelling with his unrivaled skill at characterization and his meticulous eye for detail to forge a novel of dazzling ambition and scope.

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions in Kingston, seven unnamed gunmen stormed the singer’s house, machine guns blazing. The attack wounded Marley, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Little was officially released about the gunmen, but rumors abounded regarding the assassins’ fates. A Brief History of Seven Killings is James’s fictional exploration of that dangerous and unstable time in Jamaica’s history and beyond. Deftly spanning decades and continents and peopled with a wide range of characters–assassins, drug dealers, journalists, and even ghosts–James brings to life the people who walked the streets of 1970s Kingston, who dominated the crack houses of 1980s New York, and who reemerged into a radically altered Jamaica of the 1990s. Brilliantly inventive, A Brief History of Seven Killings is an “exhilarating” (The New York Times) epic that’s been called “a tour de force” (The Wall Street Journal).

Song of the Shank by Jeffrey Renard Allen
Song of the Shank
by Jeffrey Renard Allen

“Big, ambitious, picaresque, and beautiful.” — San Francisco Chronicle

A contemporary American masterpiece about music, race, an unforgettable man, and an unreal America during the Civil War era.

At the heart of this remarkable novel is Thomas Greene Wiggins, a nineteenth-century slave and improbable musical genius who performed under the name Blind Tom.”

Song of the Shank opens in 1866 as Tom and his guardian, Eliza Bethune, struggle to adjust to their fashionable apartment in the city in the aftermath of riots that had driven them away a few years before. But soon a stranger arrives from the mysterious island of Edgemere–inhabited solely by African settlers and black refugees from the war and riots–who intends to reunite Tom with his now-liberated mother.

As the novel ranges from Tom’s boyhood to the heights of his performing career, the inscrutable savant is buffeted by opportunistic teachers and crooked managers, crackpot healers and militant prophets. In his symphonic novel, Jeffery Renard Allen blends history and fantastical invention to bring to life a radical cipher, a man who profoundly changes all who encounter him.

From the Browder File by Anthony T. Browder
From the Browder File
by Tony Browder

This offering features 22 Essays on the African American Experience written by Anthony T. Browder.

We can be led to act in our own interest as a group if we tune into, and add to, our mental diets, the liberating thoughts that are provided for us in the From The Browder File. No person or group outside of our own is likely to see our need for a collective rebirth of consciousness.

Essays include discussions on topics such as lifestyle practices that destroy the very essence of existence, subliminal media messages which corrupt mind, body and soul and how current fads and fashion trends affect African Americans. Browder’s critical interpretations of systems of mis-education and mis-information bear witness to his wisdom and continued struggle for truth and righteousness.

The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
The Light of the World
by Elizabeth Alexander

A deeply resonant memoir for anyone who has loved and lost, from acclaimed poet and Pulitzer Prize finalist Elizabeth Alexander.

In THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, Elizabeth Alexander finds herself at an existential crossroads after the sudden death of her husband. Channeling her poetic sensibilities into a rich, lucid price, Alexander tells a love story that is, itself, a story of loss. As she reflects on the beauty of her married life, the trauma resulting from her husband’s death, and the solace found in caring for her two teenage sons, Alexander universalizes a very personal quest for meaning and acceptance in the wake of loss.

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD is at once an endlessly compelling memoir and a deeply felt meditation on the blessings of love, family, art, and community. It is also a lyrical celebration of a life well-lived and a paean to the priceless gift of human companionship. For those who have loved and lost, or for anyone who cares what matters most, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD is required reading.

Kill ‘Em and Leave by James McBride
Kill 'Em and Leave
by James McBride

The definitive look at one of the greatest, most important entertainers, The Godfather, Da Number One Soul Brother, Mr. Please, Please Himself JAMES BROWN. –Spike Lee

“Kill ‘Em and Leave” is more than a book about James Brown. Brown’s rough-and-tumble life, through McBride’s lens, is an unsettling metaphor for American life: the tension between North and South, black and white, rich and poor. McBride’s travels take him to forgotten corners of Brown’s never-before-revealed history: the country town where Brown’s family and thousands of others were displaced by America s largest nuclear power bomb-making facility; a South Carolina field where a long-forgotten cousin recounts, in the dead of night, a fuller history of Brown’s sharecropping childhood, which until now has been a mystery. McBride seeks out the American expatriate in England who co-created the James Brown sound, visits the trusted right-hand manager who worked with Brown for forty-one years, and interviews Brown’s most influential nonmusical creation, his adopted son, the Reverend Al Sharpton.

James McBride is one of the most distinctive and electric literary voices in America today, and part of the pleasure of his narrative is being in his presence, coming to understand Brown through McBride’s own insights as a black musician with Southern roots.”Kill ‘Em and Leave” is a song unearthing and celebrating James Brown’s great legacy: the cultural landscape of America today.

For the Love of… by Marcus Johnson
For the Love of...
by Marcus Johnson

For the Love Of… will inspire, motivate, and empower you to figure life out regardless of your circumstances.

For the Love Of… is a collection of essays containing personal advice from Marcus Johnson, an accomplished musician and entrepreneur. Marcus has managed to stay afloat in cutthroat industries, ultimately achieving success, despite venturing into the saturated markets of live and recorded music and wine and spirits. Along the way, he encountered many obstacles and faced numerous pitfalls that almost cost him his sense of self. Forging ahead against the grain, Marcus fell into his groove and began to find joy even in the midst of working his way around countless roadblocks on his path to success.

Within these pages, Marcus shares the lessons that helped him cope as he rode out the highs and low of making his dreams a reality. He provides practical strategies and techniques that will inspire you to discover your purpose, pursue your passion, and stay the course in spite of perceived challenges.

The New Dad’s Playbook by Benjamin Watson
The New Dad's Playbook
by Benjamin Watson

“If you’re a man preparing for your first child, you must read this book. If you already have children, you’ll want to read it as you continue to grow your family.”– Tony Dungy, bestselling author of Quiet Strength and Uncommon

New moms have unending resources to plan and execute a healthy pregnancy and navigate those first months and years as a parent with confidence. New dads? Not so much. Super Bowl champion and father of five Benjamin Watson wants to change all that.

The New Dad’s Playbook is every man’s game plan to being the best partner and the best father, from preseason (preparing for fatherhood) to Super Bowl (birth) to postseason (after baby is home). It helps men understand what their wives are going through physically and emotionally during and after pregnancy, allowing them to support their most important teammate. It tells men what to expect when their baby is home–and what to do when the unexpected happens.

This tell-it-like-it-is book will take new dads from just winging it to winning it.

You Can Make it Happen by Stedman Graham
You Can Make it Happen
by Stedman Graham

“You Can Make It Happen” shows how to chart a course that can enable you to superimpose success over all of the doubts, insecurities, and life difficulties that threaten to keep achievement elusive.

For the people who know Stedman Graham as one of the nation’s most quietly active community business leaders, it may be hard to envision the time when he was held back by considerable self-doubt.

He was. He grappled, also, with his share of daunting obstacles to the success he has worked at length to enjoy. Graham explains, “You are not your circumstances; you are your possibilities.” He is tenacious in his commitment to the idea that all can overcome adversity and build self-esteem by determining who they are, creating a vision of success for themselves, and then working doggedly to realize this vision.

In formulating his Nine-Step Plan for Success, Graham draws candidly on his experience as a professional athlete, the founder of the not-for-profit Athletes Against Drugs, and as a corporate and community leader who sits on the national boards of Junior Achievement and the Urban League. This plan is grounded in his conviction that the circumstances of your past are not nearly as significant as your belief in your capabilities and your determination to carry through a plan to accomplish your goals. Graham explains, through revealing anecdotes from his own life and the experiences of others, how the negative effects of a poor self-image can be incapacitating at worst, and limiting at best.


About MahoganyBooks 235 Articles
MahoganyBooks is an online bookstore that believes in social entrepreneurship. We take a leadership role in the African American community promoting reading, writing, and cultural awareness as tools to improve communities as well as enrich the lives of motivated individuals.

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