The Booktopia Book Guru’s Gift Guide For Father’s Day

by |August 17, 2011



Though I think it right to celebrate Father’s Day, I do believe it is prudent to temper our collective enthusiasm for the day slightly. Granted, some dad’s deserve unchecked praise, but we all know that these few are in the minority. To allow Father’s Day to carry the same emotional weight as Mother’s Day would surely be folly… and dangerous.

That said, we all have to get through the day and we all need to buy the old bugger a gift. I find that books are the perfect Father’s Day present. Neat, discreet, not overly flashy… All in all, they hit the right note.

Wasting precious time deciding what your dad might like is unnecessary – all you need to do is match one of my approximations with your dad and take a punt on one of the four offered titles. Simple.

All of the titles listed below are available for you to buy at Booktopia. Just click on a pic for more details.


At the last family meeting he handed out iPads, each one pre-loaded with the family mission statement, a spreadsheet containing each individual’s targets, to be met bi-monthly and evaluated quarterly, an entire year’s itinerary, including further meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, important school dates, and, with a nod to your mother, he informed you all, “smiley faces denote scheduled ‘date nights’”.

click a pic for more details


Whether he’s out in the shed throwing baked beans, eggs and porridge at a canvass, or calling a poorly cut hedge a kangaroo, or taking daily photos of his toenails, noting their growth and colouration and then posting the pics on his blog called Continental Drift, your dad is an ‘artist’ and should be taken seriously. Wait, who am I kidding? Your dad is a sad, sad, individual who needs new direction – try these titles on him. It’s all I have…


He asked your mum to marry him at The Melbourne Cup. His greyhounds are called Warnie, Cadel, Leyton, and Thorpie. He flew to Germany to support the Socceroos even though he’d always said soccer was a girl’s sport. And when Australia last lost The Ashes he went into deep mourning. He locked the ‘pool room’, flagellated himself wearing a smelly All-Black’s jersey, covered the Monaro in black crepe and unplugged Foxtel.


When Adventure Dad is not pretending to be Bear Grylls in the overgrown corner of the backyard, he’s under the house ‘caving’ chomping on cockroaches. Having grown up on the original Star Trek episodes he once planned “to boldly go where no man has gone before” but that was before marriage and kids, that was before he could rest his beer on his belly, that was before courage had come to mean driving past an empty carspace in the Woolies carpark in the hope of finding one closer.


The best thing about the modern world is that Sensitive Dad needs not be ashamed any more. He can shed a tear watching The Notebook, he can weep watching MasterChef, he can even ball his eyes out watching a Huggies commercial and nobody, not me, not you, can do a damned thing to stop him. Tissues, please.


You learnt to drive at seven. You could take apart and reassemble an engine at eleven. Your family moved to Bathurst when you were in your teens so that your dad could be closer to Conrod Straight. Years later when you were all grown up, you were invited home for the unveiling of a statue your dad had commissioned without telling your mum. With tears in his eyes he pulled the sheet away revealing an eight-foot tall, nude of Peter Brock. The next day, your mum walked out.


Even though your dad is retired he never seems to stop. Truth is, no dad truly retires. There is always too much to do. He was always a great help around the house, but now he is really indispensable. One moment he is watching the plumber fix the sink he had recently ‘fixed’ himself. The next he is instructing the fellows who came to put up new guttering after the old guttering had fallen off mysteriously while Retiree Dad was fixing the satellite dish, which funnily enough no longer works. After that, he is down at the mechanics ‘helping’ the boys change the oil, saying ‘oh, the oil goes in there, does it?’ Indispensable.


Of all the dads to be lumped in with, Boffin Dad is the best. Sure, you have no idea what he is saying most of the time. Sure, he has a room full of Star Wars memorabilia. Sure, he occasionally reminds you of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Sure, you have no idea how you were ever actually conceived. On the plus side, the guy does know how to put your iPad back together, he doesn’t bother you with superfluous chit-chat, he is always cashed up and when you were being bullied on Facebook he called Mark Zuckerberg and had all the bullies erased. Erased from Facebook? Don’t ask.


Art imitates life and there is no greater example of this than TV Dad. Mr Brady must been modelled on someone, right? Well, TV Dad is that original. Tall, good looking, polite, a good father, a good listener, tough but fair, a perfect husband, successful at work and always around when you need him. Wait a moment… when does perfect become too perfect? What do we really know about the death of the first Mrs Brady?


At age five, Deep Dad awarded you a provisional right to existence. As he hadn’t concluded his inquires into the meaning of his own existence, he thought it the least he could do. Besides, at five he thought you the wisest of philosophers with your continual questioning of the universe. Why is the sky blue, dad? Why is poop brown? Admittedly, since those glory days, you have been nothing but a bitter disappointment.


You are not entirely sure when you realised that yours was not a single parent household. But you do know that every time your father shifted slightly in his chair, you jumped as if a stone statue had come to life. He once told you he was a time traveller, but though you watched him read, he never vanished, except to go to the library. He also said that to understand the present you had to understand the past, but you always wondered what in the present there was for him to understand as he never seemed to do anything.


You remember standing in the garden by the veggie patch as a small child naming all of the vegetables aloud. “There are cawwots, and bwoccoli, and tomadoes, and podadoes, and daddy’s special medicine, and cauwiflower, and peas…” You also remember your dad once trying to cure your fever by interpretative dance. What you can’t remember is when it was exactly that you stopped calling him dad and started calling him long distance.


We should never judge a person by the way they look. Take Bikie Dad for instance. On the outside he is clad in well-worn leathers, has a handle bar moustache, a scar across his forehead, eyes lost under a heavy brow, a barrel chest, and smells as though he just rolled in corpses. But beneath this harsh exterior, once we get to know him, once we suppress our unfair prejudices, we discover a man who is warm, generous and capable of running over puppies for fun. Doh!

NB: Publishers can (and do) change covers without warning & titles are available only while publisher’s stocks last

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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  • August 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    “That was before courage had come to mean driving past an empty carspace in the Woolies carpark in the hope of finding one closer.”

    Love it! This is brilliant.

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