Good Dads, Bad Dads, and In-Between: A Selection of Unforgettable Fathers

From great to complicated to downright bad, there are all kinds of dads on our shelves! Some are real, captured in memoirs (some by their children, some by the dads themselves), and some are iconic fictional creations.

In honor of Father’s Day weekend, here’s a selection of books with memorable dads and father figures! Who’s your favorite literary dad?

To Kill a Mockingbird

Is lawyer Atticus Finch the most famous literary dad? Would we love him so much if he didn’t look like Gregory Peck in our heads? We’ll never know, but Harper Lee’s novel has left its mark on generations of readers.

The Road

Can The Father keep his son safe as they journey across a perilous post-apocalyptic landscape? A cheerful read from the master of the contemporary American western.


Billed as a “novel” because Scandinavia doesn’t really have a memoir category, Unquiet is a gorgeous meditation on memory, aging, making art, and living well, written by filmmaker Ingmar Bergman’s daughter, Linn Ullmann.

The Song Poet

Award-winning author Kao Kalia Yang turns to memories of her father, a Hmong “song poet”—one who recounts the story of his people, their history and tragedies, joys and losses.

Small Fry

Part portrait of a complex family, part love letter to California in the seventies and eighties, Small Fry is a poignant coming-of-age story from Lisa Brennan-Jobs. Can you guess who her dad was?

Angela’s Ashes

Frank McCourt’s bestselling memoir is about his whole family and childhood, but his father is a standout character. Despite his failings, Malachy–exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling–nurtures in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story.

Being a Dad is Weird

A funny and intimate look at fatherhood from the actor, writer, and director Ben Falcone that combines stories about his own larger-than-life dad, and his experiences raising two daughters with his wife, Melissa McCarthy.

Dad is Fat

Hilarious musings on his mistakes and victories navigating parenthood from comedian (and father of five) Jim Gaffigan.

Fun Home

It wasn’t until college that Alison Bechdel, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve. A bestselling graphic memoir and the basis for the Tony-winning musical.

Anne of Green Gables

When the Cuthberts send to an orphanage for a boy to help them at Green Gables, their farm in Canada, they are astonished when a talkative little girl with bright red hair steps off the train. Matthew Cuthbert is another timeless literary father figure. *Weeps*

King Lear

Parents usually know when their kids are lying their butts off, so Lear probably could’ve avoided a whole lot of drama if he’d approached the whole “inheritance” thing a little differently. But then, it wouldn’t have made as good of a story!