The Book of Dads: Essays on the Joys, Perils, and Humiliations of Fatherhood offers a heartfelt guide to understanding the role of "Dad" through collected essays on the highs lows, and strange adventures of modern paternity.


After the birth of their first child, Ben George’s wife—like many new mothers—read Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions, which gave her late-night insights into being a mom. To guarantee that the other half of the parenting team would not be left in the dust, George produced this 20-author anthology. The essays here explore the contemporary dual fatherly function of working and hands-on parenting (twin responsibilities that women have been tackling for quite some time), providing comfort in this brave new world of diapers and 2 a.m. feedings. There are stories, too, on becoming an accidental parent—as in Rick Bragg’s standout piece about the unforeseen blessing of becoming a stepfather—a graphic essay (by David Gessner), and a unique woman’s perspective by Jennifer Finney Boylan. As Ben Fountain writes in “The Night Shift,” “much of life, fatherhood included, is the story of knowledge acquired too late.” Without devaluing motherhood, the authors adeptly illuminate and celebrate acquiring that knowledge in this kinetic world of ever-changing roles.

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