As fathers, especially dads with young kids, most of the reading we do is to our kids. Reading for ourselves? Who has the time? We get it, fatherhood itself can get exhausting and it can feel difficult to justify spending a few hours of our time on a book that may not even deliver on its promises. But that doesn’t change the fact that reading is the greatest shortcut to self-improvement and the fastest way to learn (and to avoid painful errors). There’s a reason Harry Truman said “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” With that in mind, we asked nine interesting dads–leaders all of them–for the books they think all dads should read. Some are fiction, some are unexpected, but all will hopefully make you a better dad and more competent at guiding your kids. They need it.
Michael Lombardi- NFL Executive, author of Gridiron Genius, and co-founder of The Daily Coach
Losing Mum and Pop by Christopher Buckley. It tells the tale of how Buckley feels like an orphan after losing both parents within one year. In his sixties, he still longs to have parents which indicates the profound effect parents have on their children. It allows us to view life backwards to helps us love forward.
Marc Ecko: Founder of Ecko Unlimited and Complex Magazine. Also a board member at XQ Super School
Michael Bradley’s “Crazy-Stressed: Saving Today’s Overwhelmed Teens with Love, Laughter, and the Science of Resilience”. He does a great job explaining the physiology and psychology of a teenager. Really helped me.
Another great one is M. Scott Peck’s “People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil”. Also a powerful read, as even loving parents can have horrible blind spots if they aren’t sensitive to how their kids perceive them.
Blake Masters-C.O.O. of Thiel Capital, co-author of Zero to One, and Co-founder of Spar
“All fathers should read “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. I first read it before becoming a dad, in my mid-20s or so. It was moving then, but nothing like the hours-long gut punch I felt upon re-reading it after my first son was born. Now that my boys are getting older — soon nearing the age of the boy in the book, who travels through a post-apocalyptic wasteland with his father — I am not sure if I could get through another reading today. It really makes dads think about how they would do anything to protect their kids, and what that really means.”
Byrd Leavell: Head of Publishing at United Talent Agency
Any great novel that teaches you empathy and reminds you how truly life-defining the connection between a parent and their child is.
Jordan Harbinger: Podcaster, The Jordan Harbinger Show
Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook For New Dads by Gary Greenberg
Shane Parrish: Cybersecurity expert and founder of Farnam Street. Also host of The Knowledge Project
Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi. It’s required reading.
Aside from that classic, while there are dozens of books that I’ve read that have made me a more conscientious and thoughtful father, I think the books that have had the most impact on my relationship with my sons have been books that I’ve read with them. Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, or The 39 Clues series, just to name a few. They’ve given me a peek into my boys’ world that have resulted in some incredible conversations.
Steve Gera: Former NFL Coach and Co-founder Gains Group
Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss – tips on negotiating from an FBI agent. Reconfigure some of these to speaking with a child and it can be a lifesaver.
Brian Levenson: Mental performance and executive coach. Also host of the Intentional Performers podcast
Madison Wickham: Founder, TFM Media Group
Jocko Willink’s book series ‘The Way Of The Warrior Kid’ is a great set of books to read to your kids (~5+ years old). The stories and characters are entertaining, and they are jam packed with excellent lessons about self-reliance, hard work, and discipline.
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