Father’s day is on Sunday, and you know how I like to conveniently remind you of holidays by writing posts about them a few days in advance. And, since I wrote about books I read because of my mother last month, it’s only fair that my father should get the same honor for his special day. Looking over this list, I realize that my father is largely responsible for my introduction to science fiction and fantasy. Sci-fi/fantasy then served as a springboard into all the various fandoms I got into later in life. So thank you, Daddy, for setting the foundation for the geek I am today.
P.S. When my dad does something for me, he always goes all out. Like when I ask him to buy something at the store, he goes to Costco and buys three gallons of it. So most of these aren’t single books, but rather full series or large collections of a certain author’s works.
These first three are books that my dad read aloud to me as a child. I have distinct memories of our nightly routine; all curled together on the green sofa, pleading for one more chapter before bed.
- The Time Quartet by Madeleine L’Engle — This series incorporated a perfect blend of sci-fi and fantasy. In one book, for instance, there are both unicorns and time travel. This series is the reason I knew the concepts of a fifth dimension and mitochondria before third grade. Soon after my dad read them to me, I started reading these books for myself. They were the first chapter books I read after Junie B. Jones. I also remember my dad reading some of her books about the next generation, but they were not as spectacular.
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien — My dad read this to me so long ago that all of my memories of this book are from reading it myself years later, but I do remember that I heard it from his mouth first. My dad grew up reading high fantasy novels by the likes of Tolkien and Brooks and he did not hesitate to share them with me. All of my copies of the Lord of the Rings books are from his youth, with yellowed pages and brittle bindings. Somehow I think that reading the words off such a historied and well-loved copy lends even more grandeur to the epic.
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling — My dad first started reading these books to me when the fourth book came out. I was in second grade. By the time the sixth book came out, I was obsessed enough to go to a midnight release party in the city. Harry Potter was my very first fandom. I was a Harry Potter geek before any other type of geek. I’ve read the books over ten times each, yet as each new installment came out, we always read it together as a family first. Even if by the seventh book my sister and I read aloud to my dad, as he kept mispronouncing names and tiring after only one chapter.
These last two were books my father read as a young man, that he passed on to me when I was whining about being out of reading material because I read all the books in the house.
- The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks — These books are often criticized for being rip-offs of Lord of the Rings, but they helped cement the High Fantasy genre. After all, if only one series fits the name, can you really call it a genre? Even so, I myself found it to be a not-as-good version of LOTR and shoved them all into a box having read only the first book. When I have time, though, I may go back and give them a second chance. And if you are an avid reader of high fantasy and don’t mind reading books that follow a formula (after all, how can I judge when half of my supernatural romances sound exactly the same), then I can understand the appeal of this series. My dad said his favorite part of Terry Brooks’s books is all the puns. They must have gone over my head when I first read the book, because that at least would have drawn me in. My inner linguist can’t pass up a pun, no matter how trite.
- An assorted collection of works by Isaac Asimov, especially an essay collection entitled Asimov on Science: A 30 Year Retrospective and the Foundation trilogy — every genre has its classics, and you can’t talk about sci-fi, especially involving robots or artificial intelligence, without talking about Asimov. Asimov is known for establishing the Three Laws of Robotics (plus the zeroeth one), and his most famous works include I, Robot and the Foundation Trilogy. Those books were included in the pile my dad passed on to me, as were a number of his lesser known works. I actually most enjoyed the Prelude to Foundation and the collection of essays mentioned above, which I described in detail here. I’ve always been pretty up-to-date on the latest sci-fi releases from The Barcode Tattoo to everything Westerfeld, but I have my dad to thank for introducing me to its roots.
Are there any books you have your dad to thank for introducing you to? Or are you a dad who has some special books you share with your child? Let us know in the comments!