TBF Book Picks: Dad Reads Edition

What do you call reading a book for the second time?

A book re-view.

Let’s hear it for fathers! We all know Dad Jokes are a celebrated genre unto themselves, and Dad Sneakers have (somehow) found their way to the cutting edge of fashion recently, but we’d like to put forth our sort of fatherly favorite: Dad Reads. A dad read is exactly what it sounds like: whether fiction, nonfiction, comedy, sci-fi, memoir, comic book, or how-to, any book a dad could and would read counts!

In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, we asked some dads in the TBF community to recommend their own Dad Read—check out their picks below.


Brian Sweany, member of TBF Board of Directors
A Political Education: A Washington Memoir – Harry McPherson
Don’t let the publication date fool you—though written in 1972 by proud Tyler native Harry McPherson, this writerly memoir of his political life as staffer and counselor to Lyndon B. Johnson is fresh and lively. The richness comes from McPherson’s unfailingly honest insights about how political power really works, in ways that can be both inspiring and deflating. I love to underline as I read, and I’ve marked nearly every page to highlight a witty line or a wise comment that proves why so many people rank this as one of the best political memoirs ever written.


Hopeton Hay, TBF community partner and host of KAZI Book Review
Faith and Struggle In the Lives of Four African Americans – Randal Maurice Jelks
In Faith and Struggle In the Lives of Four African Americans, author Randal Maurice Jelks chronicles the religious journeys of four prominent Americans from the 20th century: Ethel Waters, a jazz, blues, and gospel singer and actress whose career spanned 1917-1977; Mary Lou Williams, a jazz pianist, arranger, and composer, who performed from 1920-1980; Eldridge Cleaver, a political activist in the 1960s and 70s, and an early leader of the Black Panther Party; and former world boxing champion Muhammad Ali. The book is a fascinating look at how their religious beliefs evolved, informed, and influenced their personal and professional lives. Jelks is a professor of history at the University of Kansas and a former Presbyterian clergyman.

Alejandro Ruelas, spouse of TBF Board of Directors member
Letters to Children – C.S. Lewis
This book is a compilation of letters that C.S. Lewis wrote in response to fan letters from young readers of The Chronicles of Narnia series. He believed that it was his duty to answer all of them and did so with great care and attention to detail.
The letters are lessons on the power of the written word. With these notes, C.S. Lewis didn’t just offer children nuggets of his wisdom, but also spread love, appreciation, and respect in ways that surely touched all who received them for the rest of their lives. I found the book inspiring and a personal invitation to reconnect with my own pen. As a nice bonus, the book also provides a short sketch of C.S. Lewis’s childhood, giving the reader insight into the experiences that fed his imagination.

Ken Cho, member of TBF Board of Directors
The Snow Hunters – Paul Yoon
What do Bill Belichick, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Herb Kelleher, and I all have in common? We all went to Wesleyan University. Wesleyan alums are like the Canadians of college — as Canadians like point out other famous Canadians like Ellen Page, Michael J. Fox, or Ryan Gosling, we like to point out each other. Well, Paul Yoon, the award-winning author The Mountain, Snow Hunters, and Once the Shore, is another Wes alum. His 2013 novel, Snow Hunters, follows the adventures of Yohan, a North Korean POW, who leaves his war-ravaged home country at the end of the Korean War to find a new life in Brazil. Snow Hunters encapsulates universal themes such as adventure, love and rebirth — what else could you want in a novel?
(Last fun fact: Yoon is not only a fellow Korean-American Wesleyan alum, but he  married a Laura, just as I did.)

Adam Loewy, TBF Sponsor and spouse of Board of Advisors member

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
This is such a remarkably layered novel about the intersection of several lives in middle America. I tend to prefer nonfiction, but I simply couldn’t put this down. I was so excited to see Celeste speak at the Texas Book Festival Literary Gala last year!



Emmet Campos, TBF Community Ambassador and Partner
East Of The Freeway: Reflections De Mi Pueblo – Raúl Salinas

East of the Freeway is a powerful collection of poems written by Raúl Salinas, Chicanx poet, local East Austin community activist, and founder of Resistencia Bookstore and Casa de Red Salmon Arts Press. He was an inspiration and mentor for me and hundreds of fellow graduate students at UT and elsewhere, and demonstrated in practice how to merge scholarship and activism, arts and social justice struggle. When I first read Un Trip thru the Mind Jail, written by Salinas at the height of the 1960’s-70’s Chicana/o social movement, in my first Chicana Lit class at UW Madison, I was blown away by this signature poem. It resonated powerfully with me and other students who had never read poetry or literature written by our own community, inspiring us to tell our story, in our own words.


Darryl Tocker, TBF Treasurer and member of Board of Directors
Endurance – Scott Kelly

An interesting look at Astronaut Scott Kelly’s year-long assignment in the International Space Station and his career path to get there. Every chapter makes me reflect on how comfortable my life is.
Next up, I’m planning to read Bitcoin Billionaires by Ben Mezrich.  The author of The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal (adapted into the film The Social Network) and Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions (adapted into the film 21).  Mezrich turns his attention to Bitcoin and finds the Winklevoss twins.