10 bookish gifts that every father figure will love

9 min read

With Father’s Day coming up on Sunday 20th June, we were delighted to have another excuse to select some gift ideas - this time for the beloved dads and father figures in your lives. Encompassing classic fiction, sport, history, poetry, gardening and cooking, there’s something here to suit  every reading taste. And not just something to read – as a vintage book in great condition, these volumes will be something for Dad to treasure for many years to come, and who knows – maybe start a collection.

Browse the Father's Day Collection

1) The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

The Pickwick Papers

'It wasn't the wine,' murmured Mr. Snodgrass, in a broken voice. 'It was the salmon.' (Somehow or other, it never is the wine, in these cases.) 

This comic masterpiece, written by one of history’s most widely read authors, is a must for any father’s library collection. The novel, which was Dickens’ debut, was first published in monthly parts from 1836 to 1837 asThe Posthumous Papers of The Pickwick Club, Containing a Faithful Record of the Perambulations, Perils, Travels, Adventures and Sporting Transactions of the Corresponding Members. The reader follows the exploits of Samuel Pickwick and his three fellow Pickwick club members; Tracy Tupman, Augustus Snodgrass and Nathaniel Winkle. The overarching flavour of the book is comedy and farce, however some of the situations the club members find themselves in begin to explore Dickens’ later themes of social injustice, corrupt elections, dysfunctional legal practices and imprisonment.

                                                                       No vintage home library should be without at least one work from the master story-teller, and                                                                               what father figure doesn’t enjoy a good giggle? 

                                                                       Find vintage copies of books by Charles Dickens

2) Illustrated Champagne Golf by Tony Lema (1966)

The Illustrated Champagne Golf

"There's nothing like ending a nice day on a good game of golf with a little taste of the bubbly”

One of golf’s great characters, Tony Lema or ‘Champagne Tony’, won the 1964 Open Championship at The Old Course at St Andrews in Scotland, five strokes clear of rival golfing legend Jack Nicklaus. He died just two years later in an aircraft accident, aged only 32. Before teeing up on the first round, Lema had only played nine practice holes. Named ‘Champagne Tony’ for his raucous lifestyle and promises to buy the press corps champagne if he won, Lema was second only to Arnold Palmer in golf fan popularity.

With the 2021 Open Championship teeing off at Royal St Georges in Kent in July, fathers who play or watch golf will be thrilled with this tribute to one of their sporting heroes. 

                                                                        Discover vintage sport books

3) Other Men’s Flowers (1960) – selected by Field Marshall A. P. Wavell

Other Men's Flowers

This vintage Penguin Poets copy of Field Marshall Wavell’s (1883 – 1950) famous anthology of English poetry, first published in 1944 during the darkest days of the war, has delighted many thousands of poetry lovers for over sixty years. Seldom out of print ever since, this collection proves that whatever the fashion of the day, poetry can fulfil its ancient function of finding its way to the heart. 

Wounded in battle at Ypres and having lost the sight in one eye, Wavell’s was given the Middle East Command in 1939 and went on to defeat a far larger Italian army. After four years as Viceroy of India, in the last years of his life, he became president of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Kipling, Browning, Poetry and Virgil Societies. Wavell claimed that in his younger years, he could have recited by heart all the book’s 260 poems.

                                                                       This beautifully designed copy by Penguin would be a treasured gift for any father who loves                                                                               their poetry. 

                                                                        Explore Penguin Poetry books

4) Wing Leader by ‘Johnnie’ Johnson (1956)

Wing Leader

This is the gripping biography of the ‘Ace’ British fighter pilot of World War II 'Johnnie' Johnson, who served with Fighter Command squadrons throughout the war, scoring his 38th and final victory in September 1944. From the moment the author joins his first operational Spitfire squadron in August 1940, the reader is taken on a heroic journey through the great aerial fighter actions of the war; the Battle of Britain, sweeps across the Channel and over France, Dieppe and Normandy, and finally operations across the Rhine and into Germany itself.

As the men and women of the Second World War generation disappear, this vintage book will be a timeless reminder of their bravery and sacrifice, and a must for anyone interested in the history of war and the Royal Air Force. 

Shop vintage history books

5) Goldfinger by Ian Fleming


“James Bond, with two double bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami Airport and thought about life and death.”

Everyone’s Dad likes to think he could have been James Bond; the looks, the easy charm, the subtle wit, the way with the ladies. Most of all, your Dad would probably appreciate one of Bond’s gadgets, but why not buy him one of Ian Fleming’s vintage thrillers instead of an Aston Martin?

First published in 1959,Goldfinger is theseventh in the series of Bond novels (and third in the series of films). In this book, the famous spy discovers that Soviet agent Auric Goldfinger has plans to steal the US gold reserves from Fort Knox. Introducing the unforgettable characters of Pussy Galore and OddJob, Fleming (1908-64) wroteGoldfingerat his Jamaican residence ‘Goldeneye’ using a gold-tipped ballpoint pen. The author also commissioned the construction                                                                           of a gold-plated typewriter although he never actually used it.

                                                                       Browse the Ian Fleming collection 

6) Roses by F. Fairbrother (A Penguin handbook, 1958)


“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

With a collection of vintage gardening books your father can follow Cicero’s excellent advice and enjoy both a garden and library. The timeless quality of roses in the garden are a sensual delight and this Penguin handbook, published in conjunction with the Royal Horticultural Society in 1958, is full of expert advice on their propagation and care. From hybrid teas, floribundas, shrub roses, climbers, ramblers and miniatures, there’s a lot to learn about our national flower.  So why not start Dad off with this beautiful specimen, written by the expert of his day F. Fairbrother? 

View our vintage gardening and nature collection



7) Tortilla Flat (1935) and Cannery Row (1945) by John Steinbeck 

Tortilla Flat

“It is the hour of pearl—the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself.” 

Based loosely on Steinbeck’s (1902-68) own background (he studied marine biology at Stanford university) Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row recount the uproarious exploits of ‘Doc’ the  marine biologist and the dipsomaniac, homelesspaisanosin Monterey, California. Both books concentrate on the larger-than-life hobo characters, their itinerant lives, and how they play the cards they’ve been dealt, in a series of often hilarious, but sometimes tragic, vignettes(rather than any linear plot).

BothTortilla FlatandCannery Row are available to buy for a Father’s Day gift from Country House Library’s comprehensive stock of vintage Steinbeck work.

                                                                       Find vintage copies of John Steinbeck books

8) Cooking with Wine by Robin McDouall (1968)

Cooking with Wine

Most fathers consider themselves to be a dab hand in the kitchen and who doesn’t like cooking with wine? You may have to explain that this vintage cookbook contains recipes using wine as an ingredient rather than in a glass next to the chopping board!

Arguably ahead of its time with its roots firmly in French cuisine, there are easy-to-follow instructions for such delights as prune mousse, ragout de boeuf bordelaise (beef casserole with red wine), civet de chevreuil (venison stew with Côtes du Rhone) and violet soufflé. Recipes with beer, cider, rum, sherry and calvados also feature in this hardback compendium by this prolific cookery writer of the 60’s and 70’s.

Explore County House Library’s larder of delicious cookbooksand who knows, Father might even cook your supper!

                                                                        Explore vintage cookery books

9) The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler 

The Big Sleep

“Neither of the two people in the room paid any attention to the way I came in, although only one of them was dead.” 

Born in Chicago and brought up in England, Chandler worked as a journalist and businessman before starting to write fiction at the age of 45.The Big Sleep(1939) first introduced his most famous character, the disillusioned but chivalric private detective Philip Marlowe. In 1945, the book was adapted for Hollywood treatment, starring Humphrey Bogart as the quintessential Marlowe (speaking in the first person) and Lauren Bacall in the female lead as Vivien Rutledge. All but one of Chandler’s eight novels made it to the big screen and he’s credited with an immense stylistic influence on American literature.  

Country House Library holds a selection of vintage Chandler published by Penguin - literary and                                                                         urbane detective stories for a special Father’s Day gift.

                                                                       Shop vintage Penguin crime and mystery

10) The Great Centuries of Painting: The 17th Century

The Great Centuries of Painting

For the art connoisseur Dads, this vintage hardcover book of great artists from Carvaggio to Vermeer, Rembrandt to Velasquez, is brim-full with colour reproductions and explanations of personal and historical context. Published by Skira in 1951 as part of their series of art through the centuries, this book sets out the Western European development of painting in France, Spain, Italy and the Low Countries, charting theparallel developments and discoveries in art which 'built up' new worlds of visual experience.

This and similar books of great art from the Country House Library collection, make a stunning addition to any vintage home library collection – books which will be studied and enjoyed time after time. We might even say that these are Father’s Day gift masterpieces! 

Take a look at the art and photography collection 

In summary

Special occasions such as Father’s Day are opportune times to show our loved ones how much we care by finding a gift that ‘fits’. What better way to treat your fabulous father figure than with a carefully chosen vintage book? Country House Library boasts a vast selection of interests and genres with something to please even the most difficult of Dads to buy for. Fiction to football, poems to peonies - leave it to us to provide that perfect prezzie.

Shop the Father's Day Collection

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