13 Phenomenal Books About Female Friendships

By Kaitlyn Johnston

These outstanding books about female friendship explore the many ways that women connect with and support each other.

Complex, compelling, and spanning the full spectrum of life, these outstanding books about female friendship explore the many ways that women connect with and support each other.

Colorful cityscape cover of "Humor Me: A Novel" by Cat Shook, featuring buildings, cars, and a comedy club sign.

Humor Me

By Cat Shook

Cat Shook delivers a delightful ode to friendship, love, and comedy in Humor Me. The NYC-set novel centers on Presley Fry, a twentysomething in a rut who still works as a booking assistant at a late-night TV show and whose personal life has drifted into business-casual mode. She relies on her social butterfly roommate, Isabelle, to keep her connected to the outside world. Not all joy is gone, though — Presley loves exploring New York City’s stand-up comedy scene in search of the next funny thing. Having recently lost her mother, she also strikes up a relationship with Susan Clark, her mother’s childhood best friend, who happens to be married to the head of the TV network where Presley works. As Susan takes her under her wing, Presley discovers that friendship and love can blossom in unforeseen places and that sometimes a good laugh can make all the difference.

Book cover of "Honey: A Novel" by Isabel Banta. The background is pink with two CDs placed horizontally in the middle. At the top, a quote by Emma Straub reads, "A sexy swagger of a debut." The author’s name is in white at the bottom.

Honey

By Isabel Banta

It is 1997, and Amber Young has received a life-changing call. It’s a chance thousands of girls would die for: the opportunity to join girl group Cloud9 in Los Angeles and escape her small town. She quickly finds herself in the orbits of fellow rising stars Gwen Morris, a driven singer-dancer, and Wes Kingston, a member of the biggest boy band in the world, ETA.

Surrounded by people who claim to love her but only wish to exploit her, Amber’s rich interior life is frequently reduced. Driven by a desire for recognition and success, for agency and connection, Amber comes of age at a time when the kaleidoscope of public opinion can distort everything and one mistake can shatter a career.

Listen for the Lie by Amy Tintera with GMA Seal

Listen for the Lie

By Amy Tintera

Amy Tintera hit it out of the park with Listen for the Lie, her acclaimed new thriller, which horror maestro Stephen King recommends as a “world-class whodunit.” At the center of the narrative are two women connected by friendship and tragedy. Lucy is determined to uncover the truth about her friend Savvy's murder. Except that in the aftermath of the tragedy, Lucy was found covered in Savvy’s blood, with no memory of what happened. Fast-forward a couple of years, and now there’s a popular true crime podcast investigating Savvy’s case. Drawn back to the scene of the crime, Lucy must reckon with her friendship with Savvy once and for all — even if it means discovering that she killed her best friend.

My Brilliant Friend

By Elena Ferrante

The first in a four-volume series, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante follows Lila and Elena’s lasting friendship. Against the backdrop of Naples, two 10-year-old girls meet for the first time — the vivacious Lila and the studious Elena. The first book centers on the girls’ school years, exploring how they grow and evolve alongside their changing community and build the foundation for a decades-long relationship. Vogue’s Megan O’Grady calls Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels “one of the more nuanced portraits of feminine friendship in recent memory.”

The Animators

By Kayla Rae Whitaker

Funny, authentic, and insightful, The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker is a wonderful rumination on art and female friendship. Mel and Sharon met the first week of college and have been inseparable collaborators ever since. New York City artists working in the boys’ club of animation, the two women feed off each other’s passions, relate over their working-class origins, and channel their drive into searing visual narratives. After years of effort, Mel and Sharon release their first feature-length animated film — and it’s a hit. But success is a two-sided coin, and the women find their partnership strained and their friendship tested by their newfound fame. When Sharon takes a trip back to her Kentucky hometown, she reconnects with a childhood best friend, and long-buried feelings make a reappearance as well.

Conversations with Friends

By Sally Rooney

From New York Times bestselling author Sally Rooney, Conversations with Friends introduces us to Frances, a college student in Dublin pursuing a career in writing, and her ex-girlfriend turned best friend Bobbi. At a poetry reading, the two friends meet a photographer named Melissa, who takes the young women home to meet her actor husband, Nick. As Frances and Bobbi grow closer to the more mature couple, the relationships between all four become increasingly, intimately entangled. Written with an exacting style and imbued with sneaky humor, Conversations with Friends is a sharp portrait of the complexities of female friendship and the condition of being young.

Best of Friends

By Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie’s Best of Friends tells the story of Zahra and Maryam, tracing their friendship over decades, from their childhood years in Karachi to adulthood in London. Though the pair couldn’t be more different, they’ve always been fast friends, even when an impulsive episode in their teenage years changed everything. As adults, Zahra and Maryam live successful lives in London, but when the past comes knocking and threatens their friendship, they must finally reckon with their differences if they hope to move forward together. Surprising and memorable, Best of Friends is a “captivating portrayal of two women trying to learn whether a once-treasured friendship can overcome differences” (The Washington Post).

Another Brooklyn

By Jacqueline Woodson

When August returns to Brooklyn to lay her father to rest, a chance run-in with an old friend sparks a trip down memory lane, back to when her family first moved to Brooklyn in the ’70s. Another Brooklyn by award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson follows August through her teenage years and details her profound friendship with three other girls — Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi. As youngsters, their friendship meant the world. But as the carefree days of adolescence give way to adulthood, August and her friends encounter a reality where things aren’t so optimistic. An engrossing novel, Another Brooklyn is a poetic exploration of race, friendship, and change. 

Firefly Lane

By Kristin Hannah

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah is a sweeping book about female friendship that follows two young ladies, the studious and unhip Kate and the effortlessly cool Tully, from middle school to college years to adulthood. Kate is driven by a desire for success while yearning for a simple life with a good family; Tully chases fame and the spotlight while craving unconditional love. Across the tumult of growing up, the pair stay close — but 30 years in, one betrayal might be enough to break them. Firefly Lane is “a moving and realistic portrait of a complex and enduring friendship” (Booklist).

Brown Girls

By Daphne Palasi Andreades

In the acclaimed Brown Girls, Daphne Palasi Andreades follows a group of young women of color as they come of age in Queens, New York. Bound by a shared friendship that feels eternal, Nadira, Gabby, Naz, Trish, Angelique, and countless others just like them revel in the distinct joys of growing up in the city. As they transition into adulthood, their life paths diverge: Some stay close to home, while others venture up and away from what they’ve always known. Yet their deep-rooted connection — with each other and with Queens — proves to be a formidable thing. Brimming with life and narrated by a chorus voices, Brown Girls is an exuberant portrait of female friendship, womanhood, and finding a home.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

By Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See is a sweeping historical fiction book about female friendship. In 19th-century China, women were destined to be daughters and wives and often lived in isolation. But the women in one remote area of Hunan find a way to connect — through a secret code of communication. At just 7 years old, Lily and Snow Flower become committed pen pals. Over the years that follow, the two girls grow into women, sharing their joys and sorrows by way of handkerchiefs and painted silk fans embroidered with messages. Though they are each other’s solace, a misunderstanding may shatter their bond.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

By Deesha Philyaw

In the award-winning The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Deesha Philyaw explores the inner world of church-going Black women, chronicling their hopes, heartaches, and desires. Radiating warmth and insight, the narrative introduces us to a suite of unforgettable characters, from a mother having an affair with the pastor to a teenage girl harboring a crush across the pews to childhood friends finding a reprieve from their loneliness in each other’s arms. Philyaw’s work offers a profound rumination on the intersections of faith, sexuality, and friendship, with an unmissable emphasis on the ways that women relate to each other.

Housemates

By Emma Copley Eisenberg

When Bernie went looking for a room to rent, she probably didn’t expect to develop a life-changing bond. But her relationship with Leah is exactly that. The two housemates soon find themselves enriched by a profound connection, supporting each other in their respective arts — Leah’s a writer and Bernie a photographer. When Bernie’s old professor dies and leaves her an inheritance, the two embark on a road trip with the intent of documenting America along the way. Their journey brings them face-to-face with unique people, fresh dreams, and maybe even new feelings. Housemates by Emma Copley Eisenberg is “a genuine book about art, love, friendship, chosen family, and America in this moment” (Harper’s Bazaar).

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