As the old saying goes, “Show me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are.” It strikes a nerve because our friendships have a surprisingly outsized influence on our lives. We love books like these that celebrate all friendships — the easy, the difficult, and the unexpected.
Books that Celebrate Friendship
Friends are family you choose.
By Jessica Dukes
When Harry Met Minnie
By Martha Teichner
When you get a dog, you also get a community of fellow dog lovers. It’s kind of a package deal. In this beautiful memoir, Martha Teichner runs into an old dog-run acquaintance who is helping to rehome a friend’s bull terrier. Martha decides to give the dog, Harry, a chance, after learning that his owner, Carol, is dying of cancer. What’s meant to be a generous but simple dog adoption turns into something much more profound. Martha’s dog, Minnie (also a bull terrier), and Harry become instant friends. And at a moment in their lives when they need it the most, so do Martha and Carol.
Miss Benson's Beetle
By Rachel Joyce
Many think Margery has lost her senses when she quits her low-paying job in London and heads for New Caledonia, a small South Pacific island. This is no premature retirement though; she’s on the hunt for a rare beetle — so rare, many doubt it exists. To prove that she’s serious, she advertises for an assistant and hires Enid, her boisterous opposite. Whether or not they find Margery’s beetle, the friendship they find is the real treasure.
Waiting for the Night Song
By Julie Carrick Dalton
Cadie is surprised to hear from her childhood best friend Daniela. They share a horrible secret, one that’s about to be exposed. Back in her hometown, racial tensions are boiling, a wildfire is on its way, and Cadie is at a crossroads. How far will she go to protect Daniela after all these years? How much of her life, and the lives of the people she loves, is she willing to give up to finally live in the truth?
What Are You Going Through
By Sigrid Nunez
The unnamed narrator is a good listener, and the people she has met over the years like to unburden themselves when they’re with her. Ex-lovers, strangers, friends — they all lean on her, whether they realize it or not. But now, this one-way street is about to become a two-way street, and the narrator’s life, and her relationships, will be changed forever.
By Roddy Doyle
Old friends have the best stories, and for Joe and Davy, they all come out during one fateful summer night in Dublin’s pubs. Joe’s secret: He’s newly separated, starting a new life with a woman Davy loved 40 years ago. Davy’s secret: The real reason he left Ireland. Story by story, pint by pint, the mysteries of the past are explained. What remains, astonishingly, is love.
By Lynn Steger Strong
Elizabeth’s life in New York City is crumbling. Despite years of hard work, she and her husband are officially bankrupt. On a whim, she reaches out to Sasha, a childhood friend, only to learn that Sasha is grappling with her own disasters. And yet, as tragedies often predict, the two women are reunited through their struggles as they decide, once and for all, what they really want.
The End of the Day
By Bill Clegg
Three lives are upended in a single day when 60 years of secrets come crashing into the light. Past meets present when friends and family reconnect through phone calls and unexpected meetings. As they discover the many ways their lives are entangled, they come to realize how every choice — no matter how well-considered or impulsive — led them to this one significant day.
A Single Thread
By Tracey Chevalier
With the Great War over, Violet is determined to be more than a spinster and a caretaker to her aging mother. She leaves home and moves to Winchester, finding friendship among the women dedicated to the traditional craft of embroidering kneelers for the cathedral. Years of relative peace and happiness are shattered with news of another war, and Violet and her friends are once again faced with the question: What kind of life do you want?
The Big Finish
By Brooke Fossey
Duffy is this close to getting kicked out of his comfortable assisted living home when trouble (a.k.a. Josie) climbs through his window one night. Josie is his roommate’s granddaughter. She’s drunk, bruised, and needs to get out of town. Never one to reject an adventure, Duffy volunteers and the two unlikely friends hitchhike and bar-hop their way toward a different, and hopefully better, life.
Rules for Visiting
By Jessica Francis Kane
May Attaway would rather spend her days with plants than people. Scientifically, she realizes that this might not be the healthiest behavior, so she creates a method for how to be a good friend. Step 1: Take time off work. Step 2: Contact old friends. Step 3: Spend time with them. In observing her friends’ lives, she finally takes the opportunity to re-evaluate her own, and the conclusive results are beautiful.
Girls Burn Brighter
By Shobha Rao
Poornima and Savitha may live in relative poverty, but their friendship is a treasure to them both, as they dream of a better life beyond their village. In a violent tragedy, the two girls are separated, but Poornima can’t abandon her friend to fate. Leaving home, she faces down the worst criminals imaginable and soon finds herself across the world, in Seattle, battling to save Savitha.
By Natalie Bakopoulos
Mira returns to Athens to mourn the death of her parents when a neighbor becomes an unlikely friend. The Captain, an older man, mourns the loss of his life at sea. Through the weeks, they tell each other about their loves — of family, lovers, friends, their city. In these stories, Mira and the Captain redefine their own lives, and realize how to move forward.
By Anna North
It’s 1894, and at age 18, Ada has been married a full year with no child to show for it. With threats of being labeled a witch increasingly serious, she runs. Her refuge? The Hole in the Wall Gang, a band of outlaws and outcast women hell-bent on living by their own rules. Sure, life is exciting for a while, but this type of freedom comes with a steep cost. Can Ada afford to take the risk? More to the point: Can she afford not to?