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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

19 Books About Friendship to Share with Your Bestie

You won't be able to put down these books about friendship that explore the unbreakable bond we all need in our lives

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19 Books About Friendship Ftvia merchant (8)

The best books about friendship

Whether it’s Pooh and Piglet or Sherlock and Watson, great friendships abound in literature. And it’s not just a protagonist’s besties who are fascinating—it’s also their sidekicks, roommates, partners in crime and even frenemies who lure us into the story and give us a better understanding of relationships and life. That’s true for all the best books about friendship, whether they’re our favorite children’s books, addictive new beach reads, sweeping historical fiction books, insightful books by female authors or sci-fi thrillers.

We’ve rounded up our favorite books about friendship that will evoke a wide range of emotions, from making you feel all warm, fuzzy and nostalgic to angry about your own unresolved beefs. On this list, you’ll find classics that have stood the test of time, as well as recent bestsellers and debut books by new authors you’ll fall in love with. And speaking of which, you’ll find a few romance novels here, but the love stories are secondary to the incredible bonds between friends—kindred spirits who help each other see the truth, get through the hard times and share some laughs along the way.

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Wahala by Nikki Mayvia merchant

1. Wahala by Nikki May

Wahala means “trouble” in the African language Yoruba, and it’s a theme that emerges for three Anglo-Nigerian women living in London in one of the best new books about friendship. Like many of the best fiction books of 2022, Wahala offers a fresh take on contemporary relationships. Author Nikki May serves up plenty of frenemy drama spiked with humor in her debut novel about longtime friends whose worlds unravel when a glamorous fourth woman enters their group and their bonds are shaken and tested.

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A Little Life by Hanya Yanagiharavia merchant

2. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

One of the most acclaimed books about friendship, 2015’s A Little Life is a sprawling yet intimate novel. It focuses on the bonds between four college friends and the challenges and successes that arise across decades as they cope with the addiction and anguish of one member of the group. Centering on friendships between men, this long and beautifully written LGBTQ+ book offers a sensitive take on the queer experience. And it pulls on your heartstrings as it follows Jude, who suffers from chronic pain with unbearably traumatic origins.

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Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeymanvia merchant

3. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor, a 29-year-old office worker with no social life, becomes obsessed with a local rock star she’s never met. At the same time, she forms an unlikely friendship with a coworker, Raymond, after the two help out an elderly man in need. Even as it deals with themes of loneliness and trauma, this popular 2017 novel moves along with wit and humor, revealing the tragic past haunting a woman who simply needs friendship to make it through. And while it may be a far cry from intense thriller books that keep you on the edge of your seat, it’s still a page-turner that you won’t be able to put down.

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My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrantevia merchant

4. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

If you love feminist books with rich, truthful depictions of women’s experiences, you’ll adore this 2011 bestseller. The first in a four-book series that follows the 60-year friendship between Elena and Lila, it opens with Elena learning that Lila has disappeared. This event prompts Elena to recount their meeting, burgeoning friendship and upbringing in a rough area of Italy in the 1950s. The popular novels have since been adapted into an acclaimed TV series on HBO.

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Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedmanvia merchant

5. Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

Written by the hosts of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, this 2020 nonfiction book chronicles the authors’ decades-long friendship in a witty, humorous way. Sow and Friedman write about their own challenges, alienations and personal stories in Big Friendship while weaving in studies on friendships, one of life’s most important yet most neglected bonds. This thoroughly enjoyable book not only highlights the vital importance of friendship but will also show you how to give your friendships more support even when life gets busy.

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Us Three by Ruth Jonesvia merchant

6. Us Three by Ruth Jones

Hang out with Caitrin, Lana and Judith, three best friends since childhood, in one of the great recent funny books, first published in 2020. Despite their promise to remain friends no matter what, the three find themselves estranged as they cope with life’s inevitable ups and downs, and readers follow their conflicts and reconciliations across decades. This breezy page turner has surprising depth, pulling you in with the story of their friendship and keeping you hooked with plot twists that alternately make you laugh and cry.

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fanvia merchant

7. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Set in 19th-century China, this lyrical and emotional novel published in 2005 explores the friendship of Lily and Snow Flower. The beautiful but sad book starts when they’re girls and continues through adulthood, showing them endure the trials of foot-binding and arranged marriages in a society that encases and silences women. The two communicate through a secret language written on fans and hidden from men and others who would oppress them. Their strong bond provides a solace that allows them each to survive.

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Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomasvia merchant

8. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

One of the best books by Hispanic authors, this 2020 paranormal YA fantasy dives into the rich tapestry of queer Latinx culture, family bonds and friendships. It follows Yadriel, a trans boy who tries to help the ghost of his cousin but instead summons the wrong entity. Though this is a teen romance and coming-of age story, Cemetery Boys is a well-rounded book that explores all relationships—including familial bonds and platonic friendship—as Yadriel learns to be a brujo, someone who helps spirits pass to the afterlife.

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Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomeryvia merchant

9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

One of the most beloved classic books, Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908, and it’s still a must-read. It follows the spunky orphan Anne, who is said to have a “genius” for friendship. When she’s finally delivered to a foster home, the caretakers almost send her back—they’d asked for a boy to help with chores. But Anne stays and slowly wins over everyone with her cheer and charisma. When she meets Diana, they develop that inseparable bond that signals you’ve finally found your bestie. You won’t want the book to end when you get to the final page, and the good news is that it doesn’t have to—there are seven more in the series to read after this one.

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A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseinivia merchant

10. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini’s beautifully written 2007 bestseller tells the story of two women, Mariam and Laila, who live through war and unfathomable loss in Afghanistan. Though they are a generation apart, with different backgrounds, their friendship endures, and their indomitable spirits survive even amid shattering circumstances. Prepare for a harrowing and heart-rending read about familial love and self-sacrifice. The title, by the way, refers to the hope that springs even within oppression.

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Weinvia merchant

11. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This 2012 page turner gives a harrowing account of a young woman captured by Nazis during World War II and forced to reveal secrets or face execution. Her story uncovers the friendship she had with Maddie, the pilot she was flying with, when their plane crashed in Nazi-occupied France. Like other World War II novels and Holocaust books, Code Name offers a searing, emotional depiction of an unthinkable time in history.

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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brasharesvia merchant

12. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

In one of the most iconic books about friendship, Lena, Tibby, Bridget and Carmen find a pair of jeans that fits each of them perfectly, despite their different body shapes. Start with the first novel from 2001 and continue with the whole series about four friends, the powerful bond between them, and their adventures in love and life. The girls form a pact and decide to share the jeans. They’ll each take them for a stint as they embark on separate journeys for the summer.

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Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Shaefervia merchant

13. Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaefer

This 2019 nonfiction book about friendship is perfect for readers who like memoirs. Schaefer weaves in her own experiences with friendships as she presents research on the topic. Text Me When You Get Home challenges notions about women’s competitiveness and offers a panacea around friendship, describing it as a bond of love that’s just as important as a romantic relationship, even though it’s devalued in society.

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Legendborn by Tracy Deonnvia merchant

14. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

This 2020 YA fantasy novel quickly rose on the bestseller chart, enrapturing teen and adult readers with its innovative reworking of the King Arthur tale for a modern audience. You’ll be taken in by 16-year-old Bree, a Black girl who finds herself at odds with her best friend after she witnesses a paranormal event that unleashes her own magic. Soon, she finds herself in a new group, the Legendborn, a historically all-White secret society, as she navigates their connections to her mother’s death. Who can she trust? Like many books by Black authors, Legendborn fuses the rich history of Black culture with honest depictions of racism in America.

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Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flaggvia merchant

15. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

One of the most beloved books about friendship, Fried Green Tomatoes focuses on two parallel tales that show how extraordinary female bonds bring strength and transformation. Evelyn is caught in a midlife slump when Mrs. Threadgoode tells her the enthralling story of Idgie and Ruth, who are eking it out in 1930s Alabama. Fannie Flagg’s acclaimed novel about survival, friendship and the power of connections between women was also adapted into a 1991 Oscar-nominated movie starring Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy. Here are more of our favorite book-to-movie adaptations across all genres.

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You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithanvia merchant

16. You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

Writers Nina LaCour and David Levithan developed a friendship as they co-wrote this 2017 teen book about friendship and love, sending chapters back and forth as the story emerged. The novel proceeds from the alternate perspectives of Mark and Kate, who are each in love with other people but rely on each other as they grow and change while navigating high school. It’s a sensitive, funny and moving look at queer experience geared toward young adult readers, but like many YA novels, there’s plenty that adults will also find endearing and relatable.

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The Color Purple by Alice Walkervia merchant

17. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Alice Walker’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, which depicts the bonds between Black women and girls, will keep you completely riveted. In The Color Purple, you’ll follow Celie and her relationships with Shug and Nettie as they navigate love and life in the harsh oppression of rural Georgia in the early 1900s. Through it all, their extraordinary friendships pull them through. This is a canonical work in Black American literature, and it has become a cultural touchstone, with an award-winning film starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey and a Broadway musical adaptation.

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Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wellsvia merchant

18. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

This 1996 bestseller is one of those mother-daughter books you’ll want to pass onto every woman you know when you’re done. Readers love Rebecca Wells’s story about the mighty power of female friendships—especially when they’re bent on conspiring together. Set amid the charm and color of Southern life, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood follows a mother-daughter feud that friends are determined to heal with humor, uncovered secrets and dollops of grace and grit.

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Sister Friends Forever. by Kimberla Lawson Robyvia merchant

19. Sister Friends Forever by Kimberla Lawson Roby

The best girlfriends are sometimes more like family. That’s the case for Serena, Michelle, Kenya and Lynette, who have been best friends since childhood. While they’ve been through their fair share of ups and downs, they’re now all at a true crisis point in their romantic lives, and their friendships will be put to the test. This brand-new book from New York Times bestselling author Kimberla Lawson Roby will tug at your heartstrings—and make you stay up way too late reading so you can find out what happens to each of them. Suggest this book about friendship to your book club, and check out these book club questions to get the conversation started.

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Molly Pennington, PhD
Molly is a writer and collage artist with a PhD in film and cultural studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Her professional astrology services and artwork are available at Baroque Moon Astrology. She covers the zodiac, books, movies, TV and culture for Reader’s Digest, and loves to talk about all the ways we make meaning.