Celebrate the friends who have shaped your life with these outstandingly enjoyable books about friendship.
They say a good book is a good friend, but even better is reading a book about best friends.
Good friends can lift us up when we’re down, push us to be better than we thought we could, and shape our lives in a myriad of ways. In these books about friendship, you’ll see for yourself how intimate companionship can change lives for both good and ill.
Although my list of the best books about friendship is geared toward adults, with plenty of books about female friendship, you’ll also find some young adult and children’s picks among my choices.
Go ahead and scroll through the list. I’m positive you’ll find something great for your next book club night.
Books About Friendship for Adults
A Man Called Ove
Ove, a cantankerous old Swede, just wants to be left in peace so he can commit suicide, but his pesky neighbors keep getting in the way. This heartwarming and hilarious tale is a popular book club choice for books about friendship. Highlighting our need for connection in the modern world, A Man Called Ove typifies how important it is to leave our digital worlds and make sure we check in on our neighbors.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
On a bitterly cold day, Sam Masur runs into Sadie Green on a train platform and they renew their childhood friendship bonding over video games. Together, they create Ichigo, a blockbuster game that changes their lives. Over the next three decades, their friendship is tested as their success leads them to money, fame, love, and betrayal. More a heartrending story about friendship than video games, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is an unputdownable read with complex character development that easily earns it a place among the best books about friendship.
The Kite Runner
An unforgettable story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner beautifully describes love, friendship, betrayal, and redemption. Be warned that the novel is violent and graphic at times, so understand that while moving, the story is dark and disturbing. It’s that contrast between the worst of human nature and the best that truly brings out a remarkable tale that will stay with you for a long time.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Socially awkward Eleanor Oliphant has the habit of saying exactly what she thinks and much prefers to spend her weekends at home talking on the phone to her mother. When Eleanor and her slovenly coworker Raymond help an elderly gentleman after a fall, they become friends and Eleanor learns that opening up isn’t always a bad thing.
After a childhood of being ignored by his family, William Waters finds refuge playing basketball in college. When William meets Julia Padavano, a lively girl extremely close to her parents and three sisters, he quickly becomes a part of the close-knit Padavano family. Although cracks start to appear in the family, William never imagined he’d be the wedge to drive them apart. A homage to Little Women, Hello Beautiful gorgeously describes family and sisterhood, mental health, and forgiveness, in such a way that you will never forget this story.
The Authenticity Project
Septuagenarian Julian Jessop feels like the world lacks authenticity. So he writes his deepest truths in a notebook which then gets passed along from stranger to stranger adding their own truths. Along the way, they will find connections they didn’t realize they were missing. With a light love story and a few fun surprises, Pooley has penned the perfect little cozy read about friendship.
In Five Years
Lawyer Dannie Cohan knows exactly where she’ll be in five years – until the night of her engagement. In her post-engagement bliss, she has a vision of herself in five years engaged to someone else. She doesn’t think much of it, until years later when she finds he is dating her best friend. While the premise sounds light-hearted, partway through the story, beach read goes out the window and thought-provoking steps in. You’ll feel compelled to know if the vision came true and surprised at how well Serle counters your expectations.
A Little Life
Four classmates from a small Massachusetts college all find themselves in New York City trying to make their way in life: wannabe actor Willem, aspiring painter JB, entry-level architect Malcolm, and Jude who holds them all together. Over the decades, their friendships deepen but also darken – fighting addiction, coping with trauma, and balancing ambition and success.
Project Hail Mary
In a last-ditch effort to save Earth from an extinction-level event, a group of astronauts is sent on a desperate mission in a cobbled-together spacecraft. But when Ryland Grace wakes up, he has no memory of his mission or why the rest of the crew is dead. The sole survivor, he must take on an impossible task with the help of an alien spider, in this interesting science fiction book about friendship.
Books About Female Friendship
In 1974, Kate Mularkey becomes best friends with the cool new girl at school, Tully Hart. As Tully becomes a celebrity news anchor and Kate chooses to be a stay-at-home mom, their friendship full of love, jealousy, anger, and laughter will shape their lives over the next three decades. You’ll love the dynamics of the relationship between Kate and Tully, watching them renegotiate their friendship and struggle with their codependency as they each grew in different directions.
Girls Burn Brighter
Shobha Rao’s debut novel chronicles the lives of two Indian girls. Girls Burn Brighter tackles many of the pressing topics facing women today: domestic abuse, human tracking, immigration, and women’s rights. Poornima finds a kindred soul in Savitha, one of her father’s new employees. Yet, when an act of violence sends Savitha away, Poornima will go through the underbelly of India and all the way to America to find her.
Beyond the Point
On the eve of 9/11, three women entering the U.S. Military Academy at West Point form an enduring friendship to see them through the years ahead. Dani, the star athlete determined to break barriers; Hannah, the Army brat guided by her faith; and Avery, the wild child pushing boundaries. Covering women in the military and the history of West Point as well as the post-9/11 years, Gibson’s debut novel has plenty to set it apart.
Happy & You Know It
To make ends meet, Claire accepts a job as a playgroup musician for wealthy New York City moms. As she gets to know her employers – Whitney the up-and-coming social media influencer, Amara the new stay-at-home mom, and Gwen the old-money experienced mom – Claire learns these picture-perfect moms are far from perfect and loves them more for it.
These Impossible Things
Growing up, Malak, Kees, and Jenna have always struggled to reconcile their own wants with their expectations as Muslim women. Yet, as they age, the balancing act between religion and rebellion becomes harder to manage. Malak wants the dream – the perfect blend of faith and love. Kees has fallen for a white Catholic man whom her family would never accept. Jenna’s years of partying hide a desperate loneliness. As their college years close, one night will change everything and force all three of them in different directions.
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
When Siddalee Walker describes her mother Vivi as a “tap-dancing child abuser” in an interview, Vivi disowns her. Desperate for forgiveness, Sidda postpones her wedding trying to reconnect with her mother. To help, Vivi’s friends send Sidda a scrapbook of their girlhood mementos with Vivi to allow Sidda to better understand her mother.
An unnamed narrator reflects upon her life and a childhood friendship that changed its course forever. Growing up in London, she meets Tracey in a tap dance class. Although Tracey is the more talented dancer, the narrator manages to find a career as an assistant to a world-famous pop star and her friendship with Tracey takes a turn for the worse.
Returning home for an exhibit of her art, controversial painter Elaine Risley contemplates her childhood friendships. After a life spent traveling, at age eight, Elaine discovers the joys of having girlfriends when she meets Carol and Grace. After a summer away, Elaine returns to find a new girl who has completely changed the group’s dynamics.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
In the throes of a middle-age crisis, Evelyn unexpectedly finds comfort from the elderly Mrs. Threadgoode. Mrs. Threadgoode tells her a fascinating tale of two women, Idgie and Ruth, who ran the Whistle Stop Cafe in Alabama in the 1930s – an era of hard luck, racism, small-town problems, lots of laughter and the occasional murder.
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Books About Best Friends Falling In Love
The Orphans of Race Point
Set in a Portuguese community in Massachusetts, young Hallie Costa forms a lifelong bond with Gus Silva after the murder of his mother. One of the best books about friendship and love, the story follows them through the ups and downs of their lives – examining the balance between the good and evil that lives within each of us. Patry Francis will leave you feeling hope for the future and make you reconsider the true meaning of soul mates.
Dear Emmie Blue
When she was sixteen, Emmie Blue released a balloon in England which Lucas discovers across the channel in France, leading to a lifelong friendship. When Lucas gets engaged to be married, Emmie begins to realize that you can’t leave your life up to fate. A heartwarming love story about friendship and loyalty, Dear Emmie Blue is one of my favorite summer releases from 2020. (Trigger warning: Sexual Assault.)
After successfully arranging the marriage of her governess, Emma Woodhouse sets out to expand on her matchmaking career. Immediately, her sights fall on Miss Harriet Smith, and Emma plans to find the perfect husband for her new pupil. Hijinks ensue as Emma finds matchmaking is not exactly her expertise. Along the way, Emma herself will discover love is not quite what she was expecting.
People We Meet on Vacation
Emily Henry (author of Beach Read) returns with one of the best beach reads of 2021 for romance book lovers. Poppy and Alex have been best friends forever even though she’s a wild child full of wanderlust and he’s an introverted bookworm. Although she lives in New York City and he still lives in their hometown, every year they take a week-long vacation together. Until two years ago, when their trip ended in a falling out. Now Poppy convinces Alex to take one final vacation with her in an attempt to fix their relationship … and maybe even fall in love.
Ask Again, Yes
Mary Beth Keane
NYPD cops Francis and Brian happen to move next door to each other in the suburbs. Though their children Kate and Peter become the best of friends, Francis and his wife have learned to keep their distance from Brian’s wife due to her precarious mental health. When tragedy strikes between the two families, Brian’s family moves away in shame. But when Kate and Peter fall in love, the two families must learn to confront the tragedy that ties them together.
Historical Fiction Books About Friendship
The Giver of Stars
During the Great Depression, Englishwoman Alice Wright marries a handsome American and finds herself transplanted to rural Kentucky. To escape her unhappy home life with her withdrawn husband and overbearing father-in-law, Alice agrees to become a traveling librarian, riding around the countryside bringing books to local residents. In her new job, she meets other fierce women and gains lasting friendships. Add in plenty of drama, love stories, corrupt businessmen, and even murder, and you have the perfect light historical fiction read.
Min Jin Lee
In the early 1900s, Sunja falls for a wealthy stranger in Korea. When Sunja finds she is pregnant, she learns he is married. Refusing to be his mistress, she instead marries a kind but sickly preacher. Moving to Japan, she becomes best friends with her sister-in-law, a friendship that will pull her family through hardships for generations to come.
In Red Hook, Brooklyn during the early 1900s, Sofia and Antonia are best friends and neighbors, members of “The Family,” the local Italian mafia. When Antonia’s father is disappeared, a wedge develops between the girls that will affect them as they grow older and begin to question the demands of their “family.”
Code Name Verity
One of my favorite WWII books about friendship. You’ll find yourself immersed in a world of intrigue with the story of a British spy, Agent “Verity.” Captured when her plane crashes in occupied France, Verity is interrogated by the Gestapo in an attempt to learn of her mission. As she confesses under torture, you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat wondering what secrets she is willing to exchange for her life. How far is she willing to go for her mission? A brilliant and emotional read that you won’t want to miss.
The Island of Sea Women
On the island of Jeju just off the Korean peninsula lives a society where women are the breadwinners. They are sea divers risking untold hazards to provide for their families from the ocean. Among them are best friends Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls just entering their village’s diving collective. Telling the account of their lives from the Japanese occupation in the 1930s, through World War II and the tumultuous aftermath up to the present, Lisa See’s historical fiction novel is a beautifully written account of friendship.
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Khaled Hosseini writes some of the best friendship novels, landing a second book on my list. In A Thousand Splendid Suns, Hosseini covers thirty years in Afghanistan, from the Soviet invasion to the post-Taliban years. Illegitimate child Mariam is forced to marry Rasheed, a man thirty years her elder. Stuck in a horrible marriage, Mariam’s life changes when they take in a teenage girl. Discussing family, friendship, and the struggle to survive, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a thought-provoking read.
A Prayer for Owen Meany
During a Little League baseball game, Owen Meany hits a foul ball that kills his best friend’s mother. Believing himself to be God’s instrument, Owen seeks to fulfill his own prophecy. Narrated by Owen’s best friend John Wheelwright, A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of the best books about male friendship and a beloved modern classic.
The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell
Born with red eyes, Sam Hill has been called the “Devil Boy” all his life. Reflecting on his life, Sam realizes that his childhood friendship with two other misfits – Ernie Cantwell, the only African American boy at his school, and Mickie Kennedy, a firestorm in the form of a girl – has defined and shaped his life.
When August returns home to bury her father, she runs into an old friend and begins reminiscing. Growing up in Brooklyn, August and her best friends dreamed of the big future they have ahead of them. However alongside the magical Brooklyn of their childhood lived another Brooklyn, a dark world rife with dangers for young women.
Nonfiction Books About Friendship
Truth & Beauty
In 1981, Ann Patchett met Lucy Grealy in college, and, after attending a writer’s workshop, a close friendship bloomed that would last decades. As a child, Lucy lost half her jaw to childhood cancer. Through the years of reconstructive surgery, Ann and Lucy’s bound remains strong only to be separated by Lucy’s death at a young age.
The Undoing Project
Forty years ago, Israeli psychologist Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky developed a friendship that would change how we view the world. Together, the pair wrote a series of earth-shattering papers that laid the foundation for the field of behavioral economics.
Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman
Long-time friends and podcast co-hosts Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman wrote an entire nonfiction book about friendship. Together, they reveal how their friendship has endured over the years. With hilarious honesty, the two give a rundown on how to find, keep, and sustain life-changing female friendships.
Text Me When You Get Home
A validation of female friendship, Kayleen Schaeffer discusses the millennial take on friendship. Mixing historical research, pop culture, and Schaeffer’s experiences, Text Me When You Get Home highlights that modern female friendships are making women stronger than ever.
Marley & Me
A list of books about friendship would not be complete if I didn’t mention a story about man’s best friend. John Grogan chronicles his relationship with Marley, the world’s worst dog whose antics will leave you in stitches. Even more, the love that springs up between Marley and Grogan despite Marley’s many flaws is so touching. A great reminder for you to be grateful for the love of four-legged friends in your life.
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Classic Novels About Friendship
Of Mice and Men
This memorable classic about friendship follows eternal optimists George and Lennie who share a common dream – to own some land of their own. When life leads them to work on a California ranch, they bump up against the reality that life can be extremely unfair. Steinbeck is a brilliant writer, and this story will stick with you long after you’ve read it.
A Separate Peace
During the early days of World War II, Southern boy Gene Forrester attends an elite New Hampshire boarding school. Feeling insecure among the prep school kids, quite introverted Gene eventually becomes friends with the charming athletic Phineas. But when friendly competition goes awry, the consequences last a lifetime. A thought-provoking coming-of-age novel that quickly became an American classic.
The Three Musketeers
“All for one, one for all!” cried the Three Musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. The young protagonist, Comte d’Artagnan, is determined to find glory for himself and win the hand of his lady love. As he joins the musketeers and befriends the famous three, adventure, intrigue and a whole lot of swashbuckling swordplay await in this fun long classic book about friendship.
Books About Friendship: YA Picks
The Serpent King
The son of a snake-handling preacher currently imprisoned for child pornography, Dill does not exactly fit in at school. Luckily he has his best friends Lydia, a vintage fashion blogger, and Travis, a gentle-hearted giant obsessed with fantasy books. Teaching about friendship, love, and the struggles of growing up, The Serpent King is a touching novel that will give you all the feels.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
In a series of letters, fifteen-year-old Charlie narrates his struggles to adapt to his first year in high school, especially after the suicide of his best friend from middle school and the death of his beloved aunt. He befriends two seniors, Patrick and Sam, and together they navigate a difficult year. Hitting on the tough topics of abuse and mental health, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the top YA books about friendship and gained lots of notoriety with its popular film adaptation.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Benjamin Alire Sáenz
When Aristotle meets Dante at the local swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. What blooms is a lasting friendship that will shape the course of their lives. Eventually friendship shifts to romance in this young adult novel that has scooped up plenty of awards.
The Book Thief
A book narrated by Death might be off-putting at first, but quickly you’ll fall in love with this Young Adult WWII historical fiction. In 1939, Liesel Meminger is sent to live with foster parents in Munich. There she befriends the charming neighborhood boy Rudy and settles into a life of book thievery. Coming of age during the rise of the Nazis, Liesel and Rudy must face the complications of growing up in a dictatorship they hate.
Friendship Books For Kids
This coming-of-age story of the healing power of friendship follows Cedar, a 12-year-old girl whose father and younger brother both recently died in a tragic accident. When Cedar meets the unusual Leo, they strike up a friendship that will carry her through the summer. Throw in a fun mystery at the local theatre festival, and you have a sweet story for your reading list.
E. B. White
This beloved children’s classic follows the friendship of a spider named Charlotte and a pig named Wilbur. When the farmer wants to slaughter Wilbur, Charlotte begins leaving messages in her web praising the pig in hopes of sparing his life.
Bridge to Terabithia
When a new girl dashes Jess’s hope of being the fastest runner in fifth grade, he quickly strikes up a friendship with her. Jess and Leslie end up spending most days in the woods behind her house, inventing a magical world called Terabithia. Celebrating the delights of childhood imagination, the story also shows what happens when tragedy strikes, so keep your tissues close.
Because of Winn-Dixie
The summer Opal and her father, the Preacher, move to Naomi, Florida, Opal goes into the local Winn-Dixie supermarket and comes out with a dog. Quickly, Opal (and everyone else) falls in love with the enchanting stray with a big smile. Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal breaks out of her shell, befriending both children and adults in her new hometown. Mixing deeper themes about life with charming childhood antics, Because of Winn-Dixie is a classic children’s book about friendship perfect for a read-aloud.
R. J. Palacio
If you are looking for books about friendship for your children to read, you can’t go wrong with the acclaimed novel, Wonder. This story of a boy with a severely deformed face entering public middle school for the first time will make you ponder how you react to people who look differently. This middle-grade phenomenon will be read in classrooms around America for years to come.
What are your favorite books about friendship?
Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys says
We’re on the same wave length! I’ve got a list of friendship books publishing on Thursday! Though mine is not nearly as exhaustive a list as yours – I broke mine into two parts, but there are some of the same books. I always love your lists and my TBR list is exploding, but that doesn’t keep me away! Keep up the good work!
Thank you for this! This list is amazing and now I won’t miss my friends I can’t meet up with so much anymore! (due to the coronavirus)
roberta kovach says
One of the very best books about friendship that I have ever read was The Clover Girls by Viola Shipman. I recently read it and loved it!!!!