Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new question or theme is presented. This week’s prompt is:
List Your Top Ten Favorite Books About Friendship
Great question! Here are my top ten picks–some fiction, some nonfiction–in no particular order. Ready? Let’s go!
Five Fortunes is one of my favorite novels ever—it’s about a group of women of various ages who meet at a spa and then continue to build on their friendships as they go back to their “real” lives. Beth Gutcheon is one of my favorite authors for dialogue—I can usually HEAR her characters speaking their lines inside my head. This novel includes some extremely funny scenes, but also is heartwrenching in some spots. I’ve probably read this book at least five times over the years, and there’s one particular scene that brings me to tears every single time. That’s powerful writing.
I love Ann Patchett’s essays and nonfiction–I feel as though she is speaking directly to me when I read some of her work. Truth & Beauty is her somewhat controversial memoir about her rather complicated friendship with the late author Lucy Grealy. This book speaks to the idea that friendship isn’t always easy—and that you can never truly judge the relationships of others. If you read this book, you also need to read Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography Of A Face for a different perspective.
Class Reunion by the late Rona Jaffe is a sexy, FUN read about four women who meet as Radcliff freshman during the 1950s. The novel traces their college years, the twenty years following graduation, and all of the drama that ensues. Is this book great literature? No. But it’s a great summer beachbag read and you’ll most likely see a little bit of yourself in at least one of the women portrayed here. I also love novels that take place in college settings, and this is a good one for a taste of what life was like for female university students during the 1950s.
The movie Waiting To Exhale starring Whitney Houston and Angela Basset was good, but the book by Terry McMillan was SO MUCH BETTER! This novel tracks the lives of four thirty-something women and their relationships with parents, spouses, lovers, and children. I read this book for the first time when I was in the same age-bracket as the characters, and it really spoke to me. This is a great book!
The Girls From Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow is a nonfiction book covering the friendships of eleven women who grew up in the same small town in Iowa and who have continued their bond for over forty years. I am EXACTLY in the same age group as these women and all of the cultural references and attitudes are so familiar to me! This is a wonderful account of how friendships change and maintain over time. Parts of it almost read like a novel, but it’s all real. I love this book, and I’m also intrigued by the idea that a male writer was able to capture real female friendships in such a deep, realistic manner. Obviously he did a great deal to gain the trust of these women who were then confident enough to share such a wide range of feelings and experiences–some not too complimentary– with him.
All Is Vanity by Christina Schwarz tells the story of a contemporary friendship gone horribly awry-and the brilliance of the writing is that as the reader, you’re seeing exactly what’s happening, but you’re powerless to stop it. The narrative is told through alternating viewpoints and is very effective for this book. I never understood why this novel didn’t get more press or buzz when it came out about ten years ago—it’s one of my favorites.
I read Hot Flashes by Barbara Raskin when I was in my late twenties, and I loved it then even though I was at least thirty years younger than the main characters. Now that I’m directly in their demographic, I think I need to read it again. This novel is about the long-time friendship between four wildly different women who come together in their fifties for a funeral. I adored the unique narrative style of this novel, and I love the realistic way that it shows unconditional love between friends.
MWF Seeking BFF is a nonfiction narrative by Rachel Bertsche that traces her search for new friends after she moves to Chicago as a newlywed–she goes on a quest to meet 52 new potential friends over the course of one year. Yes, the premise is somewhat gimmicky, but I still really enjoyed this book, and it made me reflect on what I look for in friends in my own life.
Let’s add some perspective from the other side of the aisle, shall we? All Summer Long by Bob Greene is a great novel about adult male friendship. Although the main premise is a bit of a stretch—how many of us can actually take off for a whole summer to drive cross-country with two friends?—it’s still a solid, humorous, and at times very moving account of how childhood friendships ebb and flow into adulthood.
Come on now—if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you KNEW I had to include Charlotte’s Web on this list, right? To me, this is so much more than a children’s book—and one of the things that it is is a portrait of true friendship. I leave you with the last lines of this book—“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”
How about you? Have you read any of these? What are some of your favorite books about friendship? Please share!