Fifteen Books that Celebrate Friendship

9th August, 2016

Last Sunday, on August 7th, the world celebrated Friendship Day. Messages, tweets and even gifts were exchanged both in the online and offline worlds. As we grow older, the number of friends in the immediate circle dwindles, but how wonderful to have a few good ones who stay on, right? Thank God for friends.

Book List : Fifteen Books that Celebrate Friendship

“I am never sad when a friend goes away, because whichever city or country the friend goes to, they turn the place friendly. They turn a suspicious looking place on the map into a place where a welcome can be found. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

Here is a list of books that celebrate friendship. Isn’t it wonderful that as a reader, a fictional character would seem like an old friend when you finish reading the book? The books that make you feel that way are the best. Aren’t they?

All book covers have been linked to their Good Reads pages.

harry potter and the philosopher's stone

1. HARRY POTTER by J. K. Rowling

Of course, the number one book for friendship would be the Harry Potter series. Harry, Ron and Hermoine are the perfect trio. I love the jealousy and irritability that invade the friendship as they grew older. And how everything turns out well in the end, because that is what happens in true friendships.

There are several other friendships in the book as well – Hagrid and Harry, Luna and Harry, Dumbledore and Snape and SO MANY others. Each is special in their own way. And throughout the book the message is loud and clear – With friendship and love you can defeat anything evil that crosses your path.

I grew up reading Harry Potter. I love re-reading the books and  re-watching the movies. I re-read all the seven books last year. As for the movies, I  re-watched them  in July to celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday.

Okay, I should stop gushing about the book and move on to the next one.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

2. MY BRILLIANT FRIEND by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend is the first book of the Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante. Though I have read just  two books in the series, I am sure the books that follow fit into the theme of friendship as well.

It is the story of Lena and Lila who are friends, despite being very different from one another. As they grow older, their paths converge and diverge. The book is the story of the friendship from their childhood up to teens. The rest of the books pick up the trail from that period of their lives.

You can read a review of the book here.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

3. CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein

Maddie, is a transport pilot; and Julie,is a spy. Complete with interesting secondary characters and a good plot, this war novel talks much about what friendship really means. The read is said to be a heart wrecking one.

This one is on my TBR. It is a loved read both by YA audience as well as the literary fiction preferring readers.

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares

4. THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELLING PANTS by Ann Brashares

Four girls formed the Sisterhood when they discover a magical pair of pants that fits them all despite their varying body types. Bridget is off to soccer camp in Mexico, Carmen travels to visit her father in South Carolina, Tibby stays home and finds a summer job while working on a documentary and Lena visits her grandparents in Greece. The girls decide to mail the pants to each other along with a letter over the summer. The pants seem to  bring about major changes in their lives whenever they wear it.

This was a fun read and the movie was fun to watch too.

Charlotte's Web by E. B. White

5. CHARLOTTE’S WEB by E. B. White

A heart warming children’s story about the friendship between a pig and a spider. There are themes such as unselfishness, and death as well,  written in a way that can be easily understood by children.

I read this book as an adult and adored the story. It made me sad and happy at the same time.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

6. THE THREE MUSKETEERS by Alexandre Dumas

The Three Musketeers is the story of the adventures of d’Artagnan and his three friends from the regiment of the King’s Musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. There is an evil Cardinal and the beautifully seductive Milady on the foreground while political tensions, egositic clashes and power struggles form the background of the narrative.

I have read this as a child and I think a re-read is in order. The famous motto “All for one and one for all” still sends thrills down my spine.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

7. ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L. M. Montgomery

Isn’t the friendship between the orphan red-haired Anne, adopted by the Cuthberts, and Diana the best? I love what an intimate friendship they shared, that lasted decades throughout the series. They were ‘bosom friends’ as Anne called it.

Being a fan of Anne Shirley, I couldn’t leave the book out of the list. I have a fondness for the Gilbert and Anne as well – who started off as enemies, then became friends and later fell in love.

The Boy is Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

8. THE BOY IN STRIPED PYJAMAS by John Boyne

Bruno is devastated to be leaving his friends and school when his family shifts to another place on account of his father’s profession. While exploring, he meets a boy who becomes his friend. But why is he always dressed in pyjamas? They build their friendship on either side of the fence that separates them. Until…

This is a heart breaking story. I have only seen the movie and it broke my heart. The book is said to be even better and I will soon be picking it from my shelf. The biggest merit of the story is the innocence of the boys confronting the minds of the adults. Though the story is by a nine year old boy, the themes are not suitable for such small children.

The Waves by Virginia Woolf

9. THE WAVES by Virginia Woolf

The Waves is the story of six friends spanning over decades from their childhood to late adulthood. The book talks of the passage of time and identity of the friends as isolated beings and as a group. It portrays their aspirations that change over the course of time as well as the small joys and big regrets they encounter along the way.

This was my most difficult Woolf to get into. It required  re-reading of passages, looking up references and a lot of thinking to assimilate the meaning in the prose.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

10. THE JOY LUCK CLUB by Amy Tan

The Joy Luck Club is the story of four Chinese women who are new to the city of San Fransico. Being homesick, they find solace in one another, eating out together and sharing sorrows. The book talks of the bond between mothers and daughters as well. And how similar and different the friendship between the next generation is.

This book has often been described as Amy Tan’s best and is on my TBR.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

11. DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD by Rebecca Wells

Siddalee and her mother, Vivi have a very complicated relationship. When the relationship becomes even more tangled up, a group of ladies who call themselves the Ya-Ya sisters emerge and urge Vivi to send Sidda her old scrap book. As the daughter reads through, she begins to discover the woman her mother was, but never knew.

I read this book years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a light, fun summery read.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

12. A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life earned a place in many of shortlists last year, including The Man Booker one. It is the story of four classmates who move to New York and the ups and downs they encounter on the way. The friends are Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and Jude, an intelligent orphan.

This one is still on my TBR. If you are uncomfortable with self harm, child trafficking, rape and intimate partner violence, then this one isn’t  for you.

Confession : I am intimidated by the big size and the heart breaking themes, so have not picked it up yet.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

13. THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner is the story of the friendship between a rich man’s son and his servant’s child. They move apart after a kite – flying incident. The book shows the varying shades of emotions in both the boys depending on their social class as well as the sweeping change that overtakes either as they mature into adults.

This novel is a well executed one and if you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend that you do. It startles you and then comforts you with the knowledge that the past can never be changed but the future can.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

14. THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ by L. Frank Baum

A tornado whirls Dorothy  and her dog, Toto, into a magical world. To get home, she must find the wonderful wizard in the Emerald City of Oz and keep herself safe from the Wicked Witch. On the way she meets the brainless Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman without a heart and the Cowardly Lion. This is a beautiful book that shows how friendship can surpass evil plans.

This was a favourite read of mine as a child. Following Dorothy and her adventures in such an imaginative world is pure bliss. I have lost count of the times I have watched the movie starring Judy Garland.

Confession : I still hum the song “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.”

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

15. THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J. R. R. Tolkien

Which book list on friendship would be complete without a mention of this epic read? The close bond between the Hobbits is the most remarkable one. It is a book that shows that helpless and unimportant you may be,  if your friends have got your back, you can win in the journey.

Confessions : I belong to the lazy category of readers who have not fully read The Lord of the Rings. I adore the movies and have watched them SO MANY times. And yes I have memories of screaming out loud and being star struck when Lord Aragon came on the screen (In my defense, I was just a school girl then). I have read only the first book. Maybe I should read the rest too.

Let's discuss

Have you read any of these? What are your favourite books on friendships? Or your favourite friends in literature? Any books I should place higher up on the TBR?

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This Post Has 39 Comments
  1. What a fantastic list! I think sometimes friendship themes don’t get as much attention as romance, but they’re so important. I keep seeing the cover for A Little Life but hadn’t actually read a summary. Yet, after your warnings I will say that I’m not sure I could. Sometimes you have to know within yourself what themes you can handle and which are a little harder to read.

  2. Hey Resh! My all time fav book on friendship is The Kite Runner. So glad to see it on the list.

    THE BOY IN STRIPED PYJAMAS is a favourite. I have only watched the film yet.

    HP is a legend. A constant presence throughout my adolescence. 🙂

    May I suggest ‘How to kill a mocking bird’?

  3. The first book about friendship that pops into my head is Anne of Green Gables, so I’m happy to see that on your list! You’ve thought of a lot of great friendship books. I probably wouldn’t have thought to include Lord of the Rings, but those Hobbits were tight!

  4. Great list. I cried over Boy in Striped Pajamas–I can’t bring myself to watch the movie. I loved the Ya-Ya books, Anne of Avonlea series too.The Joy Luck Club was assigned in my first literature class in 1980. So many great books on this list. I must confess though. [Hangs head in shame] I’m a Hobitt/LOTRs drop-out. I’ve never made it thru ….. Fell asleep in one movie on Christmas day, too. Forgive me?

  5. I think the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a good one on friendships because those girls are always supportive of each other even if they disagree. The story has its faults but the friendship in it is solid. I just wish the girls’ relationships with their mothers were as strong.
    I watched the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie and the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood movie as well and I always thought the Ya-Ya movie is of the Traveling Pants girls when they’re older.

  6. I, too, have only seen The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, but I have to disagree that the themes aren’t suitable for young children. It’s a great tool for discussion.

  7. Anne of Green Gables is a great choice. I read it when I was very young and can still recall the effect it had on me as a young girl. Good to see the Ferrante on your list too, a future classic.

  8. I still need to read Anne of Green Gables and, I’ve been meaning to read The Three Musketeers ever since I started watching The Musketeers on BBC. (Yes, I know the show is completely different from the book, but I still want to read it.) I haven’t read The Kite Runner, but I have read A Thousand Splendid Suns which is by the same author and deals with female friendship.

    1. Claire — I really enjoyed the article you posted, thank you for sharing with us!

      Resh — I would add Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch to this list on friendships, but you’ve covered all my favorite books on friendships and introduced me to a few more. Who doesn’t love Harry, Hermione & Ron?

  9. Harry Potter features one of the greatest friendships, at least from the ones I’ve read about. And regarding The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, I got more from the movie than from the actual book. I really enjoyed the book and it was devastating indeed but there was something about the movie that really broke me. I read The Lord of the Rings so many years ago that to be honest I remember the movies better than the actual narrative but the bond you speak of between the Hobbits is fantastic, especially in the movies.
    Another two friendships that really make me warm inside are the ones between Liesel and Max and Liesen and Rudy both in The Book Thief

    1. Glad you agree about Harry Potter. I love that series. I agree about Liesel’s friednships in Book Thief. The one between Liesel and Max is wonderful too. I must read The Lord of the Rings one day.

  10. Oh, this is the perfect post! I love books that feature wonderful friendships. Harry Potter might be my favorite. There is so much to love about The Golden Trio. I love how they balance each other out. Anne and Diane are wonderful as well. Everyone should have a bosom friend. I haven’t read Lord of the Rings either, despite owning the books. The movies are so amazing, so I ought to pick them up. Wonderful list!

  11. So much yessss especially to your first and your last one <3 Whenever I reread or rewatch LOTR or HP, my usually immovable heart gets filled with so much love and I get inexplicably emotional, haha! I also adored Code Name Verity even though it was such a painful book towards the end. Will definitely have to check out your other suggestions now <3

  12. Oh oh I love your list!!! The Harry Potter trio are TRULY friendship goals. :’) And I have infinite love for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas book…it TORE OUT MY HEART. I couldn’t even bear the movie afterwards, tbh, so I’m still working up courage for it. And it’s been like 3 years since I read the book…hahahhahha. *cries*

    Also Code Name Verity is BEAUTIFUL and just as tragic as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Omg what is it with WWII books destroying me? They are precious and I love them and they always melt me into a puddle. <3

  13. Love this post because I need more fantastic bookish friendships. I mean, Harry potter gave me some best friend goals growing up and I adore the friendship between Harry, Ron and Hermione and I will always adore it. I hadn’t even thought of Tolkien’s books for friendship but OMG the friendship between the hobbits and that which develops within their fellowship was amazing. It’s such an obvious book about friendship when you actually think. I’m glad to see a Ya-Ya book on the list, I love that film and I’ve had the book on my shelf for a good long while. i think that may be my friendship read for the summer, after I reread HP anyway.

    What a great post!

  14. Absolutely incredible recommendations here! I’m ALWAYS banging on about how important friendship is in books – Harry Potter, LotR, Code Name Verity…all really great picks. I definitely have to read The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants <3

  15. I think everyone is a little intimidated by A Little Life at first. I still am! But one of these days I will have to get over this fear.
    Great list, Resh. I love how tidy and easy to read it is!
    The Joy Luck Club, Lord of the Rings, and The Kite Runners are all modern classics that I think every book lover should read.

  16. I haven’t read The Waves or A little life. I echo Claire’s recommendation of Sula. The only other one I can think of right now is Jane Duncan’s my friend series. I read several of these in high school/early 20s, and have been buying ebook copies since they recently became available. They are set in Scotland (and the Caribbean) in first half of the 20th century.

  17. Books that celebrate friendship have been under appreciated lately, in my opinion. Everyone has started shipping any two characters who even remotely express concern for each other because “just friends” is somehow subpar. Friendships are awesome, okay?

  18. Great post! Books about friendships really are the best! I love when you feel like you gained a new friend after reading a new book. OF COURSE Harry Potter is the number one friendship book. The friendships in this series are just so beautiful and inspirational. And LOTR as well! I have read the books a few years ago, but I remember they were pretty tough to get through, so I kind of have to admit I prefer the movies… And Samwise Gamgee will forever be my favorite character 🙂

  19. Ohhh…. Code Name Verity is very heartbreaking. But their friendship is fantastic.

    And LOTR!!! Yes. Sam is like the best best friend ever, and Pippin and Merry are adorable. <3
    Don't feel bad, lol, I haven't read any of the books, but I think the movies are beautiful things.

    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbosityreviews.com

  20. I’m surprised by how many of these books are ones I’ve read! Growing up, I was obsessed with Traveling Pants. Partly because it’s set in my neighborhood, but also because it really celebrated young women supporting one another. I even enjoyed the movies.
    Now The Boy int he Striped Pajamas made me absolutely miserable in the worst way. To this day, when I’m unhappy, I’ll reference it. As in, “I’m Boy in the Striped Pajamas” unhappy. My boyfriend immediately knows what I mean.

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