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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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?