Having a sister is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Granted, my sister Alex and I are pretty freakish: in our 22 years of sisterhood, we have never seriously fought. Not once. I am as shocked as you are. But besides acknowledging our relationship to be the work of a benevolent universe, my sister and I are best friends. I’d like and respect Alex — for her humor, intelligence, and impeccable taste in literature — even if we didn’t share genetic material.
One of the most awesome things about having a fellow English major sister (who also harbors a healthy appreciation for lowbrow melodramas) is that she’s basically a built-in book club. There is so much culture to consume in this crazy colorful world, and it helps to have a fellow intrepid companion with whom to navigate this constantly expanding cultural terrain.
Here are 11 memorable books you and your own awesome sister will love reading together: some are silly nostalgic favorites; others are insightful explorations of what it means to be a woman today; and still others are straight-up sugary romps. Like a good bottle of wine (on your parents’ tab, obviously), each of these books can be read and enjoyed on your own — but they’ll be infinitely more fun and fulfilling when shared with your sister.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
When Alex and I read this book at ages 14 and 11, respectively, we loved Brashares’ uplifting, now-classic story of indelible girl-power friendship. But in our pre-Sex and the City days, we also loved matching up our personalities with the four colorful heroines, who were some of our first girl crushes. (In case you were wondering, Alex = Carmen/Lena/maybe a little bit of Bee; Caroline = just Tibby.)
How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley
Crosley’s first essay collection, I Was Told There’d Be Cake, established the young author as a remarkably insightful, extremely awkward talent to watch out for. But we loved Crosley’s second book even more than her first: we recognized some of our own weirdnesses and insecurities and Woody Allen-worthy neuroses in Crosley’s epically mundane observations, like her extended ode to the particular annoyances of living in our hometown of New York in “It’s Always Home You Miss.” (“The question is never ‘Should I be annoyed?’ but ‘How annoyed should I be?’”)
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
Alex urged me to read Erica Jong’s sex-positive feminist classic Fear of Flying as soon as I hit a passably “adult” age. Isadora Wing’s journey toward self-actualization presents a series of struggles — stability vs. passion, intimacy vs. independence — that all ambitious and intelligent women share. If you don’t have a sister, give this to your sister-worthy BFF.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
You'll probably recognize your and your sister's own compulsive Gmail-chat habits in Rainbow Rowell's first novel, whose format alternates between a narrative and an email exchange between work BFFs Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder. The women aren't sisters, but their sharp and witty email exchanges, and their mutual love and support for one another (especially concerning matters of disintegrating relationships and hardcore workplace crushes), will resonate with you and your real-life sister just the same.
Image: Bill Dubreuil/flickr