8 Books To Read With Your College Best Friend After Graduation That Will Help You Stay Close, Despite Distance
Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about the first time I met my best friend. We were sitting together in a carpeted, closet-sized room at our school newspaper’s headquarters, waiting to be called in to interview for assistant opinions editor. Still starry-eyed first-years, we struck up an eager conversation as we waited. In the end, she got the job. I didn’t. A few months later though, another slot opened up, and we became co-editors. And that, Louie, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
The end of college didn’t change much for us: we became roommates in Boston and I continued to see her every single day. But now that I’m moving to DC in a couple of weeks, anticipating my upcoming move has us exchanging longing looks and speaking in hushed, mournful tones. (Did I mention we're a little bit dramatic?) So begins our LDR.
The end of college means the end of living within the same 10-mile radius as your closest friends. When I graduated last year, I wasn’t sad to say goodbye to the library stake-outs (or the morning-after-4 a.m.-nacho stomachaches), but I knew I’d miss my friends' long-winded Sunday brunch conversations set to the soft hum of dining hall chatter… or knocking on each others’ dorm room doors to the beat of Frozen’s “Do you want to build a snowman” (Come on, I know that wasn’t just us.) I knew I’d miss Friday night wine and take-out. Walking barefoot late at night up that one annoying hill that just wasn't made for high heels. Shared closets and curling irons. 3 a.m. Diet Coke parties.
Keeping relationships alive in spite of distance takes work, but if you love your people as much as I do, then you know it doesn’t feel like work. (Just kidding. It totally does sometimes.) But it’s like jumping on a treadmill: you might not be super-thrilled to do it on a Friday evening after work when all you want to do is collapse under the covers with a jar of Nutella — but you know that it’ll be good for you, sustain you, keep you going. You’ll feel so much better about everything once you hear that voice at the other end of the line.
As your lives slowly stretch apart, you’ll need to make a concerted effort to stay close to your college friends. Reading the same books can help you bridge the miles between you: especially if you read the following books, which will remind you how truly awesome it is to have such wonderful friends out there.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
Even if you don’t actually want to recreate The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (sadly, one-size-fit-all jeans are pretty hard to come across), reading the series with your friends will remind you of how complicated and how simple it is to be good to be people in your lives. Brashares’ novel shows us how our friends are our true soulmates — and the people who teach us how to love and be loved. (May all of us have a friend group like this one to fall back on!)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel follows the lives of the now-iconic March sisters. Growing up together, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy develop a bond that goes beyond sisterhood. Even though they fight and test each other, they love one another unconditionally. When Amy burns Jo’s manuscript, Jo freezes her out, almost causing Amy’s death when she slips through the ice at the nearby pond in an attempt to follow Jo and Laurie around. Sometimes the people we love and trust most are the ones who have to see the worst versions of ourselves, but that is because deep down we know their supply of love and support is self-replenishing.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Twin sisters Cath and Wren have always been inseparable. They even share the same name; the day they were born was the day their mom first realized she was having twins, and instead of coming up with two names, she decided to divide the name she’d chosen, Catherine, into two. But when they arrive to college, Wren decides it’s time for them to go their separate ways, leaving her shyer, quieter sister to fend for herself. Despite this, they find their way back to each other — blood may be thicker than water, but friendship is its much-needed fuel.
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
When popular, charming Tully Hart befriends her, Kate Mularkey cannot believe her luck. Their friendship spans decades and endures all sorts of trials, only to be put to the test over and over again. This novel examines the intricacies of trust, betrayal, and rivalries within friendship, showing us that to truly love a friend means we have to set our own pride aside and challenge ourselves to be better.
I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
Ephron’s time-honored essay collection is the perfect book to read with your best friend now that you’re out in the "real world." Cough. Ephron’s essays tackle the conundrums and contradictions of growing older as a woman. Who better to dispense advice on how to age with grace than Nora Ephron? (I know, I know, we’re still really young in our 20s, but as someone about to hit the 25-year mark, I will tell you it doesn’t often feel that way.)
Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat
This collection of interconnected stories focuses on generations of strong Haitian women as they struggle to come to terms with their rightful places within their country’s social and economic tapestry. Unlike her ancestors, the novel’s narrator does not take to the kitchen in order to deal with her problems (or to avoid confronting them); rather, she chooses another form of creation: writing. By telling women’s stories, she pulls at the threads of narratives that have striven to keep women invisible and voiceless.
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
Allende’s famous novel explores the role of feminism within a pretty awesome woman’s life. According to Allende, this book is near and dear to her heart, as through her headstrong character Eliza Sommers, Allende began to shape her own identity as a woman and feminist. Half-British, half-Chilean Eliza is a willful adventurer who does not let the tragic aftermath of her love story with Joaquin Andieta shape the course of her life. Instead of staying behind and waiting for her love to return, when Joaquin leaves Chile for California during the gold rush, Eliza follows close behind. Traveling with her friend Tao Chi’en, Eliza defies expectations pressed upon nice, society women. You’ll both follow Eliza’s journey with rapt attention and debate her choices with passion.
The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar
Umrigar’s novel centers on the lives of four college best friends: Armaiti, Laleh, Kavita, and Nishta. In their forties and having abandoned the revolutionary fervor that characterized their college years, these once inseparable friends have grown apart. But when Armaiti reaches out to tell them that she has terminal cancer, asking them to travel from Bombay to the United States to visit her so that they can all be together one last time, they find that the source of their friendship replenished, getting themselves on a plane against the odds — and despite Nishta’s abusive husband’s disapproval.