Literature is filled with
stories about best friends falling in love — with some seriously mixed results. From the besties who suddenly realize they’re meant to be, to the long-awaited first kiss that changes everything, to the painfully one-sided unrequited love between BFFs, to the Ross-and-Rachel-style rollercoaster relationship dramas, to the friendship turned romantic that only ends up turning everything sour, instances of best friends who fall in love are well documented in novels and memoirs, poetry collections and more. And if you’ve ever been there yourself — and honestly, haven’t most of us? — you probably know that romances between besties can go from magical to messy and back again quicker than a laugh track-filled episode of Friends. (It always seems like such a good idea at the time though, doesn’t it?)
With the holiday of love just days away, whether you’re celebrating an anniversary, basking in the glow of a new relationship, nursing some major heartbreak, pining for your true love from afar, or finally gearing up to take that first BFF-to-lover step, there is a book — or several — for you. Here are 12
books about falling in love with your best friend, to add to your Valentine’s Day TRB pile this year. 'Mansfield Park' by Jane Austen
Jane Austen is all about the agony of the drawn-out, nearly-unrequited romance — often between best friends (and sometimes best friends/distant cousins.) In
Mansfield Park, Austen’s third published novel, the one-sided love between Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram begins when Fanny is just 10-years-old and Edmund is 16. As one of the only people to demonstrate friendship and kindness towards Fanny, Edmund quickly becomes the object of her affections. But it definitely takes him awhile to catch up. Click here to buy. 'Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe' by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
When complete opposites Aristotle and Dante meet, they initially have nothing in common: but both loners, they become fast — if hesitant — best friends. But when their friendship turns into something more, something neither of the teens ever expected, they’ll both be forced to look at life (and love, and themselves) differently.
Click here to buy. 'Brokeback Mountain' by Annie Proulx
What began as a short story evolved into the novel that readers could not get out of their minds (kind of similar to when a best friendship turns romantic.) When ranch hands Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist meet on a remote, mountain range one summer, their instant friendship soon evolves into a romance — a forbidden one — that will challenge, awaken, and haunt them for the rest of their lives.
Click here to buy. 'The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls' by Anton DiSclafani
There’s just something about 19th and early 20th century romances that blur the lines between best friend, lover, and cousin. People just didn’t get out as much, I guess. A cautionary tale about how falling in love with your best friend can sometimes completely ruin your life (and theirs)
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls tells the story of wilder-than-her-time, 15-year-old Thea Atwell, who is sent away from home after her childhood best friendship turned romantic, leading to a devastating act of violence and destroying her family forever. Click here to buy. 'Just Kids' by Patti Smith
A memoir that transports readers into the real-life, deeper-than-romantic love between best friends Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe,
Just Kids tells the story of the relationship that defined Smith’s wild, broke, artistic 20s, and informed the rest of her creative life — her love-filled friendship with the larger-than-life photographer. You can’t really come into artistic adulting together in the smallest room in the Chelsea Hotel and not be totally-crazy-about-one-another-BFFs. Click here to buy. 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' by J.K. Rowling
The Harry Potter series culminates in a whole lot of stories about BFFs-turned-lovers (that most Potterheads saw coming from miles away, and accepted with varying degrees of satisfaction.) The most epic, of course, is the pairing of Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger — although many a Potter lover will tell you she’s way, WAY too good for him. But there’s also the slow-simmering love between friends Harry and Ginny; the long-awaited love between Lupin and Tonks; and the violently obsessive,
Wuthering-Heights-style, one-sided love Snape had for Harry’s mother Lily. Click here to buy. 'Looking for Alaska' by John Green
While I wouldn’t necessarily call Miles “Pudge” Halter Alaska Young’s best friend at Culver Creek Boarding School, he might be her only friend. Boarding schools and teenagers being what they are, their friendship is primed for romance — at least, as far as Pudge is concerned. He falls headfirst in love with the wild, unpredictable, and often-troubled Alaska. But, as many one-sided romances do, this one ends in heartbreak.
Click here to buy. 'If I Was Your Girl' by Meredith Russo
New girl in school Amanda Hardy is determined to keep her distance from everyone and is hiding a secret that could unravel her entire, fragile world. But her evolving relationship with Grant — one that quickly begins to blur the boundaries between friendship and romance — finds her opening her heart and eager to share the truth about her past in ways she never expected.
Click here to buy. 'The Newlyweds' by Nell Freudenberger
Amina Mazid and George Stillman begin their relationship neither as best friends nor as lovers — they do, however, start out married. After meeting online and agreeing to an amicable marriage that will benefit them both, Amina leaves her home in Bangladesh and immigrates to the United States to wed George. But Amina is also holding on to a love for someone else: her childhood best friend back home. The relationships in this novel go through all sorts of evolutions: romance to friendship, friendship to romance, and more, before it all works out in the end.
Click here to buy. 'Love Warrior' by Glennon Doyle
Another memoir that explores the many manifestations of friendship, love, and romance that can be experienced between the same two people, Glennon Doyle’s
Love Warrior dives into the author’s first marriage: the early struggles, the evolutions of love and friendship, and most importantly: how finding friendship and love for yourself is key to cultivating friendship and love with others. For those who follow Doyle and know how this story ends, you know Love Warrior was only the beginning. Click here to buy. 'The Time Traveler's Wife' by Audrey Niffenegger
When Clare and Henry meet, Clare is just six-years-old to Henry’s 36 — and the two become unlikely, albeit life changing, friends. But that friendship evolves into something more as Clare ages and Henry jumps back and forth between time: leading to a love that is both unrequited and fulfilled, and a friendship that is both romantic and so much more.
Click here to buy. 'When Dimple Met Rishi' by Sandhya Menon
Dimple and Rishi are another couple who begin as neither besties nor lovers — in fact, they’re actually set up for a prospective arranged marriage when their parents discover they’re both headed to the same web design summer camp. The two meet cute in a “you totally destroyed my outfit” kind of way, and a begrudging friendship evolves before growing into something more.
Click here to buy.