Romances are fine and family dramas can be fun, but there's one relationship that nearly always makes for incredible literature:
the female friendship. A true friendship between two women is as deep and complex as the most sweeping of love stories. Somehow, though, we don't get to see all that many fully developed female friendships in mainstream media. Too often, women are portrayed as rivals for the affections of a man. Or they're mean to each other. Or there just aren't enough female characters for there to be a female friendship. Here are a few kick ass books about friendship between women, to read with your own best friend.
Don't get me wrong, though: female friendships aren't all handmade bracelets and brunch 100% of the time. These books all star fierce ladies, but they don't shy away from the ugly side of friendship, either. Just like any relationship, a close friendship is subject to ups and downs. In these books, you'll find childhood friends torn apart by fate, extremely different women forced together by circumstance, sisters, lovers, and all manner of other confusing gray areas between strangers and friends. You'll also find a whole lot of support, loyalty, and love. So check out these books about female friendships, and don't forget to check up on your female (and non-female) friends in real life:
'Another Brooklyn' by Jacqueline Woodson
August is an Ivy-league educated anthropologist, back in town for her father's funeral. Coming home re-awakens memories of her youth in Brooklyn, and her three best friends: Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi. Together, the four girls created a world of their own, set against the turbulent backdrop of New York in the 1970's.
Another Brooklyn is a beautiful ode to girlhood, in all its beauty and complications. Click here to buy.
'My Brilliant Friend' by Elena Ferrante
Any discussion of female friendships in literature has to include Elena Ferrante. In
My Brilliant Friend, the first of her Neapolitan Novels, Ferrante explores the rich inner lives of Elena and Lila. Living in the slums of Naples, Italy, the two girls learn how to navigate school, boys, sex, and crime syndicates, while their own relationship grows deeper and more complicated. Click here to buy.
'The Animators' by Kayla Rae Whitaker
Animation has been a boys' club for a long, long time. But Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses won't let that stop them: together, bold Mel and quietly ambitious Sharon make one hell of a team. Best friends and creative partners, Mel and Sharon take the world of animation by storm... but now that they're the toast of the indie art world, their success will start to test the strength of their once infallible friendship.
Click here to buy.
'The Color Purple' by Alice Walker
The Color Purple is an American classic, and this tale of women finding their strength in each other is just as relevant today as when it was first published. Young Celie has been horrifically abused by her father, and both of her children have been taken away. She's forced into an unhappy marriage to yet another hateful man, and her younger sister disappears. And yet, Celie is repeatedly saved by the courage and kindness of the women around her, who give her a reason to keep on going even when it seems that all hope is lost. Click here to buy.
'Swing Time' by Zadie Smith
Sometimes, our most important friendships don't follow us to adulthood. In Zadie Smith's
Swing Time, we follow two young girls who dream of being dancers. Only Tracey has the required talent, though. The other mostly has ideas, on everything from rhythm to black music to what constitutes a tribe. As they grow apart, both women reflect on the way they shaped each other as girls, now forging parallel paths in the world of music and dance. Click here to buy.
'Embroideries' by Marjane Satrapi
Women do a lot more than just sit around, gossiping about sex. But... yes, sometimes women
do want to share the ridiculous, glamorous, and poignant aspects of their intimate lives. In Embroideries, Marjane Satrapi's follow up to Persepolis, we're introduced to Satrapi's mother, grandmother, aunt, neighbors, and friends, as they all share the hysterical and revealing stories of their sexual escapades. Click here to buy.
'Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows' by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Nikki is a law school dropout in West London, and she's not particularly interested in the traditional Sikh community of her childhood. But when her family falls into a financial crisis, Nikki takes up a job teaching creative writing at the Punjabi community center. What starts as a proper literacy class filled with conservative Sikh widows soon snowballs into an erotic fiction club that breeds close friendships, secrets, and the clues to a shocking mystery.
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'The Group' by Mary McCarthy
Eight young women graduate from Vassar as fast friends. They all attend the wedding of Kay Strong, the first of their number to get married, but after that they're off to start their adult lives in all different directions. They travel Europe, start new careers, and fall in and out of love. They grow apart and then back together, but somehow The Group survives it all.
The Group is a wonderfully sardonic must-read for anyone who's ever been part of a close-knit group of friends. Click here to buy.
'A Thousand Splendid Suns' by Khaled Hosseini
Mariam and Laila have little in common. Born a generation apart, the two women grow up with different notions of a woman's place in the world, with different desires and different freedoms. But as war consumes Afghanistan, the two find themselves thrust together in the household of the same cruel man.
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a gorgeous, heart-wrenching story of two strangers who become sisters in order to survive. Click here to buy.