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Last Updated on May 26, 2023 by Jella Erhard

Explore the most touching, hilarious, and useful fiction & nonfiction books about friendship and best friends for adults and young adult readers.

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top books about friendship

Must-Read Books About Friendship

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Explore some of the best fiction and non-fiction books about friendship that will not only entertain you with heartwarming and unforgettable stories but also help you become a better friend.

You’ll find here timeless and beloved classics but also beloved modern friendship books with meaningful themes and thought-provoking stories that show how relationships and friendships shape our lives.

RELATED: New Atmospheric Feel-Good Books To Read

We also included powerful and useful nonfiction books that examine the dynamics and significance of friendships and give their readers actionable tips and advice on how to navigate these complex relationships better with research-backed insights.

These often hilarious books offer valuable insights into nurturing and maintaining strong, meaningful connections, empowering readers to cultivate and cherish their own friendships.

Fiction Books About Friendship

9. We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman

We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman - new books about friendship

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Synopsis:

Who knows you better than your best friend? Who knows your secrets, your fears, your desires, your strange imperfect self?

Edi and Ash have been best friends for over forty years.Since childhood they have seen each other through life’s milestones: stealing vodka from their parents, the Madonna phase, REM concerts, unexpected wakes, marriages, infertility, children.

As Ash notes, ‘Edi’s memory is like the back-up hard drive for mine.’

So when Edi is diagnosed with terminal cancerAsh‘s world reshapes around the rhythms of Edi’s care, from chipped ice and watermelon cubes to music therapy; from snack smuggling to impromptu excursions into the frozen winter night.

Because life is about squeezing the joy out of every moment, about building a powerhouse of memories, about learning when to hold on, and when to let go.

We All Want Impossible Things is one of the most beautifully heartbreaking modern books about once-in-a-lifetime friendships that perfectly captures the emotional rollercoaster that happens when a loved one goes into hospice and the beauty and burden of caring for someone in their final moments.

8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - classsic books about friendship

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Synopsis:

Since its immediate success in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has remained one of the most popular novels in the English language. Jane Austen called this brilliant work “her own darling child” and its vivacious heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print.”

The romantic clash between the opinionated Elizabeth and her proud beau, Mr. Darcy, is a splendid performance of civilized sparring. And Jane Austen’s radiant wit sparkles as her characters dance a delicate quadrille of flirtation and intrigue, making this book the most superb comedy of manners of Regency England.

Pride and Prejudice is set in early 19th-century England, the story revolves around the spirited and intelligent Elizabeth Bennet. As she navigates the rigid social conventions of her time, she encounters the proud and wealthy Mr. Darcy.

Initially, their first impressions of each other are marred by misunderstandings and prejudices, leading to a series of miscommunications and clashes. However, as the narrative unfolds, Austen skillfully depicts the evolution of their relationship, gradually revealing the depth of their characters and the transformative power of love and understanding.

Jane Austen’s keen observations, engaging characters, and clever social commentary make it a remarkable choice for adults and young adults seeking classic books about friendship. The novel serves as a reminder that true friendship can transcend societal expectations and that genuine connections are built on mutual understanding, respect, and the willingness to challenge our own prejudices.

You can also check out other hilarious and romantic Jane Austin-inspired books that deal with similar themes.

Pride and Prejudice is a literary masterpiece that continues to captivate readers with its exploration of love, friendship, and societal conventions.

7. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman - funny books about friendship

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Synopsis:

A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul.

All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

Backman’s writing style is engaging and heartfelt, skillfully blending moments of humor with profound insights into the human condition. His characters are richly drawn and multi-dimensional, eliciting empathy and a genuine emotional investment from readers.

Ove, in particular, is a memorable and lovable character, whose journey from a curmudgeonly loner to an unlikely hero tugs at the heartstrings and leaves a lasting impression.

A Man Called Ove is one of the most beautifully written and hilarious modern novels that celebrates the power of friendship, compassion, and unexpected connections.

6. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple by Alice Walker - must read books about friendship

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Synopsis:

Set in the deep American South between the wars, The Color Purple is the classic tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls ‘father’, she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage.

But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker – a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.

Alice Walker’s evocative prose, compelling characters, and exploration of challenging themes make it a compelling choice for both adults and young adults seeking books about friendship.

It serves as a reminder of the enduring power of love, resilience, and authentic connections in the face of adversity, leaving a lasting impact on readers long after they turn the final page.

The Color Purple is a must-read for readers who are looking for profound and emotionally charged books that delve into the complexities of friendship, self-discovery, and the quest for personal liberation.

5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - fiction books about friendship

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Synopsis:

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger‘s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery.

So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times.When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

Markus Zusak’s evocative prose and compelling characters create a narrative that transcends age and captivates readers seeking books about friendship. It serves as a reminder that even in the bleakest of times, friendship, love, and the power of words have the ability to light a flame of hope and inspire acts of extraordinary bravery.

The Book Thief is one of the most powerful and emotional historical fiction books about friendship, love, the importance of storytelling, and the invincible nature of the human spirit.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - best friendship books

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Synopsis:

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it. “To Kill A Mockingbird” became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Set in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, the story is told through the eyes of Scout Finch, a young girl navigating the complexities of her community. Scout, along with her brother Jem and their friend Dill, becomes engrossed in the mystery surrounding a reclusive neighbor and the unjust trial of a black man accused of rape.

Through the lens of Scout’s perspective, the novel exposes the deep-rooted prejudices and social divisions that plague the town.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, “To Kill A Mockingbird” takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos.

Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

To Kill A Mockingbird story explores friendship, social injustice, and the loss of innocence while reminding its readers of the enduring power of genuine connections and the importance of standing up for what is right

3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - must-read friendship books

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Synopsis:

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, caught in the tragic sweep of history, The Kite Runner transports readers to Afghanistan at a tense and crucial moment of change and destruction.

A powerful story of friendship, it is also about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

It is a powerful story that’s a great choice for adults and young adults who are looking for powerful books about friendship, healing, and forgiveness.

The Kite Runner is a compelling and thought-provoking book that explores the complexities of friendship, redemption, and personal growth.

2. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - friendship books

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Synopsis:

Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re 16.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
“I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”

Set over one school year in 1986, Eleanor & Park is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Rainbow Rowell’s ability to capture the essence of teenage emotions and the transformative power of connection makes it a compelling choice for those seeking the best books about friendship.

Through its relatable characters and universal themes, Eleanor & Park reminds readers of the enduring impact of genuine connections and the remarkable strength that can be found in unlikely relationships.

Eleanor & Park is one of the most beautifully written YA books about friendship and family that also explores the complexities of young love and self-discovery.

1. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom - books on friendship

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Synopsis:

From the author of the phenomenal #1 New York Times bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie, a novel that explores the unexpected connections of our lives, and the idea that heaven is more than a place; it’s an answer.

Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart.

He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It’s a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers.

One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?”

The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a compelling and profound novel that invites readers to contemplate life’s bigger questions and is a great choice for adults and YA readers who love stories about friendship and the interconnectedness of human existence.

Nonfiction Books About Friendship

6. My Glory Was I Had Such Friends by Amy Silverstein

My Glory Was I Had Such Friends by Amy Silverstein

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Synopsis:

In this moving memoir about the power of friendship and the resilience of the human spirit, Amy Silverstein tells the story of the extraordinary group of women who supported her as she waited on the precipice for a life-saving heart transplant.

Nearly twenty-six years after receiving her first heart transplant, Amy Silverstein’s donor heart plummeted into failure. If she wanted to live, she had to take on the grueling quest for a new heart—immediately.

A shot at survival meant uprooting her life and moving across the country to California. When her friends heard of her plans, there was only one reaction: “I’m there.” Nine remarkable women—Joy, Jill, Leja, Jody, Lauren, Robin, Valerie, Ann, and Jane—put demanding jobs and pressing family obligations on hold to fly across the country and be by Amy’s side.

Creating a calendar spreadsheet, the women—some of them strangers to one another—passed the baton of friendship, one to the next, and headed straight and strong into the battle to help save Amy’s life.

Empowered by the kind of empathy that can only grow with age, these women, each knowing Amy from different stages of her life, banded together to provide her with something that medicine alone could not.

Sleeping on a cot beside her bed, they rubbed her back and feet when the pain was unbearable, adorned her room with death-distracting decorations, and engaged in their “best talks ever.”  They saw the true measure of their friend’s strength, and they each responded in kind.

My Glory Was I Had Such Friends is a tribute to these women and the intense hours they spent together—hours of heightened emotion and self-awareness, where everything was laid bare.

Candid and heartrending, this once-in-a-lifetime story of connection and empathy is a powerful reminder of the ultimate importance of “showing up” for those we love.

My Glory Was I Had Such Friends is a poignant and inspiring memoir that showcases the immense impact of friendship in the face of a life-threatening illness.

5. Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are by Carlin Flora

Friendfluence The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are by Carlin Flora

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Synopsis:

Discover the unexpected ways friends influence our personalities, choices, emotions, and even physical health in this fun and compelling examination of friendship, based on the latest scientific research and ever-relatable anecdotes.

Why is dinner with friends often more laughter filled and less fraught than a meal with family? Although some say it’s because we choose our friends, it’s also because we expect less of them than we do of relatives.

While we’re busy scrutinizing our romantic relationships and family dramas, our friends are quietly but strongly influencing everything from the articles we read to our weight fluctuations, from our sex lives to our overall happiness levels.

Evolutionary psychologists have long theorized that friendship has roots in our early dependence on others for survival. These days, we still cherish friends but tend to undervalue their role in our lives.

However, the skills one needs to make good friends are among the very skills that lead to success in life, and scientific research has recently exploded with insights about the meaningful and enduring ways friendships influence us.

With people marrying later—and often not at all—and more families having just one child, these relationships may be gaining in importance. The evidence even suggests that at times friends have a greater hand in our development and well-being than do our romantic partners and relatives.

Friends see each other through the process of growing up, shape each other’s interests and outlooks, and, painful though it may be, expose each other’s rough edges.

Childhood and adolescence, in particular, are marked by the need to create distance between oneself and one’s parents while forging a unique identity within a group of peers, but friends continue to influence us, in ways big and small, straight through old age.

Perpetually busy parents who turn to friends—for intellectual stimulation, emotional support, and a good dose of merriment—find a perfect outlet to relieve the pressures of raising children. In the office setting, talking to a friend for just a few minutes can temporarily boost one’s memory.

While we romanticize the idea of the lone genius, friendship often spurs creativity in the arts and sciences. And in recent studies, having close friends was found to reduce a person’s risk of death from breast cancer and coronary disease, while having a spouse was not.

Friendfluence surveys online-only pals, friend breakups, the power of social networks, envy, peer pressure, the dark side of amicable ties, and many other varieties of friendship.

Told with warmth, scientific rigor, and a dash of humor, Friendfluence not only illuminates and interprets the science but draws on clinical psychology and philosophy to help readers evaluate and navigate their own important friendships.

Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are is one of the most thought-provoking nonfiction books about friendships and the profound impact they have on our lives.

4. Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend by Irene S. Levine

Best Friends Forever Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend by Irene S. Levine

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Synopsis:

For the first time, a guide for women recovering from a breakup with their best friend-an indispensable addition to every woman’s library.

Men, jobs, children, personal crises, irreconcilable social gaps-these are just a few of the strange and confusing reasons that may cause a female friendship to end. No matter what the circumstances, the breakup of a female friendship leaves a woman devastated and asking herself difficult questions.

Was someone to blame? Is the friendship worth fighting for? How can I prevent this from ever happening again? Psychologist Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., offers this groundbreaking and heroically honest book for abandoned friends seeking solace.

Perfect for women of all ages and from all walks of life, “Best Friends Forever” covers:
Why friendships fall apart
Coping with getting dumped
How to end a friendship that can’t be fixed
Moving forward after a traumatizing breakup

Dr. Levine draws from years of research and the personal testimonials of thousands of women to provide anecdotes and solutions to these complicated situations.

Full of tools for personal assessment, case stories, and actionable advice for saving, ending, or re-evaluating a relationship, “Best Friends Forever” is an indispensable addition to every woman’s library.

Irene S. Levine’s empathetic approach, combined with her expertise as a psychologist, makes it a valuable resource for adults and young adults seeking healing and guidance during times of friendship breakup.

By providing validation, understanding, and practical tools for self-care and growth, this book offers a pathway toward healing and creating new connections in the aftermath of a friendship loss.

Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend is a compassionate and insightful guide that offers support and practical strategies for navigating the complexities of friendship loss.

3. Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself by Nedra Glover Tawwab

Set Boundaries by Nedra Glover Tawwab - nonfiction friendship and relationship books

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Synopsis:

The instant  New York Times  bestseller

End the struggle, speak up for what you need, and experience the freedom of being truly yourself.

Healthy boundaries. We all know we should have them–in order to achieve work/life balance, cope with toxic people, and enjoy rewarding relationships with partners, friends, and family.

But what do “healthy boundaries” really mean–and how can we successfully express our needs, say “no,” and be assertive without offending others?

Licensed counselor, sought-after relationship expert, and one of the most influential therapists on Instagram Nedra Glover Tawwab demystifies this complex topic for today’s world.

In a relatable and inclusive tone, Set Boundaries, Find Peace presents simple-yet-powerful ways to establish healthy boundaries in all aspects of life.

Rooted in the latest research and best practices used in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), these techniques help us identify and express our needs clearly and without apology–and unravel a root problem behind codependency, power struggles, anxiety, depression, burnout, and more.

Set Boundaries, Find Peace is a must-read for adults and young adults who want to reclaim their personal power and strengthen their relationships.

2. Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make and Keep Friends by Marisa G. Franco

Platonic How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make and Keep Friends by Marisa G. Franco

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Synopsis:

A lively, data-driven guide to finding your people from psychologist Dr. Marisa G. Franco about the (sometimes surprising) science behind making friends, maintaining them, and building connections of ALL sorts in an era of social fragmentation and rampant loneliness.

Loneliness is an epidemic, in part due to a culture that prioritizes romance at the expense of all other relationships.

But in fact, science shows that platonic friendships are a crucial–possibly THE crucial–key to shaping who we are and how we can become our happiest, most fulfilled selves. So how do we nurture meaningful relationships in an era of distraction, burnout, and chaos?

Just as economist Emily Oster (Crib Sheet) breaks down the science of child-rearing by countering fables with facts, psychologist and professor Marissa G. Franco unpacks the latest (often counterintuitive) findings about friendship–for example, why your friends aren’t texting you back (it’s not because they hate you!), and the myth of “just showing up” (you need to bring more than your mere presence to the table to make real friends!).

Forging lasting bonds with other people isn’t rocket science…but it does take work, and there are research-based ways to improve the number and quality of your connections. The good news: the benefits can be massive to not just our sense of wellbeing but also to our physical health.

With vivid, relatable storytelling bolstered by the latest psychological research, Platonic provides a clear and actionable blueprint for understanding and conquering the barriers that keep you from forging strong, lasting connections with others.

In short, Platonic will give you permission to hold friendship in the highest regard–because it deserves to be.

Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make and Keep Friends is an insightful and practical guide for adults and young adults seeking to deepen their understanding of friendship and improve their ability to form and maintain meaningful connections.

1. Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow, Ann Friedman

Big Friendship How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow, Ann Friedman

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Synopsis:

A close friendship is one of the most influential and important relationships a human life can contain. Anyone will tell you that! But for all the rosy sentiments surrounding friendship, most people don’t talk much about what it really takes to stay close for the long haul.

Now two friends, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, tell the story of their equally messy and life-affirming Big Friendship in this honest and hilarious book that chronicles their first decade in one another’s lives.

As the hosts of the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend, they’ve become known for frank and intimate conversations. In this book, they bring that energy to their own friendship—its joys and its pitfalls.

An inspiring and entertaining testament to the power of society’s most underappreciated relationship, Big Friendship will invite you to think about how your own bonds are formed, challenged, and preserved.

It is a call to value your friendships in all of their complexity. Actively choose them. And, sometimes, fight for them.

Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close is a thought-provoking and engaging exploration of the complexities and rewards of deep friendships.

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must-read books about friendship

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