The best books on how sisters are great but also a pain in your ass

The Books I Picked & Why

King Lear

By William Shakespeare

Book cover of King Lear

Why this book?

When I first sat down to write a novel about three sisters, step one was to reread King Lear which is about exactly that. The three sisters in Lear are quite different from mine. Among other things, they like each other much less. But for that delicate sisterly balance between so-glad-I-have-you-to-share-the-burdens-of-an-aging-parent and I-might-actually-have-to-kill-you, nothing beats King Lear.

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The Vanishing Half

By Brit Bennett

Book cover of The Vanishing Half

Why this book?

The twin sisters in The Vanishing Half share nearly everything and nearly nothing, which is a neat trick. They share a past – same childhood, same family, same upbringing, same community, same home, the same face even – and yet grow into adults who share none of the above nor even the same racial identity, never mind class, values, family, or future.

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Sense and Sensibility

By Jane Austen

Book cover of Sense and Sensibility

Why this book?

Jane Austen was close with her sister and often has entire plots which hinge on the fact that you love your sisters, but also they drive you nuts and ruin your life and prospects, but also you’re probably sharing a sewing project or a bed or nearly dying together from doing something reckless like going for a walk in the rain. No one’s better than Austen on the way you’re stuck with your sisters so better learn to treat them with wry bemusement rather than apoplectic rage.

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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

By Karen Joy Fowler

Book cover of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Why this book?

I wouldn’t dare spoil what makes the sisters in We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves so special. You have to come upon it in the course of reading this absolutely perfect novel. But in the deepest, best, hardest, most unusual way, this is a novel about sisters – sisters in childhood, sisters as they grow, sisters as they become very different sorts of adults and make their way in the world together and apart.

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Girls Burn Brighter

By Shobha Rao

Book cover of Girls Burn Brighter

Why this book?

The sisters in Girls Burn Brighter aren’t related by blood or family or tradition or history. They are sisters in ways much more profound and important and life-changing and path-determining than that. This beautiful novel traverses continents and cultures to prove blood ties and family ties have nothing on sister ties.

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