The best books about female friendship

8 authors have picked their favorite books about female friendship and why they recommend each book.

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The Friend

By Sigrid Nunez,

Book cover of The Friend

A dear and lifetime friend commits suicide. Instead of a note, he bequeaths to the narrator a large and faithful new friend, this one four-legged and furry. I delight in how the narrator gets inside the emotional subtleties of this new relationship and then explores other loves of people for their pets. A delicious metafictional spin to the end of this realistic tale (no spoilers here!) made me go back and read it from the beginning again.


Who am I?

Widowed at age fifty and now eighty-four, I know first hand the search for love in late life. I have three adult children and can't avoid bringing baggage to any new relationship, whether with humans or the cats I adore. Coming to writing seriously only after my husband’s death, I remain fascinated by questions of craft, how the story is told (as my recommendations show), and I’ve published several essays on aspects of that subject. My first career in dance, my conversion to Catholicism, and my psychoanalytic therapy have been major parts of my life and play significant roles in my memoir, my novel, and my more recent novella and stories.


I wrote...

Side by Side but Never Face to Face: A Novella & Stories

By Maggie Kast,

Book cover of Side by Side but Never Face to Face: A Novella & Stories

What is my book about?

In these linked stories Maggie Kast asks, “Can new love be found in old age?” Greta, her narrator, has been wrenched from a long and tightly-circled marriage to Manfred, an Austrian Holocaust survivor. With different backgrounds, they sometimes abrade each other, but the friction strikes sparks, and the marriage remains vital. This book will open your heart to love that endures, transcends fear, dissolves old ideas of desire, and invites new desiring.

Says Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanliness and What Belongs to You, “Maggie Kast has a gift for illuminating her characters’ inner lives, and these beautiful stories, as they shuttle gracefully between past and present, Europe and America, strike a profound and satisfying balance between intimacy and mystery...a wise and powerful book.”

My Rock 'n' Roll Friend

By Tracey Thorn,

Book cover of My Rock 'n' Roll Friend

Musician and author Thorn places Go-Betweens drummer Lindy Morrison in the spotlight in this warm, often fiery book which, as a sometime drummer, I loved and related to very keenly. It is a love letter, as so many biographies are, albeit as much to a friendship as it is to an artist. But it is also a reflection on how women interact, how women navigate the music industry, how creative, clever women (like female biographers!) are often dismissed, trivialised, undermined, even silenced. Women will get great strength from My Rock ‘n’ Roll Friend, and as for men, well, the world would probably be a better place if more chaps connected with this book.


Who am I?

I’m a music biographer, and whenever I’ve hinted that the world of rock biography is a bit of a boys’ club, someone will bark names of famous female musicians who’ve written autobiographies at me. All brilliant, but biography is a different animal. It demands sensitivity, trust, intuition, empathy: the writer is presenting the story of another, wooing a publisher, balancing multiple perspectives, being a detective, asking strange questions, penetrating the skin, probing often forgotten places. Female music writers frequently face assumptions ranging from the dismissive to the salacious before being neatly sidelined, but this is changing – slowly.  I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate some rare queens of the art here.

I wrote...

Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story

By Zoë Howe,

Book cover of Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story

What is my book about?

Musically, culturally and even in terms of sheer attitude, the Jesus and Mary Chain stand alone. Their seminal debut album Psychocandy changed the course of popular music, and their iconic blend of psychotic white noise and darkly surreal lyrics that presaged the shoegaze movement continues to enchant and confound.

Zoë Howe's biography is the fierce, frank, and funny tale of the Jesus and Mary Chain, told by the band members and their associates for the very first time. The story begins in the faceless town of East Kilbride, near Glasgow, at the dawn of the 1980s with two intense, chronically shy brothers, Jim and William Reid, listening to music in their shared bedroom. What follows charts an unforgettable journey complete with incendiary live performances, their pivotal relationship with Alan McGee's Creation Records, and those famous fraternal tensions―with plenty of feedback, fighting, and crafting perfect pop music along the way. It is high time this vastly influential group and sometimes public enemy had their say.

The Thirteenth Tale

By Diane Setterfield,

Book cover of The Thirteenth Tale

I have read this book several times and it’s the kind that swallows you whole. You’ll find yourself consumed into the weird and almost gothic story of Vida Winters – the enigmatic and eccentric millionaire writer with a missing “tale” – and Margaret, the journalist who is hired to uncover all the secrets of her strange life. It’s creepy and shadowy and unique and totally compelling, and you’ll never figure out where it’s going until you’re there: wide-eyed and all-in.


Who am I?

I adore a good plot twist! Honestly, if I have figured out where a book is going I am going to wander off, bored and depressed and a little hungry. There is nothing better for me than to read a well-written tale, think I know exactly where the author is taking me, then BAM I am hit upside the noggin with a twist I never saw coming. I try to incorporate some killer plot twists in my own writings (book 2 especially has some very shocked readers), because I love them so.


I wrote...

Shadows Gray

By Melyssa Williams,

Book cover of Shadows Gray

What is my book about?

Sonnet Gray has problems, and not just those of a typical 18-year-old. Her family is one of the Lost; time travelers who have no power over their journeys. Hopelessly old-fashioned and yet more modern than most girls, Sonnet speaks several languages and takes care of her motley crew back home by working in a coffee shop and playing guitar. Over time, the Lost leave behind those they love and pick up new characters along the way. In twenty-first-century America, Sonnet meets Emme, a Lost young woman with a questionable line of work, Luke, a mysterious photographer, and Israel, a young doctor. But no one can take the place of Sonnet's sister, Rose, who was left behind as a baby in the fifteenth century. The ghost of her beckons from each time and place; but what's real and what isn't? Is Rose Gray trying to contact her before it's too late?

A ghost story with a sci-fi, Gothic romance twist, Shadows Gray will keep you up at night, wondering: is the redemptive power of love enough to change history? 

Wahala

By Nikki May,

Book cover of Wahala

I flew through Wahala. Pacy, suspenseful, and binge-able, this novel did not disappoint; it delivered in all areas. Zany, memorable characters – tick. Messy, complicated entanglements – tick. Tantalising, mouth-watering descriptions of Nigerian food served in south London restaurants – tick, tick. (The author kindly included a few recipes at the back of the book!) Wahala reminded me of how enjoyable reading can be when you find a widely-entertaining book that you can kick back and sink your teeth into. An engrossing, riveting read that explores the complexity of adult female friendships, I highly recommend it. 


Who am I?

Having grown up and gone to school in south London, it will always have a special place in my heart. Call me biased, but I think it’s the best place in the capital. Hands down. I love that it’s home to many Afro-Caribbean families and how its cultural presence can be felt by just walking down any street. From the bustling markets selling plantain, yams, and hard dough bread to the throng of aunties wearing brightly-coloured, patterned lace as they make their way to church. With south London being so atmospheric, I knew I had to include it as a setting in my novel. It will always be my first home.  


I wrote...

Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?

By Lizzie Damilola Blackburn,

Book cover of Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?

What is my book about?

Yinka wants to find love. Her mum wants to find it for her. But how can she find a huzband when she is surrounded by her many aunties who frequently (and loudly) pray for her delivery from singledom, has a preference for chicken and chips over traditional Nigerian food, and a bum she's sure is far too small as a result? Oh, and the fact that she's a thirty-one-year-old South Londoner who doesn't believe in sex before marriage is a bit of an obstacle too...

When her cousin gets engaged, Yinka commences 'Operation Find A Date For Rachel's Wedding.' Armed with a totally flawless (and incredibly specific) plan, will Yinka find herself a huzband? What if the thing she really needs to find... is herself?

The Island of Sea Women

By Lisa See,

Book cover of The Island of Sea Women

Island of the Sea Women is a work of historical fiction that takes place on the island of Jeju in South Korea. Although the focus is on the women divers who harvest the ocean floor for seafood (by hand and with no breathing equipment!!) it is also about connection. First and foremost the idea of connecting one’s heart to forgiveness. This is a theme throughout the book. But also the women’s positive connections to their fellow divers and teachers, their families especially their husbands, nature, and their spirit world burn bright with hope. But their connection to constant loss and pain, a brutal husband, and the invaders from both Japan and the USA combines to make this book unforgettable.


Who am I?

Cultivating connections is Debra Fine’s passion. Her previous life as an engineer and introvert left her longing for connections. Inspired to learn and then teach, Debra’s programs and books are designed to supply the tools and skills for great conversations, networking, and building relationships. Now the author of the bestselling book The Fine Art of Small Talk How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills - and Leave a Positive Impression Debra delivers keynote programs and training workshop to hundreds of clients both face-to-face and virtually.


I wrote...

The Fine Art of Small Talk: How To Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills -- and Leave a Positive Impression!

By Debra Fine,

Book cover of The Fine Art of Small Talk: How To Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills -- and Leave a Positive Impression!

What is my book about?

Nationally recognized communication expert Debra Fine reveals the techniques and strategies anyone can use to make small talk--in any situation. Do you spend an abnormal amount of time hiding out in the bathroom or hanging out at the buffet table at social gatherings? Does the thought of striking up a conversation with a stranger make your stomach do flip-flops? Do you sit nervously through job interviews waiting for the other person to speak? Are you a "Nervous Ned or Nellie" when it comes to networking? Then it's time you mastered The Fine Art of Small Talk.

Emma

By Jane Austen,

Book cover of Emma

Of Jane Austen’s six completed novels, only Emma made me interrupt my reading numerous times to thump my head with the heel of my hand and groan “Oh, Emma, no!” Emma Woodhouse is a contradiction: a spoiled, well-intentioned, bright, unobservant, sometimes ridiculous, shockingly thoughtless, and yet often attractive young woman. I can’t say I loved her, but she was terrifically entertaining. For its sharp-eyed, diverting take on people and society and for the vivid and wonderful creation of Emma Woodhouse, a young woman so wrong and still so endearingly right, Emma is my favorite of Austen’s novels. I’ve read it more than once and laughed (and head-thumped) each time through.  


Who am I?

The 17th and 18th- century female poets who were the focus of my master’s degree thesis in English inspired me to write several true-to-life historical novels with strong, intelligent, and engaging heroines. When I wrote Claire, After All, however, I needed and thought readers might welcome something more light-hearted. Life can be grim and the nightly news distressing. How about a break from all that drama? So as a longtime Georgette Heyer fan and as homage to her delightful romantic heroines, I created Claire Penwarren, a woman who loves her family, makes mistakes but fixes them, and eventually lives happily ever after. No soap boxes. No surprise endings. Just fun. 


I wrote...

Claire, After All

By Karen J. Hasley,

Book cover of Claire, After All

What is my book about?

Claire Penwarren, an organized, intrepid woman, has three assignments in England: 1) Ready Loden Hall for her widowed father, the new earl. 2) Find a husband for her beautiful sister. 3) Acquire a tutor for her rapscallion brothers. At twenty-eight, Lady Claire has had years of experience running her father’s household in India, and these tasks should present no challenge. Older. Wiser. That’s Claire. But to Claire’s bewilderment, nothing and no one cooperates with her sensible plans. Only with the unexpected involvement of her neighbor, the Marquis of Symonton, will Claire discover that while maturity and experience are all well and good, neither is as valuable or as vital as love. 

Claire, After All is a light-hearted tribute to the romance novels of Georgette Heyer.

Mapp and Lucia

By E.F. Benson,

Book cover of Mapp and Lucia

I recommend Mapp and Lucia, first, because E.F. Benson is a hugely underrated humourist, and secondly, because there is a fundamental connection between his Lucia books and Austen’s. The societies are not dissimilar… the styles are both effortless. I recommend any lover of Austen to check out the Lucia books!


Who am I?

I’ve been “big-five-published” in contemporary fiction, Indie-published in speculative thrillers and I – only last year – rejected several publishers in favour of self-publishing books Jane Austen herself might have loved. A Jane Austen fanatic from an early age, I know most of the novels by heart, and appear to have succeeded (to some extent) in understanding her style. My Susan – a unique imagining of Austen’s Lady Susan as a young girl – is both award-winning and bestselling and my Harriet – an imaginative “take” on Austen’s Emma, has just been selected as "Editor's Pick - outstanding" on Publishers Weekly.   


I wrote...

Harriet: A Jane Austen Variation

By Alice McVeigh,

Book cover of Harriet: A Jane Austen Variation

What is my book about?

A highly original new “take” on Jane Austen’s Emma, by prizewinning novelist Alice McVeigh. In Harriet , McVeigh imagines a different Harriet Smith: a Harriet clever enough to pretend to be stupid, a Harriet capable of deceiving Miss Emma Woodhouse – a Harriet with a secret. She shares the story with the mysterious Jane Fairfax. 

“A dynamic take on a revered classic. This is still Austen’s Emma—but the story that unfolds through the recollections of these two “side” characters feels remarkably fresh… With or without an understanding of Emma, Harriet contains a fully formed narrative that should satisfy even the choosiest Austen fans… Readers will rarely find the words ‘page-turner’ and 'Jane Austen' in the same sentence, but McVeigh’s impeccably written Harriet certainly fits the bill.” - IndieReader

The Keeper of Happy Endings

By Barbara Davis,

Book cover of The Keeper of Happy Endings

This book found me and took me by surprise by turning out to be exactly what I didn’t know I needed to read. With two storylines in separate timelines it’s a little bit historical fiction, a little bit about the relationships that change and define our lives, a little bit about healing after loss and then a dash of magic to seal in the heartwarming feels. It’s a story that left me wishing I could spend more time with these characters in their world. And really, what more can you ask of a book?


Who am I?

As a feminist writer, I first gravitated to light female-driven stories in college as a break from the heavy academic tomes I was reading. I tore through the chick lit section of my local bookstores and realized that there was so much more to the genre than I knew or had heard it given credit for. They explored relatable themes— friendship, injustice, love, loss, sex—while being unapologetically feminine and light. For my own writing, I still read a lot of heavy nonfiction about injustice and smashing the patriarchy, but I keep the lightness by blending the heavy stuff with humor—this genre’s specialty.


I wrote...

The Big If

By Sharisse Coulter,

Book cover of The Big If

What is my book about?

Set in the never-dull music industry The Big If takes a deeper look at that gray space in love where compromise crosses the line. When what is expected and what one dreams of can no longer coexist. It’s a story about those moments when life forces us to choose our true priorities and act the part of the person we wish to become. Can Penelope have her dreams and desires satisfied without shattering culturally created boundaries? If choosing her own path means losing stability and comfort, not to mention love, will this adventuress have the courage to throw expectations aside and follow her heart? 

Something Borrowed

By Emily Giffin,

Book cover of Something Borrowed

On her thirtieth birthday, good girl and Manhattan attorney Rachel White sleeps with her best friend’s fiancé. To complicate matters, it’s not just a drunken mistake—Rachel realizes she’s always had feelings for him and learns that he too has feelings for her. With its messy, complicated relationships and deep dive into female friendship, I could not put this book down. This was one of the first “chick lit” novels I read about a single, urban professional woman navigating her career and personal life. And even while I was cringing at some of Rachel’s choices, I admired how honest and flawed the characters were in this story and loved Giffin’s smooth writing style, and have devoured all of her books ever since reading this one. 


Who am I?

I’m an attorney who formerly practiced intellectual property law at large firms in Chicago and San Francisco. Even while I was practicing law, I had dreams of becoming an author. I’ve always been drawn to Chick-Lit, Rom-Coms, and Women’s Fiction, and even more fascinated by other lawyers who made the leap from lawyering to writing in these genres. My debut novel was about a PR executive, but for my sophomore novel, The Trials of Adeline Turner, I couldn’t help but revisit law firm life. While I enjoy reading and writing about lawyers, my favorite thing about these books is their message of following your heart to live your best life. 


I wrote...

The Trials of Adeline Turner

By Angela Terry,

Book cover of The Trials of Adeline Turner

What is my book about?

Thirty-three-year-old corporate attorney Adeline Turner has built her adult life around stability. Her professional life is thriving, but her personal life... not so much. Deep down she wants more, but finds it’s easier to brush aside her dreams and hide behind her billable hours. That is, until a new client and a chance encounter with her high school crush have her taking leaps she never planned. Suddenly, unadventurous, nose-to-the-grindstone Adeline finds herself moving across the country from her predictable life in Chicago to San Francisco, falling into messy romantic situations, and trying to unravel an office-sabotage plot before it ruins her career.

Skios

By Michael Frayn,

Book cover of Skios

On the Greek island of Skios, the philantropic foundation Fred Toppler brings together once a year the scientifical elite. But this summer, nothing works as planned following a suitcase mix-up at the airport. The misunderstandings follow one another, leading the characters to connect with people of other social backgrounds. The pompous and eminent academic Norman Wilfred finds himself trapped in a remote house with Georgie, a nice but limited young woman, when Oliver Fox, a good-looking playboy, deliberately takes Norman’s place at the Toppler foundation, to the delight of the guests. I enjoyed very much the social satire and the brilliant dialogues of Skios. This funny and acidulous book is perfect for reading at the beach. 


Who am I?

I am a french writer, I like to write satires and tongue-in-cheek books about society. Work, children, France, social classes... When you find the right angle almost everything can be funny. With my writing I want to entertain, but give the reader something to think about. I hope this list will make you laugh as much I did. 


I wrote...

The Conquest of the Red Man

By Corinne Maier,

Book cover of The Conquest of the Red Man

What is my book about?

It is a satirical political tale about social classes and about the French obsession with food. My leading character, Corinne Zed, a French bourgeois snob, decides one day to add piquant to her life—rich people are so boring. Nothing could be more exciting than trying to seduce Marco, a leftist who, in a previous life, planted bombs. Not easy to change political tack: Corinne loves pleasures of the palate and why starting a revolution precisely when it is time to drink champagne or eat in a new restaurant (preferably referenced in Michelin)? With the help of her best friend, a trendy and decadent gallery owner, she chases Marco in a mock-heroic adventure. 

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