12 great books that celebrate the power of female friendship

12 great books that celebrate the power of female friendship

In the wise words of Leslie Knope, Valentine’s Day is about celebrating romance—but Galentine’s Day is about celebrating lady friends.

(Funny thing, I knew this long before I actually watched Park & Rec at your urging last year!)

Today we’re doing just that with these twelve books that celebrate female friendship. I chose titles from a variety of genres, but the common theme is they show the power of strong female friendships. (There are piles of books that revolve around complicated female friendships … and we’re saving those for another day.)

Whether you pick up a novel, a nonfiction book, or a memoir, I hope you find a Galentine’s book you love here. And I hope you’ll share your favorite titles to add to the list in comments.

Galentine's Day: A Book List for Female Friendships
Another Brooklyn

Another Brooklyn

An evocative story of a woman making sense of how moving to Brooklyn as a young girl changed her and her sense of family. Angela, Sylvie, and Gigi are more than August's friends: they’re part of her sisterhood. They go through adolescence together and support each other through tragedy. Woodson's lyrical prose brings the story to life. More info →
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The Invisibles: A Novel

The Invisibles: A Novel

A wonderful exploration of four friends who lived in a group home together and formed a found family they dubbed The Invisibles. But when tragedy strikes after high school graduation, they go their separate ways ... until circumstances bring them back together 15 years later. It's their chance at a do-over, but each must decide it’s worth the risk. Great insights on friendship, as well as the secrets we keep from ourselves and others. (Heads up for themes involving attempted suicide, depression, mental illness, and references to past sexual/physical abuse and loss.) More info →
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The Widows of Malabar Hill (A Mystery of 1920s Bombay)

The Widows of Malabar Hill (A Mystery of 1920s Bombay)

Author:
This historical mystery takes its inspiration from a real woman, the first female solicitor in Bombay. When fictionalized, she becomes Perveen Mistry, whose employment at her father's respected firm doesn't shield her from the prejudices and dangers she experiences as a woman. As Perveen navigates a tricky and dangerous case, her best friend Alice is ever-present, supporting her emotionally and providing practical aid. Reminiscent of Louise Penney with the combination of mystery and the strong relational element of this web of characters. More info →
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Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say

Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say

I adored this book; I wish I could download it into my brain. Kelly talks in depth about how after her friend Liz was diagnosed with cancer, they both pushed past the surface stuff to forge a powerful and enduring friendship. (The dedication page makes me cry every time: "I wish we could have done this together, Lizzard, though in a way, we sort of did.") This book will make you want to be a better friend, and also give you insight into how. Personal, heartfelt, and really really good. More info →
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Not That I Could Tell

Not That I Could Tell

In this domestic suspense, a tight-knit group of women gather around the backyard fire pit, drink a little too much wine, and stay up way too late. By morning, one of them has vanished, and so have her children. As the authorities (and the women) begin to investigate what might have happened, they find they have more questions than answers, and the husband’s suspicious behavior has them all looking over their shoulders. Did their friend simply run away, or was she harmed, and above all—why? Without giving too much away, I'll say that this book examines the lengths women will go to when their friends need help. More info →
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The Garden of Small Beginnings

The Garden of Small Beginnings

Author:
This is laugh out loud funny, tender, and written in a fresh voice, which you might not expect given the premise. Lilian's husband died in a car accident in front of their house four years ago and she hasn’t been quite ready to move on. Lili is no longer stuck in her grief, but she is in a rut, and generally okay with it: life with her daughters is enough. But when she's given a special project at work to illustrate a book about vegetables, she's signed up for their six-week garden class, introducing Lili (and the readers!) to a delightful cast of fellow gardeners. An unlikely community forms, and no one is quite the same by the time the class ends. More info →
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The Gilded Wolves

The Gilded Wolves

This historical fantasy set in 1899 Paris is part heist, part treasure hunt—with a crew of friends at its center. In this world, the Order of Babel rules. Some people are divinely gifted with Forging affinities, allowing them to change or enhance creation. Séverin, the denied heir of House Vanth, delights in reclaiming the items sold off from his House and tracking down Order items for those who will pay him. He’s capably assisted by Zofia, Laila, Tristan, and Enrique. As thrilling as it is to read about their adventures, read this for the way they look out for one another. More info →
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Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

Author:
This novel centers around a complex mother-daughter relationship but it's also about the enduring love of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, a group of friends who stick together through all their ups and downs. Where might Vivi have gone without the Ya-Yas? The story does not shy away from the good, bad, and the ugly, but it's all in service of showing how we can hurt the people we love yet still overcome our flaws and find forgiveness. More info →
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Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship

Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship

Text Me When You Get Home examines the importance of female friendship and is sure to inspire a reflection about how it's impacted your own life. Part memoir and part social history, Schaefer's stories and illustrations show the many ways female friendship has evolved over the years. Don't be surprised if you feel a deep need to call or text your friends to tell them how wonderful they are once you're done reading. More info →
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Knitting in the City series

Knitting in the City series

Author:
This smart contemporary romance series follows a group of seven friends in Chicago, whose relationships blossomed thanks to Knit Night. They rally around each other no matter what's going on and their relationships continue to be a priority even as they each fall in love. Penny Reid's characters have distinct personalities and quirks and it's delightful watching them grow individually and as a group as the series progresses. You'll wish you could be friends with them in real life! (Heads up: the first two books are on the chaste side, but the series grows in steaminess as it progresses and is considered "open door" after book 3.) More info →
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My Glory Was I Had Such Friends: A Memoir

My Glory Was I Had Such Friends: A Memoir

When Amy Silverstein had a heart transplant at age 25 in 1988, her doctors predicted she might live another 10 years at best. Instead 26 years passed, during which time Amy married her husband, lived a full life, and amassed a wonderful collection of friends. Then she learns her transplanted heart is failing and she'll need to undergo another transplant. Ultimately, she and her husband have to relocate to L.A. for several months while she waits for a new heart and nine of her friends decide they will take turns flying out and keeping Amy company while she waits for a heart. This goes on for months! We see not only how her friends relate to one another but also how their bonds grow as they support Amy. A beautiful and loving portrayal of friendship. More info →
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Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

When you think of Anne Shirley, you might be tempted to think of Gilbert Blythe and no one else. (I understand.) But this beloved classic introduced scores of girls to the idea of a "bosom friend" through Anne’s lifelong friendship with Diana Barry. Through the story, we learn about the gift of finding a kindred spirit and how to be a good friend. Countless girls dreamed of finding their own Diana—and perhaps were lucky enough to do so—after reading this series. More info →
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What are your favorite books celebrating strong female friendships? Tell us in comments which titles you’d add to this list. 

57 comments | Comment

57 comments

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  1. Andreína says:

    I was getting worried Anne was not there until I reached the end! This is such a lovely list. The invisibles caught my eye, I just got it!!

  2. Ashley says:

    For those looking for something for their tween to YA daughters and their friends, I would suggest “Just as Long as We’re Together” by Judy Blume. Such a great book on how friendships can (and should) grow and change as we do.

  3. Jen says:

    Sally Clarkson and her daughters Joy and Sarah just came out with a book called Girl’s Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendships in a Lonely World. I’m only a few chapters in but have been so inspired by their message of cultivating authentic friendship.

  4. Cat says:

    Not That I Could Tell has been on my TBR list for a while. And I’m intrigued by the Knitting in the City series because Chicago is my hometown and I miss it. The others sound interesting as well, and a few in particular have also piqued my interest.

    • Stephanie says:

      That caught my eye as well, living in the Chicago suburbs. Being such a major city, you’d think there’d be far more books set here, but it’s always a surprise to me when I see one, because that doesn’t happen too often. Maybe I need to start digging…

      • Cat says:

        Born in Chicago, raised by two Chicagoans! I moved to the D.C. area six years ago and haven’t had a chance to get back to Chicago. I miss it so (especially the food), but at least I can live vicariously through Instagram and good books!

        BTW I checked out your blog and saw that you finished Beartown recently. I actually just picked up a copy of that this weekend! Was happy to see you had some good things to say about it. I think it’ll be my next read.

  5. mary says:

    Year of Yes-Shonda Rhimes. She is a “galentine” any female reader can feel instantly friends with. I loved that her adopted daughter calls everyone “Honey”. She is a cheerleader for women in the work force and life as she tells about her journey of female confidence.

  6. Karen Webb says:

    I would love to add (if I may) the link to my Memoir of Paris « A Stranger in Paris » published in UK in December. The true story of how I ran away to Paris in hot pursuit of my French lover to discover that he had fled… but to meet up with my best friend from school.. and enjoy a very different kind of Parisian adventure – which describes how when my friend leaves the loss is somehow greater.
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stranger-Paris-French-Life/dp/1911293311
    Novelist Elizabeth Buchan said this book is « eye wateringly honest ».

  7. Laura says:

    Angry Women Eating Bonbons by Lorna Landvik was a nice one that explored a book club of neighbors that met for many years. I enjoyed seeing the relationships grow over time.

  8. Debbie says:

    just finished “Since I don’t have You” by Louise Candlish.
    “They were friends who shared everything – until tragedy singled one out.
    At the birth of their daughters best friends Rachel, Mariel and Jenny make a promise: to love and care for each other’s girls exactly as they would their own.
    Six years later and a tragedy has torn them apart. Within weeks, Rachel has packed up and gone. Settling on the beautiful, windswept Greek island of Santorini, she knows she has come to the right place, but as she slowly rebuilds her world she can’t forget the pledge she once made to her friends. She hires a private investigator, the enigmatic Johnny Palmer, and arranges for him to send regular updates on the girls she has left behind. Over the years, with Palmer’s help, she is able to secretly soothe their growing pains – as well as those of their parents. But in Rachel’s new island life far from home, who will be there to guide her? ”
    Loved that it took place mostly in Santorini and also reading about friendships

  9. Nicole says:

    Great list. Would love to add My Brilliant Friend, however. Such a nuanced, complex, beautifully rendered depiction of the good and bad of female friendship.

    • SoCalLynn says:

      I was thinking Anne would probably put this in the list she’s making for “complicated” friendships. I’m on book three and it is a tough relationship.

  10. Ali Cain says:

    “The Invention of Wings” is a great book that looks at the friendship between a slave and her slave owner’s daughter. It’s a historical fiction book based on Sarah Grimke’s life (she was one of the first suffragists and abolitionists) and is a great read!

  11. Emily says:

    Would add any of Jennifer Chiaverini’s books about a circle of friends who quilt – The Quilter’s Apprentice, Round Robin, The Cross-Country Quilters, and several more. Especially great if you are also interested in quilting and/or quilting history. Mostly contemporary, but some are set in earlier times. One member of the group owns a quilt shop; another owns a historic family home and hosts quilting retreats. I have enjoyed these books a lot over the years. Chiaverini has lately branched out into other historical topics.

  12. Karen says:

    The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. And not just Anne of Green Gables, but Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, and Anne’s House of Dreams all focus on female friendships.

  13. Janene says:

    I loved Kelly Corrigan’s Tell Me More! Code Name Verity has been on my TBR forever. I’m putting it on hold a the library today! Thanks for the great list and all the great suggestions!

  14. Sheyenne says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVED Another Brooklyn! I read it after I heard Jacquelyn Woodson speak at a Columbia commencement ceremony years ago. She was just as eloquent, wise and challenging as her writing.

  15. Leah says:

    I’d add Seafire by Natalie C. Parker. It was one of my favorite books of last year because of the way it showed a group of girls who looked out for each other, loved each other fiercely, and are PIRATES! The author said she was inspired in part by “Mad Max: Fury Road” and her desire to break the stereotype that a group of teen girls can’t be friends without someone being catty and cruel. These girls are fierce and vulnerable and kind and strong. It’s so good!!!

  16. I as it appears few others were looking for our beloved Anne. This is a great list. I wonder if you’re able to add a button that would add these books to Goodreads? That would be so amazing!

  17. sallie sparks says:

    I just read ‘Giddy Up Eunice” by Sophie Hudson and it was fabulous! Laugh out loud and yet full of stories about women and their friendships!

  18. Lisa S says:

    I think Snowflower and the Secret Fan would be a great addition to this list. It’s one of my favorite books celebrating a lifelong female friendship.

  19. Ashley says:

    I just finished Firefly Lane and I think it might fit on this list (although, I suppose the friendship was somewhat complicated). Still, overall a nice story of friendship.

  20. Mindy Tipton says:

    I can’t wait to dig into this list! I have to admit I scanned it just to make sure Anne with an E was on the list. Thanks for this post!

  21. Amy says:

    I just finished The Gown: a Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson which has at its heart a beautiful friendship between two women who work on Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. It was a great Audible listen, but trigger warning of violence against women in this book.

  22. jmac says:

    OMG!!! I’m going to read every one of these! And funny,because my post on my blog today was about my BFF, which I met because of the YaYa sisterhood book. I went to high school with the author and became a founding member of a group of international yayas. (My mom was a part of the yayas in book). I made friends from all over the world as a result of that book and still am close to so many after almost 20 yrs.
    Women In Sunlight by Frances Mayes is an awesome read about friendship….she also wrote Under the Tuscan Sun…

  23. I always liked Valentine’s Day – despite overwhelming popular opposition, I’ve been lectured about being a “sucker” more times than I can count – because I think a day to celebrate love of *all* kinds is effing wonderful. I love so many of these books; honestly, I’d rather read about the platonic love shared between two strong and amazing women than a hetero love story any day ❤️??

  24. Ellen Charge says:

    One of my favourites is Charlotte and Claudia Keeping in Touch by Joan Barfoot. It was given to me by a friend who has great taste in books.

  25. Angie says:

    Thanks very much for recommending “The Garden of Small Beginnings.” I enjoyed it every time I picked it up. Love Lili and Rachel and not only their strong sisterly bond, but they are friends, too. Even the minor characters are well drawn.

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