20 Books About the Enduring Bonds of Friendship

Memoirs and biographies about the power of friendship

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'As Always, Julia' by Joan Reardon

Julia Child and her bestie, Avis DeVoto, bonded over cooking, of course: its gadgets, recipes, methods and more. This wonderfully intimate collection (amazon.com) of more than 200 letters sheds light on their lifelong friendship as well as the turbulent creation of Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

'The Best of Friends' by Sara James and Ginger Mauney

"Our friendship should have frayed and broken long ago," writes James in the introduction to this shared memoir (amazon.com) about two women whose careers took them around the world—to Namibia and Nicaragua, to the depths of the ocean and the wilds of the jungle—but whose hearts were always with each other.

'Friends Like These' by Danny Wallace

On the edge of turning 30—and an impending quarter-life crisis—British humorist Wallace decided to locate as many childhood friends as he could find before his next birthday. His long-forgotten pals were scattered around the world, in Japan, Fiji and elsewhere. This is a sweet, entertaining tale (amazon.com) of rediscovering shared memories and making new ones.

'The Girls From Ames' by Jeffrey Zaslow

Jeffrey Zaslow, a Wall Street Journal columnist, took a year off from his job so he could travel around the country to study the 40-year friendship of 11 women from Ames, Iowa. The story is striking in part because a man reports it. He is captivated by the subject both as a journalist and as the father of teenage daughters. He examines the Ames clique from every angle—career, marriage, motherhood—but he also keeps his authorial presence to a minimum. The women, now 45 and 46 years old, open up about coming of age at the height of feminism and the challenges of holding on to friends. The result is richly detailed and undeniably familiar, as if someone narrated your own life story back to you.

— Carmela Ciuraru

'Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad' by May Witwit and Bee Rowlatt

May is a brash Iraqi teacher. Bee is a busy London mother of three. They have little in common, but when an e-mail exchange brings them together, they hatch a friendship—and a daring plan to help May escape the bombings in Baghdad. (amazon.com)

'Let's Take the Long Way Home' by Gail Caldwell

This elegiac memoir of the author’s alliance with writer Caroline Knapp is a testament to the art of female friendship and its necessity. These scrappily independent women came from divergent backgrounds—Knapp was an upper-crust New Englander, Caldwell a child of the Texas Panhandle—but consoled each other over past alcohol abuse, bad love affairs (Caldwell’s) and severe anorexia (Knapp’s). When Knapp dies of cancer, Caldwell wrestles with grief. But ultimately she realizes that "dying doesn’t end the story; it transforms it." —Sheila Weller

'M.F.K. Fisher and Me' by Jeannette Ferrary

Ferrary's friendship with the legendary gourmand began with a letter of fan appreciation. To her surprise, Mary Frances responded to the letter with thanks and an invitation to meet. In this intimate memoir of a young woman's relationship with a famous older chef, Ferrary brings her idol to life. (amazon.com)

'MWF Seeking BFF' by Rachel Bertsche

Bertsche moved from New York to Chicago to share an apartment with her boyfriend. But after getting married, she quickly realized that she missed her lifelong friends, who were scattered around the country. To fill the void and find companionship in the Windy City, she goes on 52 friend-dates over the course of year. Bertsche candidly chronicles the experience in her debut memoir. (Pre-order at amazon.com)

'My Journey with Farrah' by Alana Stewart

Actress Alana Stewart and Farrah Fawcett were inseparable. For 30 years, they relished being "Texas girls" living amid Hollywood glitz and glamour. They navigated rocky tabloid romances, their sons’ drug addictions and career ups and downs. When Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006, Stewart never left her side, traveling with her to doctor’s appointments in Los Angeles and Germany. (amazon.com)

'The Best of Friends: Martha and Me' by Mariana Pasternak

Pasternak and her former pal Martha Stewart met when they were two suburban wives married to successful men. Their bond grew when they both divorced. They shared daily conversations, plans and dreams for the future. But their friendship frayed when Pasternak was called as a witness in Stewart's high-profile trial. This is the story of two women and one devastating friendship breakup. (amazon.com)

'The Girls' by Nina Barrett

Barrett chronicles the lives and shifting expectations of six girlfriends who met in the 1950s. (amazon.com)

'The Lost Girls' by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett and Amanda Pressner

In this enjoyable joint memoir (amazon.com), three friends who are feeling the pressures of growing up (finding a spouse, having kids, getting the big promotion) decide to leave all that behind and set out on an adventure across 60,000 miles and four continents.

'The Soloist' by Steve Lopez

Lopez, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, was in search of a story when he saw Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless, onetime Juilliard student playing a two-string violin on L.A.'s skid row. As Lopez works to find Ayers a home and an outlet for his music, the two form an incredible bond. (amazon.com)

'Three Wishes' by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones and Pamela Ferdinand

Think of this memoir (amazon.com) as The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for grownups. Three friends, each determined to have a baby before time runs out, discover a good-luck vial of anonymous donor sperm. Carey is the first to take steps toward single motherhood. But around the time she finds the perfect donor, she also meets a man, falls in love and gets pregnant naturally. So she passes the magic vial to her bestie Beth, who passes it to Pamela.

'Truth & Beauty' by Ann Patchett

Patchett (Bel Canto)  writes with grace and honesty about her dear departed friend Lucy Grealy, whom she met in college in 1981. (amazon.com)

'What Remains' by Carole Radziwell

Radziwell's beautiful memoir about loss chronicles the death of her husband three weeks after the death of her best friend, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. It's a moving exploration of marriage, friendship and the challenges of starting over. (amazon.com)

'The Friend Who Got Away' by Debbie Levy

This revealing, relatable anthology of essays (amazon.com) about friendships gone bad includes essays about friends who've drifted away, surprise breakups and unhealthy relationships. Look for contributions from writers such as Helen Schulman, Diana Abu Jabar and Katie Roiphe.

'Cheap Cabernet' by Cathie Beck

When onetime teen mom Beck finally had the house to herself after her kids went to college, she was ready to have some fun. In need of friends to hang with in her free time, she put an ad in the paper for a made-up women's group called Wow. To her surprise, eight would-be friends showed up that night. (amazon.com)

'What Did I Do Wrong?' by Liz Pryor

Unexpectedly cut off by her best friend, relationship expert Pryor decided to explore the dynamics of relationships: strong, broken or renewed. The result is a candid, relatable story. (amazon.com)

'You Buy the Peanut Butter, I'll Get the Bread' by Kirsten Poe Hill and Renee E. Warren

Best friends and cofounders of a New York City-based media company share what they learned on the journey from making a personal relationship professional. (amazon.com)

 

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For a slideshow of celebrity self-help books, click here.

First Published September 27, 2011

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K. Lockwood10.20.2011

The power of friendship greatly enhances the quality of life. My memoir, Major League Bride: An Inside Look at Life Outside the Ballpark (McFarland, 2010), offers a unique perspective on the importance of spousal friendships in the highly stressful world of Major League Baseball.

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