Monday, May 19, 2014

Top Ten Books About Friendship

This week's Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Books About Friendship. I wound up choosing mostly children's books, since those tend to be the ones that present friendship in its purest, sweetest form. Lots of animals, too.

The American Girl Historical Series': I don't know the official name for these series', but I think just about every girl reads at least one of two of them during their childhood. If you somehow don't know about these books, there are a bunch girls, each from a different time period and place, and they all have a series about their lives and the stuff going on in the world around that time. Samantha was always my favorite, because she looked the most like me. She's an extremely wealthy girl growing up in the early 1900's who befriends the servant girl who works next door. All the girls in these books have pretty great-ass friends, and the stories revolve around all those pre-adolescent issues still relevant today while mixing in a good bit of American history. Good stuff.

Winne the Pooh: Come on, now. Who wouldn't put this on their list? This book, along with The House at Pooh Corner are some of most precious, adorable books around. There's a sort of magic to childhood that allows you to befriend your toys, along with the backyard animals, and go on adventures with them, and no one has captured that magic more effectively than A. A. Milne. When they all throw that party for Christopher Robin because he's growing up and moving on? Don't get me started. Don't

Good Omens: I suppose this falls into the "unlikely friends" category. Basically, an angel and a demon team up to prevent the end of the world because they enjoy living on earth and don't want to go home. There's a whole cast of fun characters, a lot of mix-ups and silliness (the Antichrist is accidentally switched at birth and sent home with the wrong family), making for a entertaining and irreverent read. Aziraphale and Crowley, the angel and demon at the heart of the story, are both likable characters with an unlikely but very believable friendship.

The Giving Tree: Heaven forbid you wind up in a friendship like this. The first time I read this book I was quite young. We were at a funeral home, and I found it in an area that was set aside for children to play quietly or read while the adults payed their respects. I was extremely affected by the story of a tree giving up everything for the boy it loved, and even now there's something about that last image of the old man sitting on the stump that just hurts my heart. Still, looking at it from the tree's perspective, the whole thing seems pretty thankless, doesn't it?

Wind in the Willows: There's a particular chapter that made me pick this one, called "Dulce Domum". Rat and Mole have been living together for a while, and are on their way home from something or other when they by chance come across Mole's old home. It's been shut up for a while, and Mole's kind of bummed out and embarrassed when they get there and he sees how plain and run down it looks compared to Rat's house, but Rat just gushes about the place, helps Mole clean up, and by the end of the story they've got a whole party going. It's great to have friends who can sense when you're upset and care about what matters to you, even if it's outside their own area of interest. Rat's a good friend, guys.

Natsume's Book of Friends: A manga about a young boy (named Natsume, oddly enough) who sees spirits, and has spent his whole life being passed from home to home since no one understands his odd behavior. Now he's finally starting to meet people he can be himself around, both human and other-than-human, and throughout the series we see him slowly start to open up and make friends. Some of them know about his abilities and some don't, but this series is as much about Natsume's mundane interactions in the human world as it is about the supernatural. The stories are so sweet and beautifully told, I wish more people read these books.

The Incredible Journey: If you somehow made it through childhood without either reading this book or seeing Homeward Bound, this is the story of two dogs and a cat who are separated from their humans and travel hundreds of miles on their own to get back home. What's amazing about this book is that Burnford was able to convey the bond between these three pets without the use of dialogue. These pets are very much animals, no talking, no spontaneously acting in ways contrary to their nature. Thanks to that, not only do you learn about the animals and landscape, you get a classic story about survival and friendship, all without overly humanizing its protagonists.

Frog and Toad: Basically, the complete opposite of The Incredible Journey. This short series follows a completely anthropomorphic frog and toad as they live their very cute, simple little lives. What else can I say?

A Thousand Splendid Suns: Talk about heartbreaking. Basically, this story spans fifty years, detailing the lives of two Afghan women and the circumstances that bring them together and pull them apart. The two main characters are forced together by outside circumstances, and they find solace it each other. One of my older female cousins lent this book to me when I was in middle school and it's stuck with me ever since. It's a story about resilience and quiet strength and, while at times a bit heavy-handed, it remains a both honest and readable portrayal of female life in this part of the world.

As for number ten, I couldn't think of one. There are obviously other books about friends that I've read, but I wanted to keep this confined to books that were significant to me in some way specifically due to the friendships portrayed, so there you have it. For the most part it looks like I prefer animals friends to people. But I'm sure that's fine, right?


  1. I love that you included Aziraphale and Crowley! I mean, Good Omens is one of my favourite books, and their long confusing hilarious conversations are the best. A Thousand Splendid Suns made it to my list too. Great picks!

    Priya @Tabula Rasa

  2. Good Omens is a great example :)

    Finley Jayne