I admit, quite unabashedly, that some of my best relationships have been platonic, with my girlfriends. Be it with my childhood friends, college acquaintances turned BFFs, or work besties who make commuting to the office so much more fun, things wouldn’t be the same without my girl group behind me.
If you feel the same way, here are six classics that toast the power of female friendships.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Yes, female friendships are about supporting each other, celebrating highs, and navigating lows together. But we’d be lying if we said we haven’t felt a slight twinge of jealousy toward our girlfriends at some point in our lives. Zadie Smith went further and wrote an entire book based on this complicated emotion. It’s about Tracey and Aimee, two childhood friends in London who dream of becoming dancers, but only one has what it takes. They break off their friendship in their early twenties and move on, but when they meet much later in adulthood, all the mixed feelings come back. We loved this one because it was so real.
My Brilliant Girlfriend by Elena Ferrante
Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels are a master class in female friendship, and the first in the series sheds light on the bond between childhood best friends, Elena and Lila, who were born into poverty and violence in the mid-20th century. They are bombarded with life’s complexities—love, jealousy, and betrayal—but stay connected through whatever storms come their way. The book shows how messy but *totally* fulfilling platonic friendships are with the women in your life.
Sula by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison needs no introduction – her soul-wrenching books focus on human relationships. Sula is no different – it explores the complicated relationship between best friends Nel and Sula, who must navigate their friendship through sexism, racism and personal conflict and the ways they hurt each other in the process. If you’re looking for a tearjerker to make you think of your ex-BFF, this is it.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Most of the books on this list deal with friendship born from contrasts, not similarities. But in this popular novel, Amy Tan chronicles the growing camaraderie between four Chinese immigrants who have one obvious thing in common – they’ve all just moved to San Francisco. This search for familiarity in foreign countries connects the four protagonists. Each time we read this book, we can’t help but root for them as they overcome their joys and sorrows in unity. It will make you appreciate your girlfriends – and the fact that you can always trust them – even more.
The help of Katherine Stockett
You probably saw the movie before you stumbled across the book, but leave any book-movie comparisons at the door before diving into this classic. The story follows four women from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in 1960s Mississippi as they come to terms with the racially charged community they live in and what that means for each of them. All four find themselves in an increasingly dangerous situation and must rely on getting out unscathed. This captivating read moves us again and again.