Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books About Friendship.
One thing I realized in putting this together is how little general fiction I read. I tend toward genre fiction, which limits my choices a bit. For instance, while there may be friendships in a mystery or romance novel, it’s rarely the underlying theme or focus of the book. Children’s books and fantasy give a bit more scope when it comes to theme, so my list is dominated by those genres.
I included books where friendship is very important even if the book isn’t exactly “about” friendship. I also decided, rather arbitrarily, not to include books where the friendship is along the lines of a fated or unbreakable psychic link of some sort. (Think McCaffrey’s dragons and their riders, or Lackey’s Companions.) And by and large I disqualified books where the primary relationship is that of siblings, even if they are also friends.
Here are my picks, in no apparent order as usual:
- The Harry Potter series (J. K. Rowling): If this series isn’t about friendship, I don’t know what is. The trio’s friendship lies at the very center of the novels. Harry may be the ‘Chosen One’, but without his friends, Harry literally would not have survived, let alone triumphed. A number of other friends and friendships are important throughout the books, as well: the Marauders; Neville; Luna; Lily and Snape; even Dobby.
- The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien): While this classic epic fantasy is about a lot more than friendship (good vs. evil and the end of the world), the friendships it portrays epitomize the “good” and are crucial to the Fellowship and to Frodo reaching Mount Doom. Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin, Legolas and Gimli and Aragorn: the deep bonds of loyalty and friendship between these men bring out the best in them and give them the strength to go beyond their limits.
- The Temeraire series (Naomi Novik): While there is an element of “imprinting” in the dragons’ love for and loyalty toward their captains, the relationship of Lawrence and Temeraire is first and foremost a deep friendship, one in which both parties must learn, grow, and compromise in order to make the relationship work.
- The Vows & Honor books (Mercedes Lackey): The relationship between oathbound “sisters” Tarma and Kethry is complex and deep, and one in which both parties try to be sensitive of each other’s feelings, needs, responsibilities, and honor.
- The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (Laurie R. King): OK, so I’m as obsessed with this series as I am with Harry Potter. But this book portrays a very unusual, even unlikely, friendship — an uneven one between mentor and apprentice at first, but true partnership between equals by the end. (Not equals in experience or age, but in intellectual ability, yes.) Subsequent books introduce romance, or at least passion (Holmes is not particularly romantic), but the pair’s friendship, their mutual respect, remain the bedrock of their relationship.
- Spindle’s End (Robin McKinley): While I’m not sure I would class it as a book about friendship, Rosy and Peony’s close friendship is a crucial element in both the novel and the breaking of Rosy’s curse. Rosy’s friendship with the smith, Narl, is equally important.
- The Circle of Magic quartet (Tamora Pierce): The four children in this quartet are a) socially, culturally, and ethnically diverse and b) linked by magic. I know I said I was avoiding books where the characters are psychically linked, but what’s great about this series is that the four form tight bonds of friendship that last well beyond the eventual unravelling of their magic.
- Charlotte’s Web (E. B. White): The friendship between Charlotte the spider and Wilbur the pig lies at the heart of White’s charming children’s classic.
- A Lion Called Christian (Anthony Bourke & John Rendall): If you’ve seen the YouTube video, you already know about the extraordinary friendship between two men and the lion cub they raised. The book goes into more depth.
- The Betsy-Tacy series (Maud Hart Lovelace): Really, the whole point of this series is the friendship between childhood besties Betsy and Tacy (and Tib) as they grow up. While the focus is on Betsy and her beau Joe in the later books, it’s mainly on the girls in the first 6 books or so.
What are your favorite books about friendship?