Top Ten Books About Friendship

May 20, 2014 Top Ten Tuesday 16


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? 

      16 Responses to “Top Ten Books About Friendship”

      1. Cheryl

        What a fabulous list of books. I haven’t read many of these, but I almost included Charlotte’s Web. I tried reading Tolkien’s work when I was younger, but just couldn’t get through it. Might be time for another shot.

        Thanks for visiting The Book Connection.

      2. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

        You’re welcome, and it’s nice to “meet” you! I hope you do try Tolkien again. If you do, bear in mind that The Hobbit is a series of adventures, and more light-hearted, while The Lord of the Rings is really epic fantasy, and turns dark (but not hopeless) pretty quickly. It’s also both denser and more rewarding to read, in my opinion – but not everyone agrees. 🙂

      3. Miraniel

        Great list! I forgot about Laurence and Temeraire. Their friendship is one of my favorites, though.

      4. Krystianna

        The Harry Potter series really did have such a great friendship! The characters just went through so much together and they had such a great bond. Thanks for sharing! (:

      5. Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

        I loved A Lion Called Christian! Have you read any of Joy Adamson’s or George Adamson’s books? They were fascinating people and I wish I could have met George, he’s my hero for taking in Christian like he did.

      6. Stephanie Shepherd

        Brilliant List! The Temeraire series is perfect and it didn’t even occur to me! Also LOTR and Charlotte’s Web. I didn’t even think about animal – people friendships and I’m kicking myself.

        • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

          This topic was so broad that I think lots of people narrowed it either intentionally or unintentionally — sticking to just kids books or just adult books, or like I did, ruling out certain kinds of friendships. Glad you like the Temeraire books!

      7. Mark Baker

        You are so right about the friendships in Harry Potter. That was one of the things I loved about the series.

        Another series with great friendships is Trixie Belden. Trixie has a core group of friends who are always there for each other. Some of the ghost authors do a better job than others with it, but I love the series for those friendships.

        • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

          You know, I’d forgotten about Trixie Belden, but you’re right!. Actually, I never thought of the whole “children’s mystery” subgenre. The Judy Bolton series has some strong, lasting friendships, and then there are Nancy Drew’s chums, Bess and George.

          I always loved that the Judy Bolton series, unlike the others, took place over time — in other words, the MC and her friends grow up, go to college or don’t, fall in love, and even get married. (Yes, Judy gets married, but keeps sleuthing.) It made the series feel more real, somehow.

        • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

          The Temeraire books are wonderful. A bit like a cross between Patrick O’Brien and Anne McCaffrey. The basic premise is alternative-history, with intelligent dragons and their captains and crew functioning as an air force during the Napoleonic Wars. They feel like 19th-century books to some extent — the language and slower pacing certainly fit. But they’re very good and plenty exciting. I love the audiobooks narrated by Simon Vance.

      8. Katherine P

        Great list! I love the Beekeeper’s Apprentice even though I’m WAY behind on the series. I didn’t think of it as a friendship book but you’re so right. The Betsy-Tacey series is one of the children’s books that I’d like to read since I somehow missed it as an actual child.

        • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

          I have to admit that I didn’t finish the series, but the early and middle books are charming. I didn’t discover them as a child either; my stepsister (who did) recommended them to me when my daughter was younger, so I bought the first one and liked it so much, I bought the whole set.