Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Top Ten Books About Friendship

I am more enamored with my friends right now than almost ever before. The strength and dignity of my grow-up-best-friendships astound me. In particular, my two best friends are absolutely my rock. They keep me in check, which is no small feat. Individually, we have been through some of the roughest experiences women can face, but we've held each other up, sometimes literally and always figuratively. These women are the greatest influence on my life, and I can never repay them for the support and guidance they have provided me.

But even beyond the besties, I have some pretty amazing friends. I am blessed that many of them are my co-workers. And even on days like today, when the answers aren't easy and I'm squinting my eyes to will away imaginary battle lines, I love them all. 

With an intro like that, suffice it to say that this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic was a timely one. 

Top Ten Books About Friendship 

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Like most phenomenal books, this one can't really be "categorized," I think. It almost seems a disservice to its essence to boil it down and say it is a book about friendship when it is about that and so much more. But at its core, I feel like this story of the Holocaust, narrated by Death himself, is about unlikely friendships and the heights to which they allow our hearts to soar. 

2. Looking for Alaska by John Green. I'm not trying to double-dip by using a book from last week. I tried to diversify. But the friendships depicted in this YA stunner are just too gritty and honest to overlook. 

3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. A toddler wanders into a graveyard and is befriended by ghosts who raise him into young adulthood. The coolest friends ever. Makes me think a little of this movie The Box Trolls that I can't wait to see. 

4. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This is one of my favorite books of all time. The protagonist helps customers in a florist shop communicate with others through the near-forgotten Victorian language of flowers. She gains friendship, love, and insight along the way. Beautiful. 

5. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. I was the kid who created imaginary worlds in the woods to entertain herself and her friends. The kids in this book lived my childhood, but more poignantly and more tragically. The title itself evokes a feeling of childlike wonder. Love. 

6. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales. Though it starts out as a story of bullying and isolation, the plot and character development quickly reveal the redemptive power of friendship, particularly friendships forged through music. The accompanying playlist is pretty stellar, too. 

7. The Pact by Jodi Picoult. Gah. My first Jodi Picoult book, the one that would lead me to read every book she ever wrote. Grown-up friendship, childhood friendships, teenage friendships...it's all here friendship-wise. I vividly remember being sprawled across my bed on my belly, the thick mass-market paperback cramping my hands as I devoured the ending to see what would happen. And I would be lying if I didn't also vividly remember the tears. All the tears. 

8. The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni. Again with the unlikely friendships, I know, but the quirky relationship that develops between to polar opposite boys as they form a punk rock band is filled with ups and downs to match their amateur attempts at guitar riffs. And again, like all great books, this one also begs us to consider philosophical quandaries, like: at what point do we end our obligations to our family members and their legacies to create our own? 

9. 34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues.  This one reminds me a lot of Thirteen Reasons Why. But when these teens are left to piece together the secret life of their friend Ellie, it brings them all closer together, even while exposing the darkest parts of their individual stories. 

10. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. Okay, so there's love and supernatural elements and action and stuff, too. But don't you think Simon and Clary are pretty awesome friends? And the friendships that evolve between these two and the rest of the gang end up being just as enviable. 

And that's saying a lot, considering I've got the best friends on the non-fictional planet. :-)

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