A Book About Friendship: Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge 2023

January 27, 2023 | Radha

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Stack of books on a wooden table

What a wonderful way to begin the year 2023 than with the category “A book about friendship”. While most friendships thrive and may even last a lifetime, there are a few that do not run a smooth course. Well, friends do not come in a one-size-fits-all format. It is but natural then that the topic is a goldmine for authors.

Here are a couple of my choices for this category:

Serena Singh

Serena Singh Flips the Script by Sonya Lalli

Serena, an independent South Asian woman in her late 30s, wants to break free from the traditional desi mould that her mother is trying to squeeze her into. While working at her dream job, she develops a strong friendship with one of her coworkers, Ainsley. How that friendship shapes her decisions and makes her rethink some of her past choices, makes for an interesting read. The book is a ‘thumbs-up’ to female friendship and empowerment and provides a peek into other cultures.

Other categories:

  • This is also a book I would recommend to my younger self.


The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya 

This book is about Neela and Rukmini, two unlikable musicians who form a strong friendship despite their different personalities. However, when one friend gains success, the fall-out is ugly and sad at the same time, which reinforces my previous point that friendships may not always run a smooth course and can be prickly, filled with jealousy and volatility. This book very well reflects our present times where social media wars explode in a huge way based on a tweet or subtweet.

Other categories:

  • A book by a 2SLGBTQ+ author who is also part of another marginalized group

Recommendations from TPL staff 

Wash day Diaries

Wash Day Diaries by Jamila Rowser

The author pays tribute to Black sisterhood through this story of Kim and her friends. There are some extremely personal experiences involving black hair care, family rifts, self-care etc.

—Dominika, Senior Public Service Assistant


Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

It's a beautiful story of a friendship between an octopus in an aquarium and the woman who works nights there. Also, the side story of the mystery of how the woman's son died is explored.

—Julia, Clerk Caretaker


Almond by Wŏn-p'yŏng Son

I really enjoyed this book. It is the touching tale of two misfits who are misunderstood by the world around them but are trying to understand each other. The first, Yunjae, has a condition that makes him unable to feel emotions the way other people do. Whereas the other one, Gon, feels too much inside and can't stop himself from getting into trouble everywhere he goes. The story is gripping, the way only powerful and beautifully written stories can be. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

—Monica, Librarian

The Greatest Thing

The Greatest Thing by Sarah Winifred Searle

Three friends come together as they each face tough times to support each other and create a zine together as an outlet to express themselves. Things aren't all wrapped up in a bow, but each is starting on a path toward resolution, at least, by the end. It has a very optimistic, warm feel about surviving hard things, and the art is beautiful. 

Other categories:

  • A book about survival
  • A book by a person living with a non-apparent disability
  • A book that makes you happy

—Alice, Senior Collections Specialist


Sula by Toni Morrison

Two black childhood friends who chose very different adult paths and become something worse than enemies. They ultimately paint a portrait of what it means to be a black woman in America. Published in 1973 yet still relevant today.

—Rochelle, Library Assistant

If I had your face

If I Had Your Face by Frances Chan

Debut novel about five young women living in modern day Seoul, Korea, including an artist, a hair dresser, a former prostitute who works at a ‘room salon’ entertaining rich men while they go on drinking binges, and a young woman who is saving up for extreme plastic surgery so that she, too, can become a room salon worker.

The women are all from humble backgrounds and they struggle in a culture portrayed as classist, male dominated and imposing unrealistic beauty standards, where a woman’s looks can assure her economic success.

The women aren’t always likeable but I loved that they looked out for each other in a world that though may not be out to get them, seems to be designed to assure someone else's success.

An engaging slice of life novel that made me very curious about the culture it portrayed.

—Maureen, Librarian

The Company We Keep

The Company We Keep by Frances Itani

I have already started the challenge with this beautiful book of friendship. Frances Itani is a well known author, mostly known for her book 'Deafening.' I remember my mom read this novel in Greek and she was so, so excited to have discovered a book set in Ontario.

This book is beautifully written about 6 strangers in small town Ontario who meet at a coffee shop every Tuesday to talk about the grief in their lives. What develops are lasting friendships with people who start to care for each other through empathy.

The sadness and grief jump off the page and if you are of a certain demographic, it will resonate with you more as we approach this stage in life and we experience it, one way or another. Highly recommended!

—Despina, Branch Head

Recommendations from the Facebook Group

These are just some of the recommendations from our Facebook TPL RC 2023 Discussion Group. You can read all of the responses in the original post. You do not need a Facebook account to read the suggestions.

French Recommendations

If you like to read in French, check out the list of recommended books for L'amitié - there is a mix of books, ebooks and audiobooks to try!

What would you recommend for "a book about Friendship”? Add your suggestions in the comments section below.