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Book List: Friends–The People Who Know and Love You

Kim Ukura

Staff Writer

Kim Ukura is a book lover, recovering journalist, library advocate, cat mom, and lover of a good gin cocktail. In addition to co-hosting Book Riot’s nonfiction podcast, For Real, and co-editing Book Riot’s nonfiction newsletter, True Story, Kim spends her days working in communications at a county library system in the Twin Cities area. Kim has a BA in English and journalism from a small liberal arts college in Minnesota, and a master’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. When not getting to bed before 10 p.m., Kim loves to read nonfiction, do needlework projects, drink tea, and watch the Great British Baking Show. Instagram: @kimthedork Twitter: @kimthedork

One of the things that is, I think, fun about paying attention to all the new and buzzed-about books is seeing connections between books. I love hearing about an upcoming release and immediately being able to think of two or three other recent books that approach the topic from a slightly different angle, making the topic accessible and interesting to a variety of readers.

My more recent topical obsession is friendship, so I rounded up a list of some upcoming and recent books on friendship and what readers I’d recommend them for.

friendkeepingFriendkeeping: A Field Guide to the People You Love, Hate, and Can’t Life Without 

Julie Klam is really starting to earn her keep writing books about our relationships, first families in Please Excuse My Daughter, next with dogs in Love at First Bark  You Had Me at Woof, and now our friendships in Friendkeeping. Fellow Rioter Rebecca praised this book when it came out, saying that Klam “has this amazing knack for saying the things the rest of us think but won’t say out loud for fear of sounding like horrible people, and when she says them, she manages to be funny and warm and charmingly candid.”

Recommended For: Nonfiction skeptics, fans of women’s magazines and essays




friendfluenceFriendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are by Carlin Flora

Evolutionary psychologists suggest that our need for friends is deeply rooted in our early dependence on other people for survival. Although we don’t tend to think about friendship as seriously today, research has shown that our friends have strong influences on everything from what we read to our sex lives. In Friendfluence (out on Jan. 15, 2013 from Doubleday), Carlin Flora looks at what science says about friends. I’ve only read a few chapters in my galley of this one, but I’m already enjoying it immensely.

Recommended For: Science nerds, fans of narrative nonfiction, living room sociologists




letters to a friendLetters to a Friend by Diana Athill

For many years of her life, renowned editor Diana Athill corresponded with American poet Edward Field about everything from her lover, a Jamaican playwright to her work as an editor for authors like V.S. Naipaul and Jean Rhys. In Letters to a Friend, Athill selected, edited and annotated her letters to offer a portrait of a friendship and a young woman’s career in letters. I’ve read some slightly mixed reviews of this one, but the idea of an epistolary memoir is just too appealing for me not to explore.

Recommended For: Readers who can take some risks, literature aficionados, Anglophiles