Galentine’s Day: it’s the best day of the year! A day to celebrate all things friendship. The perfect precursor to Valentine’s Day, because we all know friendship sometimes gets sidelined in favor of romance when it comes to media, which is just no good. And yet there are so many great books featuring incredible friend groups that capture the depth and complexity of a good friendship. There’s nothing quite as powerful as that. As someone who has gotten to experience firsthand the power of a good friend group, friendship books — especially female friendship books — really speak to my soul. I know my girls are always there for me, even when things get messy or hard. And there’s something really magical about a story that can capture that.
This year, celebrate Galentine’s Day and female friendship with these 12 great books all about girls and the lengths they’ll go to for each other. From the friendships that endure to the complicated messiness of girlhood friends, within these pages you’ll find female friendship in all its many shapes and forms.
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
An ode to Black girlhood and the friendships that get you through life. Told in flashbacks, Another Brooklyn tells the story of August’s experiences growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s. Filled with lyrical prose and so much heart, this book is a true homage to girlhood friendships in all its wonderful messiness.
The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya
Friendship can be complicated, and few books explore the complexities of female friendship as well as this novel by Vivek Shraya. Neela and Rukmini fall into friendship the way some people fall into love — and make no mistakes, falling into friendship can be just as messy. Each woman is captivated by the other, but internet fame and jealousy come between them in the worst of ways. Their relationship is just as complicated as so many in real life are, and Shraya refuses to sand down the edges to make it more palatable. The beauty is in all those sharp edges.
Girl Squads by Sam Maggs
From female athletes paving the way for future generations to scientists making incredible breakthroughs, this nonfiction book explores groups of women that have profoundly impacted history. Trust me when I say this is a must-read. Not only will you discover the overlooked stories of women throughout history, you’re going to have a great time doing it, too. This book is just so much dang fun. It doesn’t gloss over the sexism and racism that have impacted women throughout history, but by telling these stories it brings light to so many forgotten and unknown women. Truly, a celebration of female friendship. It’s high time you discover your new favorite girl squad.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
How far would you go to save a friend? Prisoner of war “Verity” tells an unreliable tale of her time as a British spy who crash-landed in France during WWII. There is little to no hope of rescue. But the pilot and passenger of the plane that crashed were best friends, and though one may be lost, for the other there is still a chance of survival. As Verity spins her tale, prolonging her inevitable execution, it becomes clear the the lengths a friend is willing to go to save another. Code Name Verity is a hauntingly beautiful tale of friendship and courage in the midst of war.
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
The bonds of friendship between women can become a sisterhood. And for Tavia and Effie, who have lived together and loved each other as family for years, their sisterhood is unbreakable. These two magical girls understand each other better than anyone else. They are there for each other through thick and thin, protecting each other’s secrets and guarding each other’s backs. Everyone deserves a best friendship like this one.
Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
Some friendships come and go, but the truest ones span lifetimes. In 1940s San Francisco, a group of queer women come together and find their place with each other even as the larger world refuses to accept them. In modern times, the last surviving member of that friend group fulfills a promise made decades ago to ensure her friends find the love and peace — and retribution — they all deserve.
Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
If Dumplin’ shined a light on body positivity and self-acceptance, Puddin’ does the same for the messiness of teen friendship — especially between total opposites. Millie and Callie are unlikely friends. One is a long-time fat camp attendee ready to rebel against her parents’ wishes and chase her own dreams. The other, a dance team captain without much luck at making friends with other girls. But when circumstances bring them together, they realize they have more in common than not. But friendship is a choice — and choosing it isn’t always easy. For Millie and Callie, though, that choice will prove so, so worth it.
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
At an isolated school under quarantine because of a strange sickness, best friends Hetty, Byatt, and Reese brave dangerous wildernesses, mutated animals, and terrifying conspiracies to keep each other safe. And when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will go to any lengths to save her friend before its too late.
When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey
This ride-or-die girl gang may dabble in magic, but their real strength is the lengths they would go to protect one another. An accidental magical murder leaves Alexis and her five best friends scrambling to hide a body and deal with the metaphysical consequences. We all have that one friend who responds to “I need help” with “I’m on my way; where’s the body?” Well, Alexis has five. That kind of unquestioning loyalty is at the heart of When We Were Magic, which captures the power, beauty, and terrifying depths of female friendship.
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
If your girl gang doesn’t travel through time to fight the patriarchy, is it even a girl gang? Along with other members of the Daughters of Harriet, Tess searches out the timeline for moments of import where small edits can change the future for better or worse. But secretly, she also has a more selfish goal: to return to her own past to save her teenage friend group from themselves. Best friends can influence each other more than anyone else, and not always for the better. Maybe it’s not too late to change that, though.
In both past and present, Newitz explores the incredible bonds between women. Because together, they have the power to change the world.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Though friendship is not at the center of this fantasy series by the author of Strange the Dreamer, it features one of my favorite friendships in literature: Karou and Zuzana. Their playful banter and deep commitment to each other reminds me so much of my own friendships, and, really, I don’t think you can get through these books without wanting to become best friends with both of them.
This is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi
Like Safi’s first book, Not the Girls You’re Looking For, This is All Your Fault is an homage to the power of friendship (and also Empire Records). With little else in common, three girls — Imogen, Daniella, and Rinn — band together to save their indie bookstore. Unlike so many books exploring established friendship, here we get to see the relationship between these three develop over the course of the book. With a common goal — and adversary — to bind them together, these three become unstoppable.
I’m always here to celebrate female friendship books and talk about Galentine’s Day, and if you’re the same, you might want to check out these 13 feminist books to gift this Galentine’s Day, some great books to gift your girlfriends for Galentine’s Day, and some of our favorite literary female friendships.