10 Nonfiction Books on Friendship for Adults

Workman Publishing.

With eight billion people in the world, why is it so hard to meet and make new friends? Navigating the world of adult friendships can be a real challenge when everyone is busy, overwhelmed, or too often too far away. Here to help are Jenn Bane and Trin Garritano, the duo behind the cult favorite podcast Friendshipping and now authors of Friendshipping: The Art of Finding Friends, Being Friends, and Keeping Friends. Insightful, empathetic, and just a touch irreverent, Jenn and Trin give readers the tools they need to make new friends and revitalize the quality of existing friendships.

By far, friendships are some of the most important and least discussed types of relationships we will have in our lives. We lose friends and gain them at different times in our lives, and sometimes at a tragic speed. However, we don’t really discuss the importance of real and meaningful connections that are not familial or romantic.  As someone who has lost a few good friends in this life, either because of time or circumstance, I have certainly felt the pain of losing such a relationship. But I often felt like I lacked the words to express that kind of pain because I did not have a romantic history or blood connection with that person. Now more than ever, these relationships are essential, and it is crucial, especially as we continue to socially distance, to find ways to maintain friendships. If you are either looking to understand the importance of friends to your mental and physical health, or looking for ways to make new friends, or maybe you just want to be more present in the lives of those you already have, this list of nonfiction books about friendship is for you. In it, you will see a wide range of books, from mini-biographies of historical friendships to how-to guides based on ancient philosophy, and lots on how to nurture these relationships. 

The Book of Moods by Lauren Martin

As someone who has struggled with understanding my own anxieties and stress surrounding social interactions, this book was a perfect read! When it comes to friendships, Martin discusses at length how we tend to project these anxieties onto these relationships, either through unanswered text messages, growing apart, or misunderstandings, which sometimes cause us to isolate ourselves from our friends and eventually lose these key relationships. I would highly recommend this book if you want to know more about communicating your feelings better and maintaining long-lasting, clear communication.

Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Saw and Ann Friedman

Hosts of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, Saw and Friedman talk honestly about the many complicated and happy feelings that come with friendships. This book takes an honest and loving view of how we can all appreciate the relationships built through friendship. 

The Art of Showing Up by Rachel Miller

Sometimes one of the hardest and most important things to do in any relationship (including with yourself) is just to show up. In this book, Rachel Miller discusses the many ways that we can at least just be there by showing up for our friends and ourselves, and how this can be the essential first step to building long-lasting relationships. 

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead  by Brené Brown   

At this point, Brené Brown needs no introduction; the woman is a powerhouse. However, I chose this book for this list because I believe it is a great guide if you are trying to cope with these difficult times, especially when maintaining friendships and relationships. Vulnerability isn’t easy, and having someone like Brown to guide you through it can really help.

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell book cover

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

Have you ever felt awkward when trying to meet new people? Especially once you are removed from school or university, it becomes exponentially difficult to meet and make new friends. So if you want something a little bit more exciting than the classics of the genre, this is a book for you. It includes stories about political intrigue and espionage, which, let’s be honest, makes trying to make new friends more exciting. 

The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women’s True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away edited by Jenny Offill

Friendship breakups are just as hard as, if not at times more than those in romantic relationships. We may be confronted by it several times in our lives, leading us to think about how we could have prevented situations involving the friend that got away. In this wonderful essay collection, several women talk about lost friendships, and everything from moving away to bad fights or even careless indifference that ended those relationships, and what they learned from them. 

girl squads book cover

Girl Squads by Sam Maggs  

A historical and fun look into some of the most incredible female teams, partnerships, and friendships throughout history, this is a book that will give you inspiration and have you looking at your own friend group with a renewed sense of love for them. Girl Squads is also a perfect gift or book club pick since it’s one of those books that offer endless historical factoids. 

How to Be a Friend: An Ancient Guide to True Friendship by Marcus Tullius Cicero

This is a collection of writings by the ancient Roman philosopher Cicero on friendship, with a lot of timeless advice or just pondering on what truly makes a friend. If you enjoy the classics, or just want to see how views on friendship have either changed or remained the same, this is a wonderful short read. 

Work Wife: The Power of Female Friendship to Drive Successful Businesses by Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur 

As I think you can gather from the title, this is a book about harnessing friendship in all aspects of your life, but more specifically at work. Cerulo and Mazur talk about their own experience of opening a business together as longtime friends with a more entrepreneurial perspective. They also use several different examples of work wives and their business and how they thrive through friendship. 

Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less by Tiffany Dufu 

Like the first title in this list, Drop the Ball isn’t a straightforward book about friendship. Still, it has some of the best lessons on how to maintain any good and healthy relationship in your life. I believe this is one of the most recommended books about self-care and constructive relationship management. So if you are someone who struggles with too much emotional overload or responsibilities, this is the book for you.