Playlisted

The Best Audiobooks on Friendship to Deepen Your Bonds

From novels about lifelong friends to self-dev listens about maintaining strong relationships, these are the best audiobooks on friendship.

Friends are the family we choose. When we’re going through hardships or have something to celebrate, our friends are often the people we turn to first. So much of literature, art, music, and film is dedicated to romantic love, but the love between friends can be just as (if not more) rewarding. Of course, plenty of authors are writing about friendship, in all its many forms. Here is our list of the very best audiobooks about friendship, from self-development and general nonfiction to novels and memoirs.

 

Self-Help Audiobooks About Friendship

Big Friendship

Big Friendship

The best self-help audiobooks are often a mixture of personal experience and practical, applicable advice. Real-life besties and Call Your Girlfriend podcast hosts Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman offer both in Big Friendship. While close friendships are often the most important relationships in our lives, most of us don’t spend much time considering what it takes to foster and sustain them. True friendship (what the authors call “Big Friendship”) overcomes all obstacles: distance, time, emotional shifts, and everything else life throws your way. The authors reflect on how their own relationship has withstood many of these challenges as well as interview friends and experts on the subject of friendship. Ultimately, Sow and Friedman come to the conclusion that friendship is about making an investment in another person and actively choosing them over and over again. The authors narrate together, and their heartwarming narration has brought some listeners to tears.

The Art of Showing Up

The Art of Showing Up

In this audiobook, Rachel Wilkerson Miller examines the difficulties of adult friendships. When we reach adulthood, so much gets in the way of making time for our friends. What’s more, today’s digital age discourages friendly practices like casual phone calls or just dropping by to check in on people. The Art of Showing Up offers a roadmap for fostering more meaningful relationships with your friends and all the people in your life who matter. The author really gets to the heart of how important it is to “show up” for others, to make the people you care about feel seen, heard, and valued.

 

Memoirs About Friendship

Truth & Beauty

Truth & Beauty

From the best-selling author of Bel Canto and The Dutch House, this Truth & Beauty is a memoir about the strength of female friendship. In this listen, Ann Patchett recalls her friendship with the late Lucy Grealy, an Irish American poet and memoirist. Grealy and Patchett met in college in 1981, and later enrolled in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop together, forming a friendship that would inspire both of their work and create an enduring bond. Their friendship spanned 20 years, overcoming fame, hardship, drugs, love, and loss. And at every turn, they took on life’s challenges knowing they had one another’s support. This is a tender story of friendship that is also heartbreaking. Ann Patchett narrates this deeply personal listen with melancholy and genuine love.

Let's Take the Long Way Home

Let's Take the Long Way Home

Let's Take the Long Way Home is another memoir about two women writers — this time, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp, the author of *Drinking: A Love Story*—who became great friends and one another's support system. Caldwell was in her early 40s and taking her spirited puppy, Clementine, for a walk when she ran into Knapp and her dog, Lucille. In a flash, the two middle-aged women forged a friendship, joyfully celebrating their differences and discovering the experiences, including struggles with alcoholism and loneliness, they had in common. Then in 2003, Caroline was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. Caldwell’s story of losing her best friend is full of heartache and honesty.

The Hot One

The Hot One

The final memoir on this list, The Hot One is a story of friendship and tragedy. Carolyn Murnick and her childhood best friend, Ashley, grew up together in rural New Jersey in the 1980s. But as they got older and attended different high schools, their lives went in entirely different directions. Carolyn felt like an outsider, while Ashley became one of the popular girls in school. After high school, Carolyn attended college in New York City, while Ashley moved to Los Angeles to work as a stripper and escort. At age 22, Ashley’s life came to a shocking end: she was murdered in her Hollywood home. Reeling from the death of a woman she had known since girlhood, Carolyn heads to Los Angeles to find out what happened to her friend and learn more about the life Ashley led there. A work of both memoir and true crime, Murnick’s story is also an examination of the way women are pegged and pitted against each other. By thinking of herself as “the smart one” and her friend as “the hot one,” Carolyn created divides in her friendship with Ashley, which she can never repair. Earphones Award winner Hillary Huber narrates this gripping and moving listen.

 

General Nonfiction About Friendship

Friendship

Friendship

If you’re interested in the science of friendship, then you won’t want to miss this fascinating listen. Through field biology and cutting-edge neuroscience, author Lydia Denworth examines the biological, psychological, and evolutionary foundations of friendship that make it a universal phenomenon. Ultimately, human beings were made to make friends, and our drive for friendship is what fuels society. Denworth’s upbeat examination of friendship and human nature will make you want to text your friend just to say, “Hey, thanks for being you.” Narrator Tiffany Morgan brings the perfect mix of warmth and matter-of-fact attitude to fit the tone of Denworth’s writing in Friendship.

Text Me When You Get Home

Text Me When You Get Home

In comparison to Denworth’s Friendship, journalist Kayleen Schaefer’s Text Me When You Get Home is more interested in sociology than biology. Specifically, Schaefer examines the sociology of female friendships, how they’ve evolved over the years, and how they’ve been portrayed in pop culture. Schaefer interviews more than 100 women about their friendships and the women in their lives who lift them up. She also looks at her own history with female friendships as she struggles against the traditional narrative that women need men to support them. In fact, Schaefer reflects that her relationships with women have been the most supportive in her life. Narrated by the accomplished Lauren Fortgang, this audiobook is an important look at the ways in which women have learned to value one another and lift each other up in friendship.

 

Novels About Friendship

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini’s critically acclaimed novel focuses on the friendship between two boys growing up together in Kabul. Though raised in the same household, Amir and Hassan come from two very different worlds. Amir is the son of a wealthy man; Hassan is the child of Amir’s father’s servant. Set against the backdrop of a country in unrest, The Kite Runner tells the story of the enduring power of friendship against class and racial divides, the passing of time, and physical distance. Even after he and his father flee the country, Amir finds it difficult to start a new life in California when his friend Hassan has been left behind. This compelling listen is made even more captivating by the author’s narration of his own work.

Swing Time

Swing Time

Here is another novel about childhood friends destined for very different lives. Two brown girls both dream of being dancers. But only Tracey has real talent. Her friend (who is unnamed throughout the novel) has big ideas—about not only rhythm and dance, but also race and culture and freedom—and burning ambitions. Their friendship ends abruptly in their early 20s, but the two women’s stories remain connected as life takes them from London to West Africa and through disappointments and revelations. Pippa Bennett-Warner’s expert, nuanced narration has received acclaim from critics and listeners alike. With Zadie Smith’s brilliant prose and Bennett-Warner’s vivid performance, Swing Time is an audiobook you won’t want to miss.

Sula

Sula

To listen to Sula is to know you are experiencing a contemporary classic, wonderfully read by the Nobel Prize-winning author herself. Toni Morrison tells the touching, tragic, and complicated story of Nel Wright and Sula Peace, two girls who meet as children in the small town of Medallion, Ohio. Bound by genuine affection and the burden of a dreadful secret, they remain good friends throughout their childhood and into their young adult lives. Then, on Nel’s wedding night, Sula disappears. Ten years later, Sula returns, but she is changed. Sula becomes a pariah in the community, and her friendship with Nel is put to the test.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a story of female friendship set in 19th-century China, where women’s lives are defined by seclusion and strict rules. Craving communication, the women in a remote Hunan county create their own secret language, called “nu shu,” or “women’s writing.” Some girls are matched with laotongs or “old sames,” meant to remain their friends for their whole lives. In this way, women are able to reach out from their isolation and find connection with other women like them. The story is told by Lily who, at 80 years old, looks back at her relationship with her laotong and recounts their secret messages and conversations, written on fans.

Girls Burn Brighter

Girls Burn Brighter

Another powerful coming-of-age story of friendship, Girls Burn Brighter is set in both India and America. Poornima and Savitha are two young girls with the odds stacked against them. But their spirit and drive make it so they are unable to quietly accept their lots in life. Poornima and Savitha both have dreams of escaping to a better future, but they set upon very different journeys to get there. This story is at times brutal, but the enduring power of these girls’ friendship and their unwavering strength through difficult situations is touching and inspiring. Girls Burn Brighter is narrated by Soneela Nankani, whose tone perfectly matches the dichotomy of hope and heartbreak presented in the story.

My Best Friend's Exorcism

My Best Friend's Exorcism

My Best Friend's Exorcism is one of my favorite horror novels of all time—and not just because it’s legitimately scary. Set in 1988 in Charleston, North Carolina, Grady Hendrix’s novel follows the story of a group of high school friends and a demon that terrorizes them. But at its center, it’s the story of two friends, Gretchen and Abby, and the power of their friendship is what really makes My Best Friend’s Exorcism unforgettable. Underneath the scares and laughs, this is a listen about a friendship so strong it can even exorcise demons. Audie-nominated narrator Emily Woo Zeller brilliantly captures the ’80s nostalgia, humor, horror, and sentimentality, without ever going too over-the-top or sliding into melodrama.

A Little Life

A Little Life

No list of friendship-themed listens would be complete without Hanya Yanagihara's critically acclaimed novel. A Little Life follows the story of a group of four friends—Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, an artist; Malcolm, an architect; and Jude, an attorney—who move to New York full of ambition and hope for the future. But Jude is forever haunted by the traumas of his past, and his suffering has a lasting impact on his friends, the people who care about him the most. This audiobook features the talents of Oliver Wyman, a voice actor and narrator who has won five Audie and 19 Earphones Awards. Wyman has called narrating A Little Life a “devastating” experience, and his emotional connection to the novel is clear in his performance.

 


 

Emily Martin earned her PhD at the University of Southern Mississippi. She also works as a contributor for Book Riot and as a blogger/podcaster at Book Squad Goals.

 

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