ALL OUR FAVORITE BOOKS ABOUT FEMALE FRIENDSHIP
Intro: [00:02] Welcome to the Readerly Report. Your hosts are Gayle Weisswasser and Nicole Bonia. We hope you enjoy our candid book conversations, recommendations and observations on the reading life. Thanks so much for joining us.
Nicole: [00:20] All right. So welcome to another edition of the readerly report. Today, Gayle and I are going to be discussing, what are we discussing Gayle? We are discussing friendship, women and friendship. And before we start this episode, I would like to preface it by saying that, you know, Gayle and I sometimes our schedules do not overlap and it’s hard for us to find time to record an episode so what we’re doing is we are recording, we have a few episodes that we’re recording that I’m calling our back pocket episodes, which means that we record them out of time so that if we ever run into a time where it’s just not going to work that we’re able to get an episode up on Thursday, we have something to put up.
Now, so because of that this is not going to follow our normal format. Because usually when we do this, and we record out of time that I get all confused, because it’s not an order how we talk about books, like we’ll be talking about books months later, when we’ve already finished those books or whatever that’s weird, so I want to avoid all of that. So for these shows, I think we instead of talking about what we’re currently reading, or we just finished, we will talk about in the beginning a backlist book that we’re really excited to revive people’s interest in and encourage you to read if you missed it the first time around. And then we’re going to have our regular theme for this show, which this time is going to be female friendship.
Now, the way we usually work it is that Gayle and I we pick on a topic and if there’s something specific or in particular that either of us needs to look for, we specify it, but we do not share what titles we’re coming up with. And for something like this when I say women friendship, we did not really define, you know, female friendships, we didn’t define what those friendships to be like. So it could be toxic female friendships, it could be heartwarming female friendships, I have no idea what Gayle was going to say. And I have a couple of different types of friendships. So there’s that.
Gayle: [02:39] And I’m going to be fair, I’m going to be honest here that some of the ones I have are not just female friendship. There may be male-female friendship.
Nicole: [02:48] Gayle, um, no. That’s not female, friendships.
Gayle: [02:54] Well, I know. Okay there’s one I’m sliding in that is one of my favorite, just friendship books.
Nicole: [03:03] So why don’t you use that as your backlist book?
Gayle: [03:07] Oh, I can do that.
Nicole: [03:09] I mean, that’s so off topic, female friendships. But here’s this male female friend.
Gayle: [03:15] All right.
Nicole: [03:17] All right. But, oh, okay. So do you want to start off with that book?
Gayle: [03:21] Uh no, that’s okay, I’ll start out with other ones. Because I had actually had trouble finding, I have trouble finding books that were just two people. I had a few but I had trouble like, I just find the
Nicole:[03:36] Well I just don’t think they had to be like two females. I mean, you just read a book, female friendship wasn’t that book that you just read with the 4 friends?
Gayle: [03:43] Yeah, yeah that’s definitely one of them.
Nicole:[03:46] Yeah, its female friendship.
Gayle: [03:47] Right. I guess, I just
Nicole: [03:48] Doesn’t have be 2 females.
Gayle: [03:50] I just have trouble finding ones that were only women. I thought it would be easier and I was kind of racking my brain and looking over my shelves and looking through my blog. And I just ended up finding one that had that had a boy thrown in the mix too. There were female friendships, and the female friendships were pivotal. But,
Gayle: [04:12] Yeah,
Nicole: [04:12] But there’s this boy.
Gayle: [04:13] There’s also a boy in the mix, too. Well, why don’t we just why don’t we see what we get to
Nicole: [04:17] Okay, all right. That’s fine. That’s fine. All right. So do you want to start off with our backlist books, or do you want to start off?
Gayle: [04:23] Yeah let’s start out with the theme. Let’s start with the theme. And I’ll start out with the one that fits the theme beautifully.
Gayle: [04:30] It is a book called Days of Awe by Lauren Fox. And this is one of the fav my favorite books of the year in the year I read it, I think it was like 2016. And this is an interesting one because one of the friends is dead. It’s about a woman who is going through a really tough time like she’s just gotten divorced, her very best friend has died and her friend was a huge, huge part of her life was sort of an outsized character very charismatic, had a lot of personality, and she, but she passed away. So she’s dealing with the grief of this friendship, and it’s kind of permeating her life and just exacerbating her loneliness. And there’s a lot of history of their friendship and why her friend was so pivotal to her and why she was so important and why she feels loss so keenly, and how that loss then triggered the other things in her life, like her divorce from her husband and there was also some infertility in there. And then she’s got this young son, and she’s sort of trying to be a mother while she’s grappling with this. And it was just one of my all-time favorite books, I love Lauren Fox, and I feel like it did not get a lot of attention at the time. And I’m always trying to give it more attention, because I just thought it was so good. But
Nicole: [05:56] It’s the runner up to kitchens of the great Midwest.
Gayle: [05:59] Exactly. But because that friendship was so pivotal to her, it defined her so much, it still felt like the friendship was very much a part of the book, even though the character wasn’t there. So, you know, I think one of the things that one of the themes that often come up in friendships books are loss of the friendship, whether it’s through, they grew apart, or whether it’s through, you know, change of circumstance and in here, it was through deaths, and I thought she handled it really well. So that is my first pick.
Nicole: [06:37] So my first one is Swing Time by Zadie Smith. Now I’ve talked about Zadie Smith and how much I’ve wanted to read her books and have not really had much success with them. I tried to read White Teeth didn’t really get into it that much. Think on Beauty is her collection of essays. So this was the first novel of hers that I was really able to get into and appreciate read all the way through, I really liked it. It is a story of two young girls who meet each other at dance class. And they are both their young black girls. So they recognize each other in the world of ballet, like it book goes into detail and the beginning it talks about how they’re both the same shade of brown and one is a better dancer and has more talent than the other. And one
of them comes from sort of more difficult circumstances than the other. So the book, they are French, they are friends but as can often be the case with friends, you know, if you’re doing something if you’re in a sport like, or if you participate in the activity, like dance or like ballet, there are elements of competition there. They’re not always friends, like their friendship ends when they are in their early 20s. But it does trace the I will say the less, less talented one throughout and how she interacts with this friend, you know, who I guess at some point sort of becomes a frenemy. It’s just about their fraught relationship over the years, what she chooses to do with her life when she doesn’t dance and ultimately, what happens with her friend who had so much talent and so much promise. So it was really good.
Gayle: [08:24] That’s an interesting twist on friendship when you throw competition in.
Gayle: [08l29] When you throw that you’re both kind of working.
Nicole: [08:31] And when you think about ballet, which is not, you know, of all the things I think that little girls can be involved in, ballet seems like it’s super competitive and you know, partially I guess shaped on talent, natural talent and probably physicality. Like literally what size you are.
Gayle: [08:51] That reminds me of another book, which has very strong female friendship elements to it in the world of ballet, which is Astonish Me by Maggie Shipston.
Nicole: [09:00] Mm hmm.
Gayle: [09:01] Which has some very intense relationships at its core, and they’re among ballerinas and, you know, like you said that intense physicality and the, I think the problem with ballet, of course, it’s not a team sport. So, you know, usually one person succeeds,
Nicole: [09:16] Pure jockey to be best.
Gayle: [09:17] Right. One person success usually comes at someone else’s expense. And so, you know, having two people that are have shared so much common experience when the all the intensity of the long hours and the practice and the deprivation and all that physical pain, and yet you can’t truly root for each other. And that the element that that brings to a friendship, I think can be really interesting. So it’s unsurprising that that becomes like a fertile topic for fiction.
Nicole: [09:49] Yeah, I mean, when you think about it to just in pop culture, the ballerinas there’s always crazy things going on. Like when you think of a black swan or
Gayle: [09:58] Yeah
Nicole: [09:58] Or if or even just Look to real life not ballet dancing, but with figure skating. How
there was that whole Nancy Kerrigan, yes. I can’t think of her name
Gayle: [10:10] Yeah, Tonya Harding. Yeah. Although they don’t think they were ever actually friends. I mean, they were peers.
Nicole: [10:16] Well, they weren’t friend but I’m just talking about the competitive I guess the,
Gayle: [10:20] Sure.
Nicole: [10:22] Just the intensity and just some of the, some of the I don’t know like, yeah, I guess the things that you do out of that intensity, things that in, I don’t know, because when I start thinking about movies and pop culture references to sports, they all just seem so dangerous and competitive. Like, even when you think about Will Ferrell making that movie about dodgeball or whatever, It’s just people trying to hurt each other.
Gayle: [10:55] Yeah. Yeah. Um, yeah, I know, it’s interesting sports is like a good setting for competition.
Nicole: [11:05] And then I think Megan Abbott had one. It wasn’t ballet, it was gymnastics, like gym, you know, competitive of the being a gymnast, you know, all something that size has a lot to do with how successful you are. And I guess natural talent and a competitiveness yet the friendships between those girls, and
Gayle: [11:26] Yeah.
Nicole:[11:27] What was the name of that one? I think it was Dare Me.
Gayle: [11:32] Yeah, I never knew that one. All right, well, so my next one, I’m actually going to combine two books by the same author in this one, because I think she handles friendship really well. And that is Meg Wolitzer, who wrote both The Interestings and The Female Persuasion. And her books are really, really strong character studies, I think, of friendship. So in
The Female Persuasion, there is a friendship between college roommates or called college, good friends from college and how their lives sort of diverged over the years and how they kind of hold each other to their beliefs and their idealism. And then her other book, and this is one of the ones that has cemented, but is The Interestings which is about a group of friends coming out of summer camp. And there’s definitely strong female friendship elements in that one although there I would say the probably the most pivotal relationship in there has to do with a boy. But she just really delves in to the complications of friendships, and certainly how they, how they weather the years from adolescence into adulthood, and how people’s, you know, expectations for their friends change over time, how people incorporate into their friendships, when they may be started on similar footing, but they end up in different places, either professionally, or financially, or you know, some other way and I just think she’s, I think that’s like her wheelhouse, which she’s really good at. So that’s one of the ones that has multiple gender in there. But I just think if we’re talking about friendship, you can’t have a conversation about it without my bullets are in there. You’ve read female persuasions, but did you also read the interesting?
Nicole: [13:37] I didn’t read the interesting. Gayle: [13:39] Okay.
Nicole: [13:40] Yeah, I read Female Persuasion. I read the 10 Year Nap. And I read The Wife. I think are on my Meg Wolitzer titles
Gayle: [13:51] Right. What’s like, what’s good about The Interestings, too, and it goes back to league similar to what we were just talking about with sports, It has to do with when you’ve got artists, friends, who are artists, and who also achieved different levels of success. And, you know, how do you sort of suppress your feelings of envy, if your friend has kind of made it and you haven’t, and yet you feel like you’re equally talented. So it’s, you know, kind of that competitive thing and it you know, creative achievement and being recognized for your achievement both critically and then also financially with, you know, great riches, like she just, I don’t know, she just handles that really well in those books.
Nicole: [14:47] So and it’s contribute to our ballet discussion, if you like books that are about female friendships, relationships and you like that ballet aspect then I would also recommend The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey, that was really good.
Gayle: [15:10] I’ve never heard of that one.
Nicole: [15:13] Yeah, I think it came out, looks like it came out in 2012. And she also wrote The Wanderers, which is this space book that I was trying to get you to read.
Gayle: [15:29] Oh my god, that was recommended to me as well by J. Ryan Stradal. She loves that book.
Nicole:[15:36] The wanderers?
Gayle: [15:37] Yes. Is that about the ones to on like the Mars mission?
Nicole: [15:40] Yes, yes. Where the astronauts, where they get launched, It was, Yeah.
Gayle: [15:45] Yes. He was telling me to read that too. And I did not put two and two together that that was the same one that you are also recommending for me to read. Ah, okay. So if you’re telling me to read and J. Ryan Stradal is telling me to read it, like that is, I am, What could I do? I have to read it.
Nicole: [16:03] You’re like I’m intrigued.
Gayle: [16:04] Yeah, well, I mean, those are like, you know, my best recommendation source
and my favorite author. Like obviously, that means that I’ve got to read it.
Nicole:[16:11] Resisting Point.
Gayle: [16:12] Yeah. I’m so glad that you guys converse on that. Okay, but so she had another book that also had to do with friendship
Nicole: [16:22] Friendship, female friendship, ballet. That was really good. Called The Crane Stance.
Gayle: [16:28] Okay. Right. So I’m going to put both of those on the list.
Nicole: [16:32] I see she has one other book called Blindside. I might have to check it out to see
if I could become a completist of hers.
Gayle: [16:39] Yeah. Okay. All right, so what’s your next one?
Nicole: [16:46] So my next one is The Lying Game by Ruth ware and I can’t remember if in a recent show, because I recently read the death, not The Death of Mrs. Westaway. I read The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware. That is her book that just came out in August. I wasn’t crazy about that book. And I feel like from what I’ve seen, not too many people were. It’s about this woman who is a nanny, and she goes to live in this house, to be a nanny to a woman who has four children. A set of twins, there’s a baby, and then she has an older daughter who is a way at school. And their house is like this smart house, that is just everything is controlled by tech, you know, like, there’s like a little iPod device that controls the temperature of your shower, it will turn the lights on, like everything is controlled by an app electronically.
And she at the beginning of the novel is writing to her lawyer. Well, not her lawyer, but she’s writing to a lawyer in the hopes that they will take her case. And she’s trying to explain that she is not responsible for a death that occurs of one of the children who is under her charge. And it’s all about like what happened with this house. I didn’t really like it. I felt like it didn’t really concentrate as much on the tech, as it could have. It sort of presented as a ghost story. And I don’t know, I just didn’t it. It took me a long time to read. I wasn’t that into it. So, saying all this to say I didn’t like Ruth Ware’s last book.
But the book before that was The Lying Game and I think it came out maybe not the summer, maybe the summer, two summers ago because The Death of Mrs. Westaway was out that last summer. And it is about four friends who reunite at an isolated house. They go back to the town where I believe their boarding school was of course there was a tragic incident that has separated them and you know, it has consequences, consequences and repercussions for a gathering that they get together. There’s four of them. You know, one has a child, one has successful career. There is that whole mix of things. And of course this weekend, where they’re supposed to be reuniting puts strain on their friendship and brings up things in the past that have always affected them. I really liked that one. yeah.
Gayle: [19:27] People are not liking her latest one I feel like. I keep hearing reviews of it and people are not thrilled about it.
Nicole: [19:34] Yeah, it was just, it sets itself up. First of all, it sets itself up as sort of like a tech, you know, like, how does this tech environment influence what could you know the what tragedy has happened in this home? And yeah, the tech I think the tech aspect of it, one of the things I said on Instagram about this book in an Instagram story is It was alternately boring like I was alternately just bored. And then like low key frightened because things would happen and then you start to think about your own tech that’s in your house, but it wasn’t really about that. And yeah, I don’t know. And too, I think what happens is it’s largely forgettable, like I would have to really sit down to think some more about all the issues that I had with this book. But it’s one of those things that Yeah, I read it, I didn’t like it, I didn’t think it did what it set out to do and now it’s not even sticking anymore. So I can’t even tell you all the problems that I had with
it. But, I have The Death of Cabin 10 to read by her. Lydia was telling me that she also read, she read The Death of Mrs. Westaway and she said she wasn’t crazy about that either so,
Gayle: [20:53] Okay.
Nicole: [20:54] We’ll see, I just don’t really want to read the death, the death of Mrs. Westaway but if it’s something that is just not grabbing me 50 to 100 pages, I might just be an ass.
Gayle: [21:06] Yeah.
Nicole: [21:09] So now that we’ve been off on that tangent, what’s your next book?
Gayle: [21:12] So my next book explores toxic friendship. And this is a book I read a really long time ago and I on a recent show, I know you and I talked about Margaret Atwood, but this is from the 80s and this is called Cat’s Eye. And it is a book about girls excluding and being mean to other girls, and then the impact that that has on the rest of their life. So it takes place in I guess it’s high school or middle school. And there is an, the main character of the book is woman named Elaine. And she was friends with a group of girls and then kind of a new girl comes in. And that girl like is a mean girl. And they are very mean to Elaine and they basically like destroy her confidence. Sorry, my dog is barking. They bid the kids all day.
Nicole:[22:06] The dog?
Gayle: [22:07] The dog yeah, it’s a tough, tough time right now because I think it thinks, I’m
Nicole: [22:10] Yeah. So let me just a little context for the show, Gayle has a lady going on in her apartment. So it’s questionable that I’ll be able to edit out all of this. So just so you know.
Gayle: [22:25] Sorry for the noise. This is the reality of my life here. I think that the kids are leaving. So hopefully things will quiet down in a minute, my dog will come down again. Um, so she sort of spends her life kind of trying to recover from, you know, this horrible blow to her confidence that happened when she was in middle school at the hands of this awful woman. And awful girl. And then of course, later in life, they cross paths again and, you know, she sort of has to decide, like, Can she forgive? And does she have it in her to kind of be kind to this woman later on? And I mean, I think that’s always an interesting fantasy about like, you know, you come back across your tormentor later and you have the chance to turn the tables a little bit. But anytime I look at any like lists of books about female friendship or anything like that, this is Cat’s eyes is always on the list. And I actually would love to reread this book because I read it so long ago. And I remember really loving it. It’s very sad book and it’s kind of a lonely dark book, like a lot of Margaret Atwood books, but I think this is a this is this deserves to be in any book about friendship.
Nicole; [23:44] So lucky.
Gayle: [23:45] I think the kids are like taunting him. I just can’t have him here. Yeah okay that’s
helpful okay. Alright so that’s Cat’s Eye. What’s your next book?
Nicole: [23:55] The next book on my list is a classic. It’s The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I did not read this book until recently, and I believe it came out in the 1980s. I want to say because I Well, maybe even before that, because didn’t, wasn’t isn’t a movie from the 1980s.
Gayle: [24:15] Yeah, I think it is.
Nicole: [24:15] I just know that it’s very early Whoopi Goldberg, I’m not sure. So I read this book much later than when it came out and I was just stunned. It’s such a beautiful book. It’s something that can be read at any time, it is about female friendship. It’s the main character is a woman named Celia. She’s in a very abusive relationship. She’s been separated from her sisters. And she ultimately writes sisters, writes letters to her sister who is not with her and to God and it’s just about her life, you know, she’s growing up in the south, she has a very abusive husband, she doesn’t love herself very much or feel comfortable in her skin. And over the course of the book, you see her interaction and you see her tried to grow and nurture herself out of this marriage. And you see the role that female friendship plays in sometimes in supporting people. I mean, I think there are some times when people let her down, but it’s just such, It’s a stunning. It’s a beautiful story. It’s one of those books that you hear about that people love and, you know, it’s a classic and it’s like, oh, I’ll get around to or whatever, and then you read it. And just like, why did I never read this? This is so good. So you have not read the color purple by Alice Walker, then you’re in for a treat, even though it does have, there is some brutality in this relationship. You know, that young Celia is her husband, but just the support role of female friendship and this novel is just like something that you can’t miss.
Gayle: [25:48] I read that so long ago to now you’re making me want to reread it. Especially because we, yeah, sorry go ahead.
Nicole: [26:06] What was your, what do you remember your impressions be?
Gayle: [26:09] I don’t like it was so long ago, I barely remembered it at all. And I don’t even know if I actually saw the movie or not. But I just I remember really liking it. I just I couldn’t have told you the fact pattern. So I was glad to hear you remind me of it.
Nicole: [26:26] So good.
Gayle: [26:27] Yeah.
Nicole: [26:29] It looks like it was a book that I finished in one day.
Gayle: [26:33] Oh my god. That’s impressive.
Nicole: [26:35] Yes, I started one morning and I finished it in the same day. And I didn’t think I was going to do that and it was fully epistolary.
Gayle: [26:45] Oh, is it?
Nicole: [26:46] I think so. I said I’m usually a little suspect about epistolary novels, because I get caught up in how, how letter can have amazingly detailed recall events and that usually does trip me up. It’s just like, how do you remember word for word, the conversation? I can be so literal sometimes.
Gayle: [27:04] All right. No it always bothers me to.
Nicole: [27:06] That didn’t bother me with this. Yeah. Okay, so
Gayle: [27:10] Okay so my next one, I’m going to pair two together, one of them we’ve talked about really recently on the show. So that one is The Last Romantics. And I’m going to pair that one with invisible, Invincible Summer by Amy Adams.
Gayle: [27:27] I am sorry, yes. Why do I always do that? By Alice Adams. So as we talked about in the last romantics, is about a group of four women from college and their friendship over time. And if we’ve had such a recent discussion about that, that I don’t want to get into too much detail about that one. But then invincible summer is also about four friends from college. And this has a boy, I think, actually two boys in the mix with this one, too. But what I like about those is the kind of dynamics among for people over time. You know, it’s one thing to talk about two people’s lives changing after college and getting into adulthood, but when you expand it to four, you have a lot of kind of interpersonal dynamics and the feelings when two people are closer than others and two people feel estranged or when one is no longer part of the group and how that affects the other three.
So Invincible Summer follows 4 people in England. And after they graduate, they move to the city and they’re kind of their lives go off into different directions. I actually think two of them are siblings and that one, so that adds an extra element of complication. But you know, it’s the same type of thing checking in on them over the course of years as they kind of go through rites of passage of adulthood to get married and have kids and all of that and just the role that they play in each other’s lives and expectations and how things change. So those two feel kind of linked to me and they if you like books about friendships getting into adulthood and groups of college friends that’s I think that’s both good ones to read. And did I say that was the last romantics? I apologize that was not the last romantics, It was The Other’s Gold. I read those two back to back. Last romantics is about siblings. It’s the other’s gold,
Nicole: [29:26] I’m sitting here thinking, I was like, I know we talked about both those books something is not right
Gayle: [29:29] Yeah, yeah. No, I had the wrong one, I had the wrong one. I’ve read them like in a compressed period of time because I was on vacation.
Nicole: [29:35] On the vacation, right?
Gayle: [29:37] Yeah. So I meant The Other’s Gold by Elizabeth Egan. So I apologize.
Nicole:[24:42] You said, wait, Elizabeth Egan. Is she the one who wrote that book that tech, was it a tech startup book that you really liked? Or no?
Gayle: [29:52] Start up?
Nicole [29:53] No not startup. I have to look her up now.
Gayle: [30:00] I don’t think so because I think that’s the first book I’ve read by her.
Nicole: [30:04] Oh really?
Gayle: [30:04] Actually it maybe a debut.
Gayle: [30:07] Might have been a debut, but I’m curious to know which one you’re referring to now.
Nicole: [30:12] There’s a book with a pink cover. And I cannot remember it. It was about it was it was one of those books that seemed like we had a rash of books where there were mothers who had left work, and they were coming back to work at these tech companies.
Gayle: [30:26] Oh, no, no, no, you’re thinking I know, the book you’re thinking of. And her name is sort of similar. I kind of black on what that one was called. A woman who goes back to work and she goes to work for this like Amazon as company, A Window Opens.
Nicole: [30:41] Right. What was her name?
Gayle: [30:44] Oh I’m looking for the book on the shelf. I will look it up online. Yeah, that’s a
different book. But her is similar.
Nicole: [30:52] Elizabeth Egan. Her name is Elizabeth Egan but it’s spelled Elisabeth with the “s”.
Gayle: [30:58] Oh my God, that’s crazy.
Nicole: [31:03] I’m so glad to know I’m not crazy. Like I know it’s a book with a pinkish reddish cover.
Gayle: [31:08] Wait so did I get the name wrong for maybe I got the name wrong for the other’s gold. Oh, it’s Elizabeth Ames. That’s why I always get that wrong. That is why I always get the wrong I always want to call her Elizabeth Egan because I had read another book by her and you’ve just, you’ve just solved the mystery of it. Yes, The Other’s Gold does. Elizabeth Ames and A Window Opens is Elizabeth Egan. Thank you for clarifying. Yeah. So anyway, so those are two good group friendship groups.
Nicole: [31:44] Okay, so how many of you have left?
Gayle: [31:47] I have one left, but it’s, it’s the boy girl one.
Nicole: [31:50] Okay. Which we now have to tell everyone since
Gayle: [31:56] I think you’ve read it. I’m almost positive, you’ve read it.
Nicole: [31:59] Okay. So my last one. Is it my last one? No, you went first so it’s not my last one. So Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. Now, Jacqueline Woodson like, she, formally or maybe she still does, maybe she does both because now she’s been writing adult novels. Is she writes a lot of Y.A. like critically acclaimed Y.A. novels. And she’s very well known in that space. So a couple of years ago, and I think she also does a lot of poetry, or, like, verse novels in verse or stuff. I don’t know, I could be making stuff up. But I think that’s true.
So anyway, a couple of years ago, she had a she debuted an adult novel, it was called Another Brooklyn. And it is about I think one of the friends dies. And it’s about one of the friends is reminiscing about her friendship growing up in Brooklyn. And the four women who just made it so or girls at the time made it so worthwhile, because they were just, you know, they were young girls growing up on gritty city streets and there are a lot of things that happened, you know, it’s not like it was an idyllic childhood but it was just, you know, they were able, the fact that they were able to navigate their adolescence together, made it stronger, and though they don’t stay like, you know, they go their different ways. They’re not all friends as adults, the book is just reminiscent of their friendship and all the things that got this one woman to be where she is. And it was such, it’s such a great female friendship novel.
She has another book coming out in September, or just like, based on whatever this aired, it might already be out, and it’s called Red at the bone, which is also very good. Like, she’s such a great writer, and she’s one of those writers who does not, she’s a spare writer. So every sentence and every word is well placed and just packs a punch, and the stories that she is able to create and it’s usually I want to say it’s young adolescent women, or it’s about like the black experience. Some in Brooklyn, like I haven’t read a lot of her books. But the couple that I have read have been in Brooklyn and they’ve been so great. So Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. Also check out Red At The Bone which is out.
Gayle: [34:41] I think I need to pick up Red At The Bone at Book Expo, but I’m not sure I got to check it out.
Nicole: [34:37] So okay, Gayle.
Gayle: [34:39] All right. So my last one is this is the just pure boy girl friendship And this one is One Day by David Nicholls. Did I get the name right?
Gayle: [34:51] So this is the book that checks in on a pair of friends. Is it every day, one day every year. July 15.
Nicole: [35:01] The same day every year. Yeah,
Gayle: [35:03] I always remember because it is my brother’s birthday. He checks in on these friends on the same day of the year, every year for a certain number of years and charts, the friend, their friendship over time. And some years, they’re in touch with each other in some years, they’re not. And it kind of shows how their own lives have changed and how their friendship has changed how they relate to each other. And I just remember really, really liking that book. So it’s not a female friendship. So it doesn’t quite fit the category, but I
Gayle: [35:41] Okay, so it doesn’t fit the category, but it’s about a friendship. And I just really liked that one. I did not see the see the movie. I think the movie it was supposed to be really bad. Right?
Nicole: [35:53] I don’t know if I saw it either then.
Gayle: [35:56] Okay. Yeah. So I don’t, I can’t maybe I did see it but I don’t remember, I don’t remember the movie having as much of an impact as the book did. But I just really liked that book. And I know that the conceit is a little force that, you know, once a year thing, but I think it was interesting, because it just showed that there were some years, but they really weren’t in each other’s lives. And I thought it was kind of a realistic depiction of friendship. I mean, sometimes I think in in books, friendship is a bit simplified, not so much in the ones we’ve picked and I think that’s why we’d like these ones we’ve picked because they do show the complications. But sometimes, you know, they’ll just these friendships are it’s kind of taken for granted that they’re always close and they’re always, you know, there for each other with equal measure of enthusiasm and availability and that’s not necessarily the way friendships are in real life. They come and go.
Nicole: [36:44] I would agree with you except for there was a romantic element, there was the are they ever going to be on the same page in this book that I think would exclude it, not only because it’s not a female friendship, but it wasn’t a pure friendship.
Gayle: [36:59] Wasn’t really like platonic yeah.
Nicole: [37:00] It makes it a little bit different.
Gayle: [37:03] That’s true. Okay so
Nicole: [37:05] But I normally, I would agree that if you were to check in like that, on female friendships, like on a friendship, there’s some years where you don’t speak that you know, that you don’t speak or you don’t speak as much or you see each other once a year. It could be good. going through something and you see someone all the time or none at all.
Gayle: [37:24] Yeah. And I like books that that sort of
Nicole [37:28] Address that?
Gayle: [37:28] Incorporate that realism in there. Yeah, that so even you know, it doesn’t have to be like this one where there was the will they won’t they thing, but I do enjoy when books are more realistic about their depiction of friendships like sometimes, even in that one that I was talking about The Other’s Gold by Elizabeth Ames, as I now know. Like that one, there were times when the sort of, especially in the beginning, the kind of like intensity, and deep love that they have for each other just felt a little bit unrealistic, but I’m like, that’s not always how friendships are.
Gayle: [38:02] And then as time went on, it did get a little more realistic, but I do I do enjoy when authors like, acknowledge that sometimes you know that friendships can be a little more inconsistent with time.
Nicole:[38:15] Sometimes there’s tension
Gayle: [38:17] Sure. Tension or resentment. You know, like if one
Nicole: [38:21] Stolen husbands, boyfriends.
Gayle: [38:24] Well, that doesn’t happen quite as it does in real life. It does make for good fiction. Okay, so that was my last one. What is your last pick?
Nicole: [38:24] My last one is an intense friendship book. I really love this book. I don’t know if I’ve read anything else by Sue Monk Kidd. But I read The Invention of Wings and talk about tension in a friendship. It is about one of the Grimke sisters and, like the bad podcaster I am I don’t remember which one. But the Grimke sisters were abolitionists back, and they were also Quakers. So they were totally against slavery. For whatever reason this sister is gifted a slave for her birthday, who she does not want. I mean, to be gifted another human for your birthday. I think they’re both around the same age. And I think this happens when she’s around eight, I want to say.
So is about their relationship over the years. At one point, I want to I want to say that there’s just a lot of tension. There’s a lot of changes in this relationship or whatever, you know. Can this really be a true friendship when one person owns the other? I mean, I think that’s one of the questions but it also shows that in and you know, the ins and outs of their relationship over the days and things that would have affected it, and it is so well written, it’s such a long it was a long book. It’s one of those books that you think is like, Oh, this book is still going on.
But I’m still so focused on it. Like I love the writing so much. And it was just so interesting. Her imagining of what this relationship must have been like, because of course, it is. It’s one sided in the sense that we you know, of course, you do not know about this woman who was assigned to be her servant, you don’t know what she thought, of course, history would not have thought that it was important to acknowledge or she wouldn’t have written anything down. So this is just all from the knowledge of one woman’s life and her letters and where she was, and at what point this other woman in her life disappeared. So it’s historical, it’s a skillful, imaginary thing. And it definitely has the ups and downs and the tensions that you would expect in a relationship that is forced.
Gayle: [41:00] I think that’s so interesting that the different dimensions we’ve covered on this show about the different types of friendships, so friendship is someone who’s not alive, some friendship with someone you own and like what like you say like, how can that truly be a friendship when you can’t be equals, can’t be peers. That’s really interesting. All right, do you want to do quickly a backlist book?
Nicole: [41:28] Um, yeah, sure. You’re ready?
Gayle: [41:31] Yeah.
Nicole: [41:32] I had picked a backless book. And then I forgot which one I picked. So you go first.
Gayle: [41:36] Okay I would go first and while I’m talking
Nicole: [41:37] Oh now I know what it is.
Gayle: [41:39] Okay, well do you want to go first?
Nicole: [41:41] No, you can go.
Gayle: [41:42] Okay. So my backlist book has nothing to do with friendship. And it is called Best Boy by Eli Gottlieb. And this is a book about a man who is autistic. And he is in his I’m going to say he’s in his 50s. And he’s living in a group home for people who have sort of mental or, you know, mental issues or living on the spectrum or some type of disability. And it’s about his existence, and then also his relationship with his younger brother. So he has a younger brother from whom he has been estranged for a long time, but for whom he still has very warm feelings. And his mother has died and that’s why he’s, you know, living in this institution, few visitors and not much of a life outside of this institution. But he’s constantly awaiting a visit from his brother. And it is told through the perspective of the man who has autism. So it has, you know, another glimpse into that life. This came out before I think before autism fiction got kind of hot, which happened with like Eleanor Oliphant and you know, there’s other books out there that I feel like have kind of maybe even like curious incidents
Nicole: [43:06] But didn’t, Yeah, but didn’t The Curious Incident kick that off?
Gayle: [43:10] Yeah. And this may have been after that one. But I think this book got a ton of attention, but I thought it was really good. And I think that the author has a sibling who has autism, so it’s very much in his own life experience. And I think he’s a really good writer. And I just it was, it was a sad book, but it was, I thought he did a really nice job of sort of given this man like dimension and humanity and emotion even though that’s not what those aren’t things that you normally ascribe to people who have autism. So, that is called the best boy by Eli Gottlieb.
Nicole: [43:51] So, the book that is my backlist book is One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. And I love this book so much. I was just when I thought of this as my backlist book, I went to look to see if I had written if I had written if I had read any other books by her and I have not, which is scandalous because I love this book so much. And I think that she’s such a great writer. So it opens with a young woman she’s sitting in an Indian passport and visa office. She’s in an unidentified city in the United States. I say that I got the vibe that it was California from reading this book. So she is observing the employees around her. The other people who are in the passport office attending to business and just kind of, you know, ruminating a little bit about their lives when an earthquake happens and then they are all trapped in this office together like buried under rubble.
They don’t have much expectation that they are going to be rescued. And they go around and they start telling each other stories like they start sharingthings from their lives. So that is what this book is about. It is so good. It was so beautifully written. And just the things that the characters share and how they come together for each other in such a dire circumstance was so good. And just I don’t know, just to see the connections that they formed. It was such a great book, I need to sit myself down, figure out what else she has written and get my hands on something stack because I thought she was so great. And as I look at the list of things that she’s written over the years, they’ve all been things that I’ve been interested in. There’s one called Before We Visit the Goddess, The Mistress of Spices. Yeah, so I have my work cut out for me.
Gayle: [46:00] Yeah,
Nicole:[46:01] I think you really liked this book. You really like her writing.
Gayle: [46:07] I don’t think that yeah, I never heard of it. So I would like to try it. Alright.
Nicole:[46:13] So I think that’s it. That’s our show for today.
Gayle: [46:16] All right. Well, I’m off to the baseball game to celebrate Labor Day with the Washington Nationals. Although maybe Popeye didn’t lawn past Labor Day when the show actually goes on air.
Nicole: [46:29] It probably will be and then by that time, I will be football because your seat
Gayle: [46:35] That’s right, right, right. It’s like months of overlap
Nicole: [46:37] It’s right now and is off next week. So you’re going to be like, Can we record Sunday night and I’ll be like, no. We cannot.
Gayle: [46:48] All right, well, we’d love to hear your favorite books about friendship so hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, send us an email, let us know which are your favorite books about friendship and what type of friendship is covered in the book. And until then, happy reading.
[47:09] We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of The Readerly Report. You can find all of our shows on iTunes or at thereaderlyreport.com. Please join our Facebook group readerly report readers where you can talk to other listeners about their reading life. You can also find Nicole at nicolebonia.com and me Gayle, at everydayIwritethebookblog.com. Finally, we’d love it if you left us a review on iTunes and told your book loving friends about us. Thanks