Galentine’s Day Reads: 10 Books to Read with Besties

February 11 2022
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This Valentine’s Day, take a break from all the romantic nonsense and get real with your girlfriends instead. Because, as we all know, Galentine’s Day is the real reason to celebrate. If you need some help getting in the mood, check out some of our favorite reads about friendship. Funny, heartwarming, and suspenseful, these stories explore both the euphoria and the complexities of female friendship. Already read one of these books or authors? Grab some wine and chocolates and book club it with your bestie! We promise you won’t find a better way to spend your day.

Yours Cheerfully
by AJ Pearce

London, 1941: Emmy Lake is thrilled to be the new wartime advice columnist for Woman’s Friend magazine. Meanwhile, her best friend, Bunty, is still recovering from the worst of the Blitz, but seems newly optimistic. When the Ministry of Information calls on women’s magazines to recruit their readers for the war effort, Emmy is initially eager to help—that is, until a mother shows Emmy and Bunty what really faces women war workers. Now, Emmy is caught between her responsibility to her country and her love of her friends.

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Yours Cheerfully
AJ Pearce

From the author of the “jaunty, heartbreaking winner” (People) and international bestseller Dear Mrs. Bird, a new charming and uplifting novel set in London during World War II about a plucky aspiring journalist.

London, November 1941. Following the departure of the formidable Henrietta Bird from Woman’s Friend magazine, things are looking up for Emmeline Lake as she takes on the challenge of becoming a young wartime advice columnist. Her relationship with boyfriend Charles (now stationed back in the UK) is blossoming, while Emmy’s best friend Bunty, still reeling from the very worst of the Blitz, is bravely looking to the future. Together, the friends are determined to Make a Go of It.

When the Ministry of Information calls on Britain’s women’s magazines to help recruit desperately needed female workers to the war effort, Emmy is thrilled to be asked to step up and help. But when she and Bunty meet a young woman who shows them the very real challenges that women war workers face, Emmy must tackle a life-changing dilemma between doing her duty and standing by her friends.

Every bit as funny, heartwarming, and touching as Dear Mrs. Bird, Yours Cheerfully is a celebration of friendship—a testament to the strength of women and the importance of lifting each other up, even in the most challenging times.

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The Last Dance of the Debutante
by Julia Kelly

Lily Nichols hopes to attend university, but to appease her mother she agrees to participate in the last traditional London Season for debutantes in 1958. As she faces a parade of glittering parties and grueling small talk, Lily befriends two women: the seemingly perfect yet secretive Leana and the ambitious Katherine, who seeks to elevate her family’s status. But when Lily discovers a dark family secret of her own, she must decide whether her family’s wishes or her own happiness is more important.

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The Last Dance of the Debutante
Julia Kelly

The author of the “sweeping, stirring, and heartrending” (Kristin Harmel, author of The Room on Rue Amélie) The Light Over London returns with a masterful, glittering novel that whisks you to midcentury Britain as it follows three of the last debutantes to be presented to Queen Elizabeth II.

When it’s announced that 1958 will be the last year debutantes are to be presented at court, thousands of eager mothers and hopeful daughters flood the palace with letters seeking the year’s most coveted invitation: a chance for their daughters to curtsey to the young Queen Elizabeth and officially come out into society.

In an effort to appease her traditional mother, aspiring university student Lily Nichols agrees to become a debutante and do the Season, a glittering and grueling string of countless balls and cocktail parties. In doing so, she befriends two very different women: the cool and aloof Leana Hartford whose apparent perfection hides a darker side and the ambitious Katherine Norman who dreams of a career once she helps her parents find their place among the elite.

But the glorious effervescence of the Season evaporates once Lily learns a devastating secret that threatens to destroy her entire family. Faced with a dark past, she’s forced to ask herself what really matters: her family legacy or her own happiness.

With her signature “intricate, tender, and convincing” (Publishers Weekly) storytelling, Julia Kelly weaves an unforgettable tale of female friendship amid the twilight days of Britain’s grand coming out balls.

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Wish You Were Gone
by Kieran Scott

In this sinister domestic thriller perfect for fans of the friendships in Netflix’s Dead to Me, the secrets one wife has kept for her husband come back to haunt her after his death. Emma has decided to finally confront her husband, James, about his alcoholism—until she discovers his body inside the twisted wreckage of the car he’s crashed in their garage. As Emma and her teenage children begin to rebuild their lives with the help of her two closest friends, she discovers shocking information about her husband’s last days that will change their lives forever.

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Wish You Were Gone
Kieran Scott

This “captivating thriller full of twists and surprises” (Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author)—about what happens when the death of a husband and father isn’t the tragedy everyone believes—is perfect for fans of the Netflix original series Dead to Me.

Emma Walsh has finally worked up the courage to confront her husband James about his drinking—his alcoholic rages, his blackouts, and the fear his behavior has created for her and their two kids. But James never shows up to meet her as planned, and all her righteous words go unsaid. And unsaid they remain, because the next time Emma sees James, his body lies crumpled amidst the wreckage of his flashy car, which has been smashed to its final resting place halfway through the back wall of their suburban house’s roomy garage.

In the aftermath of the fatal crash, Emma and her teenage children begin to embrace life without James’s looming, volcanic presence. Buoyed by the support of her two closest friends, she struggles to deal with her grief, complicated by the knowledge that her husband’s legacy as an upstanding business owner and family man shines only because so many people, for so long, were so willing to keep his secrets—secrets that twist into new and unexpected shapes as the mysterious details of his last day of life begin to come to light.

A sinister and suspenseful domestic thriller, lauded as “stylish” by Publishers Weekly and “delicious” by Booklist, Wish You Were Gone will keep you guessing “until not just the last page, but the last paragraph” (Chandler Baker, New York Times bestselling author).

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Brown Girls
by Daphne Palasi Andreades

In this one-of-a-kind debut, a chorus of girls growing up in Queens, New York, drift into and out of one another’s lives as they come of age and seek their places in the world. Childhood friends Nadira, Gabby, Trish, Angelique, Naz, and others blast through adolescence to the tune of Mariah Carey and rumbling subways. But as their paths diverge and their bonds are tested, these girls must come to terms with the true meaning of female friendship.

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Brown Girls
Daphne Palasi Andreades

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In Five Years
by Rebecca Serle

Unlike her go-with-the-flow best friend, Bella, Dannie is a planner. In fact, she’s spent her entire life crafting her future down to the tiniest detail. Now she’s nailed an interview for her dream job and received a marriage proposal from her dreamboat boyfriend. Everything is going according to plan. But when Dannie wakes up the next morning, she’s in a different apartment and she’s married to someone else. After spending one hour five years in the future, Dannie is sent back to the past with a new outlook that will change all her plans and test her friendship with Bella.

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In Five Years
Rebecca Serle

An Atria Book. Atria Books has a great book for every reader.

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If I Had Your Face
by Frances Cha

In Seoul, Kyuri entertains men at her job in an elite “room salon,” until her livelihood is threatened by one mistake. Meanwhile, Miho is struggling to make sense of the social scene she’s ended up in by dating one of the country’s wealthiest executives. Ara must face her obsessions with celebrity and beauty, which threaten to destroy her and her best friend. Finally, Wonna is desperate to build a more sustainable financial future for the baby she wants to have. IF I HAD YOUR FACE is a sharp portrait of four women brought together in one apartment building.

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If I Had Your Face
Frances Cha

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The Air You Breathe
by Frances de Pontes Peebles

On a Brazilian sugar plantation in the 1930s, nine-year-old orphan Dores meets the wealthy Garça. Despite their different backgrounds, the two girls bond over their shared love of music. As they age, their friendship and rivalry will blossom and rage, traveling from the volatile streets of Rio de Janeiro to Golden Age Hollywood and back again. Perfect for fans of the complex, honest friendship depicted in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, THE AIR YOU BREATHE is an intense, breathless story about the friendships that make and break us.

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The Air You Breathe
Frances de Pontes Peebles

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We Are Not Like Them
by Christine Pride & Jo Piazza

A propulsive and emotional exploration of race in America, WE ARE NOT LIKE THEM is a timely look at the intimate consequences of nationally devastating events. Jen and Riley have been best friends since childhood. Now Jen is expecting her first child, and Riley is on track to become one of the first Black news anchors in Philadelphia. But when Jen’s police officer husband is involved in the shooting of an unarmed Black teen and Riley is given the opportunity to cover the story, the bonds of their friendship will be tested beyond anything they could have imagined.

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We Are Not Like Them
Christine Pride & Jo Piazza

“Now these women, they can WRITE!” —Terry McMillan, New York Times bestselling author of It’s Not All Downhill from Here

We Are Not Like Them will stay with you long after you turn the last page.” —Laura Dave, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Thing He Told Me

Told from alternating perspectives, an evocative and riveting novel about the lifelong bond between two women, one Black and one white, whose friendship is indelibly altered by a tragic event—a powerful and poignant exploration of race in America today and its devastating impact on ordinary lives.

Jen and Riley have been best friends since kindergarten. As adults, they remain as close as sisters, though their lives have taken different directions. Jen married young, and after years of trying, is finally pregnant. Riley pursued her childhood dream of becoming a television journalist and is poised to become one of the first Black female anchors of the top news channel in their hometown of Philadelphia.

But the deep bond they share is severely tested when Jen’s husband, a city police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed Black teenager. Six months pregnant, Jen is in freefall as her future, her husband’s freedom, and her friendship with Riley are thrown into uncertainty. Covering this career-making story, Riley wrestles with the implications of this tragic incident for her Black community, her ambitions, and her relationship with her lifelong friend.

Like Tayari Jones’s An American Marriage and Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things, We Are Not Like Them explores complex questions of race and how they pervade and shape our most intimate spaces in a deeply divided world. But at its heart, it’s a story of enduring friendship—a love that defies the odds even as it faces its most difficult challenges.

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Best Friends Forever
by Jennifer Weiner

Addie thought she and Val would be friends forever, but after a betrayal in their teen years, Val grows up to become locally famous as a TV weathergirl while Addie is stuck caring for her troubled brother and going on bad Internet dates. That is, until Val unexpectedly turns up at Addie’s house, blood on her sleeve, asking for Addie’s help. Funny, smart, and adventurous, BEST FRIENDS FOREVER is an unexpected fairy tale story of friendship and forgiveness by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner.

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Best Friends Forever
Jennifer Weiner

This heartrending novel charts the longtime friendship between Val and Addie, two young girls who grow up to be very different women: one achieving fame and fortune, one staying behind.

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Three Things About Elsie
by Joanna Cannon

When Florence falls in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly, she can do nothing but wait for rescue that may or may not come. As she waits, she reflects on the dark secrets she and her best friend, Elsie, have kept for each other over the years, secrets that may now be coming to light with the recent arrival of Cherry Tree Home’s most charming resident. Lyrical, rich, and filled with bittersweet humor, THREE THINGS ABOUT ELSIE explores the complexity of lifelong relationships with unexpected twists.

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Three Things About Elsie
Joanna Cannon

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Photo credit: iStock / seb_ra

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