A Book Is Always a Good Idea! 20 Books to Give Your Best Friend That Will Make a Lasting Impression
There's nothing quite like the company of your best friend, that is, except for the company of a wonderful book. The perfect book can take you places you've never been, make you feel all the ups and downs of relationships you've never been in, and give you a completely new perspective on life. If you want to treat your bestie to their new favorite read, then this roundup of books to give your best friend is the perfect place to start. Whether they're into motivational books, beautiful books, or funny books, there's a book on this list that they're guaranteed to love.
The one thing each of these books has in common is their ability to linger in the reader's mind, to make an impact long after the last page has been turned. Much like a deep friendship, a fantastic book is something that can stay with you forever and something you hold close to your heart. So next time you're in need of a gift that will make a lasting impact, try out one of these books for your bestie.
For the Story You Can't Get Out of Your Head: Red at the Bone
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson tells the tale of Melody as she celebrates her 16th birthday, but it is so much more than a coming-of-age story. Intertwined with Melody's story are the stories of her parents and grandparents, whose courage, love, and pain have all led to the life that Melody inhabits. Prepare to have a lot of conversations about this one, because if you gift this book to your friend, they won't be able to stop talking about it.
For the Slow Burn: When the Music Stops
There is something so upsetting about a missed connection. When the Music Stops by Joe Heap is a story full of might have beens, almosts, and close calls. The story is told with the help of seven pieces of music and goes back and forth between a current conundrum and the remembrances of times gone by. This is the kind of story that stays with you, even if you can't quite explain why, and your friend will be grateful they read it.
For all the Feels: In Five Years
Will this book make your friend cry in public? Probably. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Rebecca Serle's In Five Years tells the story of control-freak Dannie and her free-spirited best friend, Bella. Dannie thinks she has a plan for everything, that is until Bella arrives with news that Dannie can't comprehend. Throw in a dash of New York City references, a sprinkling of metaphysical, and a whole lot of friendship, and this book is sure to make a lasting impression.
For the Experimentalist: Citizen: An American Lyric
This is a book like no other. Claudia Rankine's Citizen is a meditation on race and a masterpiece in form and experimental language. Rankine's commanding and creative use of words and images brings up complicated questions around race in a way that only Rankine could. This is the kind of book your friend will read and reread, each time discovering something new.
For the Empath: The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion is an icon, and to narrow down her best work would be a feat we're not ready to take on, but this specific book, The Year of Magical Thinking, is certainly a must read for everyone. Simply put, it's a yearlong tale of grief — but in reality, it is so, so much more. This is the kind of book that wedges its way into your soul and becomes part of who you are and how you think.
For the Adventurer: Wild
Wild was published almost a decade ago, but it remains one of the greatest books on adventure, courage, and personal growth. When Cheryl Strayed found herself quickly approaching rock bottom, she made a pretty rash decision: to hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail — alone. Strayed wasn't a hiker or even a particularly outdoorsy person, and she didn't train much for the trek. But her recounting of her journey, her struggles, her pain, and her triumphs big and small leads the reader through the mountainous journey alongside her. Be warned: your friend will definitely tell you they're considering hiking the PCT by the time they've finished this book.
For the Classics Reader: The Awakening
This novella was originally published in 1899, but over a hundred years later, the themes in Kate Chopin's The Awakening continue to feel incredibly relevant. When Edna is stuck in a lackluster marriage, she looks for love and fulfillment elsewhere. What comes next, beyond beautiful prose, are questions of women's roles both in society and in home life. Questions of identity, ownership of self, control, and autonomy are at the core of this excellent book.
For a Grittier Story: Long Bright River
Long Bright River tells the story of the search for a missing sister set within the backdrop of a Philadelphia neighborhood that has been destroyed by the opioid crisis. Sure, this might be a thick novel, but your friend will tear through these pages in less time than they usually spend on TikTok. Liz Moore's writing is intoxicating, and the layers of mystery will propel you through the story.
For the Expert Baker: Nadiya Bakes
For the friend who can't stop watching The Great British Baking Show, Nadiya Hussain's new dessert cookbook, Nadiya Bakes, will be the most exciting gift they receive this year. Nadiya is one of the most beloved contestants to be on the show, and her cookbook does not disappoint. Filled with delicious recipes including raspberry amaretti biscuits, key-lime cupcakes, and spiced strudel, your friend will feel like they're living out their biggest BBC dreams.
For the Historical-Fiction Fan: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is a heartfelt novel told through a series of letters written by a 30-something woman shortly after the Second World War. Juliet leaves London on assignment to write an article on a literary club on the small island of Guernsey, but what she finds when she arrives is a welcoming community of people who make it hard for her to leave the island. Don't let this tongue-twister of a title discourage you; this book has it all: romance, wit, history, adventure, and heartbreak.
For the Concertgoer: Wild Thing
For anyone who wants to know everything about their favorite rock star, Philip Norman is the man to turn to. The biographer and music journalist has written books about some of the biggest names in classic rock, from Buddy Holly to Eric Clapton to Paul McCartney. And his latest biography, Wild Thing, is a deep dive into the life and work of the legendary Jimi Hendrix.
For the Poet: Call Us What We Carry
There were a lot of memorable things that happened on President Joe Biden's Inauguration Day, but one of the most memorable was Amanda Gorman's poetry. Her recitation was powerful and her poem was poignant and impactful, and it was hard to find a single person who wasn't talking about Gorman in the days that followed. Gorman's latest collection of poems, Call Us What We Carry, is a continuation of her voice, which remains relevant long after Inauguration Day.
For the '70s Rock 'n' Roller: Daisy Jones & The Six
This can't-put-down novel is written in the style of an oral history and is all about the rise and fall of the legendary (and unfortunately fictional) '70s rock band the book is named for, Daisy Jones & The Six. Yes, it has the sex, drugs, and ill-advised shenanigans that scene was known for, but it's also full of sticky relationships, creative genius, and some of the best songs that never existed. Taylor Jenkins Reid's novels never disappoint, and Daisy Jones is no exception.
For the Depth-Seeker: Such a Fun Age
This novel tells the story of Alix, a well-to-do, girlboss archetype white woman, and Emira, a 25-year-old, down-on-her-luck Black woman who nannies Alix's 2-year-old daughter, Briar. When a grocery-store security guard thinks Emira has kidnapped Briar and a video of the incident is shared online, things fall to pieces. Rich with layers of subtext, Kiley Reid's Such a Fun Age will have readers thinking about the difficult situations this book brings up and considering how relevant they are in our modern world.
For the Foodie: To Asia, With Love
Hetty McKinnon gets personal with this cookbook that's filled with recipes inspired by her childhood kitchen and her mom's Chinese cooking. Get ready for homemade kimchi, noodles, and dumplings, plus some inventive fusion recipes that meld flavors from across Asia. The best part of giving your friend To Asia, With Love is that they'll undoubtedly need someone to taste test their creations, and trust us, you're gonna want to volunteer for the job.
For the 20-Something: The Defining Decade
To sum up your 20s, in the words of the brilliant scholar Taylor Swift, "we're happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time." And that's exactly what Meg Jay's The Defining Decade is about — addressing those feelings and setting yourself up for success in the decades that follow. Dr. Jay is never patronizing, despite speaking to a younger audience, and instead offers pointed examples that she does, in fact, understand the obstacles 20-somethings face. For the friend who can't help but be overanalytical, this book will help them wade through the messiness of young adulthood.
For the Y2K Fan: Gossip Girl
If you didn't read Cecily von Ziegesar's Gossip Girl in the early 2000s, you seriously missed out. Yes, you probably know Serena, Blair, Chuck, Dan, and Nate from the hit TV show, but even if you've watched and rewatched the series, the book versions of these characters will still manage to surprise you. Whether your friend is dying to throw it back to the good old days or they're diving into the joys of the early millennium for the first time, Gossip Girl is a quintessential choice.
For the Sally Rooney Obsessive: Beautiful World, Where Are You
Sally Rooney's latest novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You, is unquestionably a Sally Rooney book. It has an idyllic Irish setting, complicated relationships that make you want to grab each character and give them a good shaking on the shoulders, and sex that is a lot of things but never simple. If your bestie couldn't get enough of Normal People and Conversations With Friends, this is definitely a book on their wish list.
For the Rom-Com Devotee: The Wedding Date
There's nothing quite like a romantic comedy to lift one's spirits. If your friend can't get enough of the genre, gift them The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory, which tells the story of Alexa and Drew, who get stuck in an elevator and make a pact to help Drew survive his ex's wedding. But what happens when his fake girlfriend starts feeling a little too real? Rom-com messiness ensues, and we fall deeper in love.
For a Good Laugh: Dear Girls
Anyone who's watched Baby Cobra knows how hilarious Ali Wong is. In Dear Girls, which is written as a series of letters to her daughters, Wong offers thoughts on dating, Asian culture, working in a stereotypically male industry, and more. This book offers a delightful mix of thoughtful insights and laugh-out-loud writing that your friend will adore.