After going over this list, I wondered if I should go back and change it to “Books that will make you cry.” For the last two or three years, I have become a gigantic softy. I blubber and boohoo at movies, commercials, speeches on tv…even the mention of some of these books had me getting a little teary-eyed. I compiled this list and decided to write this post in order to give some reading options for those who are uninterested in romance, but craving to read about love. I have been with my husband for eight wonderful years, but he isn’t the only love of my life. I consider my best friends among the major characters of my life’s story and I know that I would not be able to love my husband as deeply and honestly as I do if I had not learned how to love from my best girl friends. I also have invaluable friendships with my male friends, of course, but there is something truly special about the love that is shared between women. So for Valentine’s Day, reach out as well to the friends who have your heart. That is the kind of love that is always worth celebrating.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein – A book that every adult read when they were a child. When I began teaching, this is the first book that I bought for our classroom. I had to stop reading it though because it made me tear up in front of the class. This book is simple, yet substantial in its meaning. To me, nothing describes selfless love better.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – I read this book as an adult for the first time and it was like visiting an old friend. You just cannot help but fall in love with Anne Shirley.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – This classic has everything. In fact, it is practically perfect in every way. I love these characters and how they made me believe that farm animals and spiders alike can have meaningful friendships just like us.
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume – More than just a summer beach read, Judy Blume’s mastery of creating real-life characters and situations will draw you in to the lives of Caitlin and Vix. I felt drawn to this book because I didn’t read much Judy Blume as a child and I wanted to read from an adult’s perspective. It will also bring you into the world of Martha’s Vineyard, which has its own charms.
Beaches by Iris Rainer Dart – As in the beloved movie starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey? Yes! This book is everything you loved about the 1980s movie, but better.
Friendship by Emily Gould – I have yet to read, but I put it on the list because it has conflicting reviews from readers and a ton of praise from critics. I don’t know about you, but that just makes me want to read it more. Its central relationship has been compared to Lena Dunham’s Girls, which could be why it has turned off some readers.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – This is one of the few books that I have read more than once. I don’t have sisters, but have craved the sisterhood of the March girls since I was in fourth grade. Before there were Elsa and Anna there were Joe, Meg, Beth, and Amy…and their coming of age story is identifiable no matter how old you are or in what century you were born.
The Group by Mary McCarthy – Like Sex and the City? You have Mary McCarthy and her group of Vassar graduates to thank for it (this book was Bushnell’s inspiration). These women are dynamic and the setting couldn’t be any more swoon-worthy…1930s New York City. This book is smart, witty, and frank. It is a great companion for when you’re reading before bed, on the train, or in the bath.
Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell – This is a memoir that deals with friends going through some of the hardest parts of life (and death). It will make you cry. I want to cry just thinking about it. It is about the loss of a friend more than the gaining of one. Through Caldwell you see and feel the love between these two women by way of grief. The loss of a friendship is devastating no matter how it happens. This book will make you want to hold on tight to the people in your life and help you appreciate them.
Happy Valentine’s Day in advance!