It's been a long time coming, but finally friendship is being recognised as one of the most valuable relationships in people's lives. Galentine's Day, first originating in a 2010 Parks and Recreation episode, is now a recognised celebration of the family you chose for yourself - your friends.
So many books and films tell the story of romantic relationships, but we wanted to put together a list of the best books about friendship. Here, you'll find friendships between men, women, men and women, and animals. Whatever your choice, why don't you set up a book club with your friends and discuss it afterwards? After all, any excuse to see your friends, right?
The Outsiders, by S E Linton
This cult classic tells the tale of the Greasers, a gang of working-class teenage boys, whose arch-enemies are the Socs, wealthier teens from the other side of town. A clash between them results in the narrator, Ponyboy, and Johnny Cade going on the run, fearing for their lives. The boys have a relationship which goes beyond simple friendship, supporting each other, covering for each other and fighting for their honour. The book was made into a film in 1983, featuring a host of stars including Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe and Emilio Estevez. But, as ever: read the book first!
Since You've Been Gone, by Morgan Matson
Friendship is not always about agreeing with each other. In this YA novel, Emily's best friend Sloane has vanished, leaving behind only a list of thirteen things for Emily to try this summer. They're all things Sloane wouldn't think twice about - dancing until dawn, kissing a stranger - but for shy Emily, they're a huge challenge. She hopes by following them, she'll bring Sloane back, but along the way, she learns a lot about herself too. The best friends challenge us to be our best selves, and Sloane manages that without even being there! A great read, especially if your bestie is a long way away.
The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
We're stretching the boundaries of friendship here. A group of six exceptional students at an elite American college find themselves bound together by secrets and lies, going to extraordinary lengths to cover their tracks. It's a reminder that the dark side of friendship is obsession and interdependence. Not one for a dark lonely night, but a great book nonetheless.
The Harry Potter series, by J K Rowling
Let's be real: I don't need to go over what this one is about - where have you been for the past twenty years? But if we're talking friendship, you're spoilt for choice with the plethora of platonic connections in here. Of course, Harry, Ron and Hermione spring to mind, but think too of Hagrid and Harry, Harry and Luna and the Marauders. It's the ultimate testament to the power of friendship, and always worth a re-read anyway.
Circle of Friends, by Maeve Binchy
Set in 1950s Ireland, this novel rattles along as a much gentler pace than some of the others on this list. Centring upon a group of university students in Dublin, it explores what happens when schoolfriends Bernadette and Eve travel to the big city and meet the people there. Friendships are forged, hearts are broken, but throughout it all is the close bond between Bernadette and Eve which reminds us that sometimes our oldest friends are the most important people we have.
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, by Joanna Cannon
If you've ever played at detectives with your childhood friends, you'll recognise a lot of what ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly get up to here. In trying to find out what has happened to Mrs Creasy, they find out an awful lot more about The Avenue and their own families than they ever really wanted to. The loyalty between the two girls is one of the most charming things in a thoroughly charming book and definitely worth a read this Galentine's Day.
A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
Hosseini often depicts friendships forged under difficult circumstances, and in his second novel, he offers us a story of two women married to the same man who must work together in order to survive. The rivalries and jealousies so common in female friendships, however unspoken, rise to the surface in this incredible depiction of late 20th-century Afghanistan, but it ultimately reminds us of the need to stick together, support each other and look after our friends.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness
In an inventive inversion of the never-ending 'Chosen One' narratives, Ness instead gives us a group of friends remarkable only for their ordinariness. But if you live in a town where strange things happen and the apocalypse is always just around the corner, you realise how important your friends are. Whilst Mikey and his loved ones don't fight the baddies head on, this book proves that real life can be just as hard as any fantasy world, and that we all need a friend sometimes.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Almost twenty years since this book was published, it has become something of a modern classic. Charlie's experience of freshman year at high school is made infinitely better by being befriended by Patrick and Sam. Friendship can't stop the bad things happening, but it can help to have someone to talk to, and that's precisely what these teens find as the year rolls on. The film starring Ezra Miller and Emma Watson is a great interpretation of the novel and would be a fantastic follow up when you finish reading this.
Marley and Me, by John Grogan
Marley being a dog doesn't make this any less a book about friendship. In fact, Marley is probably the ultimate definition of a best friend: loving, fun, loyal and ever so slightly annoying. The puppy brings chaos into the lives of John and his wife, but they soon realise they wouldn't have it any other way. If you've ever found the only one who really understands you is your dog, cat, hamster or stick insect, you have to read this book and experience the joy of Marley, the World's Worst Dog.