by Sandra Manley-Eichler

Galentine’s Day is around the corner. This means waffles, mimosas, cozy days and the spa and nights at your favorite wine bar. But what do you really give to a close friend? Flowers? Chocolates? Gift cards?

What better way to say “I love you” to your favorite “poetic and beautiful land mermaid” than a fresh new book? Check out the following literary delights to give to your bestie… and should you feel so inclined, (you knew this was coming) treat yo self!

1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Delightfully snippy, distanced, and socially awkward- you can’t help but fall in love with Eleanor Oliphant. Imagine a character who is a mix of Angela from The Office and Emily Charlton from The Devil Wears Prada. Can it get any better?

Eleanor works in a typical British office with a typical routine she has set for several years. She prides herself on a predictable life, even if it’s not what some of us would call “fulfilling”. When she’s not working, Eleanor is carefully plotting her romance to a local musician. Eleanor meets a friendly, new IT guy in the office named Raymond in the office, with whom she saves the life of an elderly gentleman in the neighborhood. Their closeness helps Eleanor open up, and discover that maybe the routine and predictability she depends on is hindering her ability to fully love and be loved. Pass the tissues.

2. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Amber Patterson wants to climb the social ladder, and she will stop at nothing to reinvent herself to become Jackson Parrish’s wife. How does she plan to do this? By befriending his current wife, Daphne. Daphne is a woman who wants for nothing and has the advantages that come with overwhelming wealth. Page by page, we see Amber’s sinister tricks and lies, all expertly crafted to slip into the life of the New York Elite.

You won’t be surprised by Amber’s motivation for wealth- envy and greed are recognizable for any reader. What you won’t expect is how you find yourself as easily charmed by Amber as the Parrish Family. You can even come to sympathize with Amber’s hurried struggle to break apart a marriage to get rich beyond her wildest dreams- that’s how manipulative she is! But the twist partway will test your assumptions, moral beliefs, and how you define “wealth.” Clear your schedule for this one- it’ll be a fight to put it down.

3. Joy the Baker Over Easy: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Leisurely Days by Joy Wilson

Galentine’s Day needs a cookbook that’s Leslie Knope approved. Brunch is a meal that promises to delight all, from the sweet to savory, to light to heavy. Joy Wilson, food blogger extraordinaire, has a knack for transforming seemingly simple meals with a twist, showing us that even our most classic recipes might be missing a little special “something”.

Buttermilk Biscuits with Bacon and Tomato Gravy, Earl Grey and Ricotta Waffles with Honey Sweet Cream, Watermelon- Mint Sangria, and other dishes provide an approachable sense of whimsy. Wilson makes recipes that are comfortable for both beginner and intermediate home chefs. Plus, she doesn’t leave you with a pantry full of ingredients you’ll use only once. Why not get inspired for an easy Galentine’s Potluck Brunch-each “gal” brings a dish (or cocktail) from the book!

4. Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaefer

Where would we be without our posses? Kayleen Schaefer takes a deeper dive into the history of the female friendship- how film, television, books, and media have shaped our understanding of our closest gal pals. It’s hard to think of a time when groups of women weren’t at the forefront of entertainment, but it’s important to distinguish the landmark, breakthrough moments before it became commonplace. The book is well researched, each cultural reference explained thoroughly without being too dry.

Mixed into the narrative is a touch of memoir. Schaefer explores her own journey with female friendships that is honest and relatable. Have you ever been in a position where you felt like you were a shitty friend? Chances are, yes! Careers, romantic relationships, children, illness- all of these factors contribute to the strength and weaknesses of these friendships, the bonds that stay strong or break. We owe it to ourselves to explore them further and further, and Schaefer gives us the perfect platform to do so.

Don’t forget to grab a copy for yourself, bring your buddy, and join us in March for our Girls’ Night In Book Club (#GNIReads) meetups!

Sandra Manley-Eichler is a full-time oncology social worker and part time book reviewer. You can follow her on Instagram and Goodreads.

Photo by Heather Sten for Girls’ Night In. Copyright - do not use without permission.