While it may seem like just yesterday that a runaway bride swept into a coffee shop, made a few acquaintances, and seemingly never left the aforementioned coffee shop, it’s actually been over 26 years since Friends premiered. To celebrate the (surprisingly literary) sitcom, we’ve decided to dole out a few literary recommendations for our (imaginary) friends.
From newly single-life retail therapy, to Bloomingdales and Ralph Lauren, Rachel Green has often been synonymous with fashion and shopping. To cement Rachel’s fashionista status in this century, she should pick up a copy of Elizabeth Cline’s The Conscious Closet, which offers a roadmap of subtly creating change through smart fashion choices. While Friends may not be the poster child for feminism, in 1996 the women read the (fictional) Be Your Own Windkeeper and tackled the challenge of honing their inner power. To continue Rachel’s feminist education, she should put a trio of powerhouse female authors on reserve: Roxane Gay, Rebecca Solnit, and Margaret Atwood.
Possibly one of the earliest examples of a mansplainer, Ross might first want to borrow a few of Rachel’s feminist tomes. In the case he’d rather focus on the nitty-gritty of knowledge, the Library’s list of Bernstein Award winners, the prestigious award given to working journalists whose books bring clarity and public attention to important issues, most recently honored the work of Rachel Louise Synder, Shane Bauer, and Masha Gessen. For a fictional turn, N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy―a series set within a fantasy world, that deals with complex―cultural issues, might appeal to both the nerdy and intellectual sides of Ross.
Friendship, love, and cooking―the three pillars of Monica Gellar. Two books―an old classic and a powerful newcomer―should jump to the top of her holds list. Nora Ephron’s Heartburn masterfully combines heartache and humor (not unlike Friends), and even provides Monica with a few new recipes. We also recommend Midnight Chicken, Ella Risbridger’s cookbook that manages to simultaneously help with party planning and the hardest edges of depression. Practical, yet deeply introspective, a one-stop shop for Monica Gellar. If nothing else, Monica can just grab a copy of a certain book on cleanliness and rage about the fact she didn’t write it first.
The group’s resident comedian might want to bring his humor into the 21st century with the help of Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, and Issa Rae. However, as the only person who seemed to regularly go to his job—and even went through a career change, Chandler might be interested in some nonfiction works focused on the business aspect of today’s world. Super Pumped, reporter Mike Isaac’s new book on Uber, is a compelling read that is sure to go great with an endless cup of coffee.
A nineties-hippie fever dream of a woman, 2019-Phoebe would undoubtedly have already grabbed a copy of Sami Main’s How to Deal: Tarot for Everyday Life, and given the gang personal readings about their dramatic lives. From there, she’d proffer up a bag of crystals while consulting Aisha Amarfio’s guide to crystals and then finally finish up the session with astrological advice—wisdom courtesy of Astrology for Happiness and Success by Mecca Woods.
“Beth dies?” For the Friends fanatics, it’s hard to forget the one where Joey fell in love with Little Women and his subsequent terror at the prospect of sweet Beth dying. Recommended to him by Rachel, Joey in turn suggests his favorite book—The Shining. Knowing his enjoyment of both, Gothic Horror might be the genre for Joey. Classic with a hint of spook, a quick trip through the Library’s Brief History of Gothic Horror, might lead to reserves of Frankenstein, Carmilla, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.
Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!