ISO plot-driven, lighthearted fiction about bands of friends
January 13, 2019 6:27 PM   Subscribe

I would like to read books that feature groups of friends who love each other. I would like the book to be a page-turner and not depressing. Mysteries, romances, space operas, fantasy, literary fiction, whatever. Bonuses for comedy, sex/romance, novels that are part of a series, and settings that include real cities. I am new to genre fiction so “obvious” recommendations are fine too.

I need some escapist fun and camaraderie. Thanks for your recommendations!
posted by hungrytiger to Writing & Language (26 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
One of my favourite romance series is the Wallflowers series by Lisa Kleypas. Four women who are somehow undesirable decide to band together and find each other husbands. They are largely fairly light and entertaining, and while the focus is on the relationships between the hero and heroine of each book, the friendship amongst the women is important, too.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:40 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

How do you feel about YA novels? There are plenty of series like that. I still read the Circle of Three series by Isobel Bird for my teen witch fix.
posted by mermaidcafe at 6:40 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

The Expanse! Space opera series where the crew of the ship are all BFFs (moreso in the books than in the tv show btw). Defs a “found family” vibe.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 6:49 PM on January 13 [4 favorites]

Becky Chambers.
posted by jeather at 6:57 PM on January 13 [6 favorites]

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers, is the first clear answer to this. Not heavily plot-driven, but fast-moving and fun, sweet and absolutely heartwarming. (unsurprisingly, crossposting)

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, by Margaret Killjoy. Radical anarchist drifters investigating the supernatural. It's very much about how to accept everyone. (Novella; two in the series)

Jackaby, by William Ritter. This is the beginning of a series about a woman who becomes the assistant to a sort of supernatural Sherlock Holmes character.

The Clockwork Boys, by T. Kingfisher (and the sequel, The Wonder Engine. It's really one long story split into two books, but they're both out). Band of misfits are sent to investigate an unstoppable army.

Maresi, by Maria Turtschaninoff (NOT the sequel; that is dark as hell). This was the most heartwarming book. It's about an island convent where only women are allowed. They have to fight to remain free and safe.

Artemis, by Andy Weir is a lot of fun--it has the pacing and cleverness of The Martian; the main character considers herself a bit of a loner, but is deeply embedded in her community in a small city on the moon.
posted by gideonfrog at 6:59 PM on January 13 [4 favorites]

The Rogues of the Republic trilogy. It’s definitely a found family, and the love grows over the course of the books. In some cases, it becomes romantic love, too. (No on-page sex, though.) Comedic fantasy. Firefly meets Leverage meets the Wizard of Oz. And if you’re into audiobooks, this one is superbly done. No real cities. But the cities are pretty fab.
posted by greermahoney at 7:21 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

I am a huge fan of The Expanse, but it's not anything close to lighthearted.

Nthing the Becky Chambers books and the Jackaby series, which I liked enough that I'm thinking about buying it in physical form. And the T. Kingfisher books.

I'd recommend K.J. Charles's Sins of the Cities series as well.
posted by Lexica at 7:26 PM on January 13

Take a look at Iris Murdoch, but the right titles are escaping me right now.
posted by 8603 at 7:32 PM on January 13

I‘m excited to check these books out!

Also I forgot, one more thing I really like is non-ambitious or low-aspirational protagonists, and/or jerks who know they are jerks. (Like how Philip Marlowe knows a case won’t make him rich and might kill him, but he takes it anyway. Or Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy knows he’s a bit of a jerk. Or Jessica Jones, her show is darker than what I’m looking for but she definitely lacks pretensions.)
posted by hungrytiger at 7:41 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Steven Brust's Phoenix Guards and its sequels.

It's one of my favorite "found family" or "band of friends" series. It's about four friends who meet each other on the way to the capital, where they become royal guards and (of course) get involved in political intrigue. There is drama, but it's never dark. Each character has a distinct personality and their interactions are wonderful.

Some caveats about it: It takes place in a fantasy universe that Brust introduces in another series. I like that series a lot too, but it's written in a very different style. It also has strong friendships (the core cast are friends), but it's less "band of friends" than you might be looking for.

It also is written specifically as a semi-parodic pastiche/rip-off of Dumas. I think it's hilarious, but the style isn't for everyone. He even has a pompous fictional narrator.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:43 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

The Harry Potter books fit this.
posted by phunniemee at 7:43 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

This is a job for the denizens of Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. 8 or 9 books all told, by Spider Robinson.
posted by scalefree at 8:08 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Both the Fred the Vampire Accountant series and the Super Powereds series by Drew Hayes are great for this. Both have romance and comedy too.
posted by bananacabana at 8:27 PM on January 13

Mmmm... Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard series, starts with the Lies of Locke Lamora.
posted by stormyteal at 10:49 PM on January 13

Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee is certainly about a group of friends and it has a fair amount of plot. Reviews seem to have been mixed but I like Meera Syal's style.

The Radiant Way by Margaret Drabble is the first of a trilogy about the lifelong friendship of a group of women.
posted by BibiRose at 3:38 AM on January 14

this tvtropes page
posted by Cozybee at 7:59 AM on January 14

This one is really obvious, but The Lord of the Rings trilogy hits a lot of your preferences. The first volume, Fellowship of the Ring, has some light-hearted passages but the series gets darker as it goes along.

The Princess Bride qualifies, I think.
posted by JonJacky at 11:21 AM on January 14

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean, definitely hits a lot of your preferences. Its setting is supposed to be a fictional college but the real model, Carleton, is recognizable.
posted by JonJacky at 11:29 AM on January 14

Among Others by Jo Walton
posted by JonJacky at 11:32 AM on January 14

Funny Girl, by Nick Hornby. About a group of actors, writers, and directors of a popular TV series, set in London in the 1960s.
posted by JonJacky at 11:40 AM on January 14

Seanan McGuire's October Daye (Goodreads link) series is very found-family and full of friends and allies, about a woman who a knight of Faerie but also has experience living in the human world. It can be dark at times, as Faerie is a difficult place, but it's never grimdark.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:57 PM on January 14

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. Honestly, most books by Jennifer Crusie are humorous novels featuring a romance and a cast of wacky friends, but this one especially fits the “friends” bill.
posted by epj at 3:26 PM on January 14

The Ex series by Peter Clines. It's about a bunch of superheroes trying to save as many humans as possible in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. The first one is called Ex-Heroes (Goodreads link).
posted by OrangeDisk at 5:41 PM on January 14

How about The Magicians, by Lev Grossman? Seems to fit all of your criteria, and a highly enjoyable series to boot!

(Apparently not that popular on Goodreads. But still worth taking a look, IMO)
posted by orange_square at 8:12 PM on January 15

Thank you for all these great suggestions, I’m putting them all in my library queue and am excited to read them!
posted by hungrytiger at 5:42 PM on January 20

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