Friendkeeping: A Field Guide to the People You Love, Hate, and Can’t Live Without

By Julie Klam

(Penguin, $25.95, 240 pages)

Who is this author?

An Empire Stater who grew up in Bedford and now lives in New York City, Julie Klam is best known for her earlier books, “You Had Me at Woof” and “Love at First Bark,” about the deep relationships between humans and dogs. Having explored our affection for man’s best friends, she now takes on best friends themselves. Klam’s writerly bio includes contributions to O: The Oprah Magazine, Rolling Stone, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and The New York Times Magazine. She also wrote for the VH1 TV show, “Pop-Up Video,” which earned her an Emmy nomination.

What is this book about?

Yes, today is Valentine’s Day, but this is not a book about romantic love – there certainly are enough of those out there. Instead, it’s about the platonic relationships that sustain us, sometimes pain us and serve to explain us to ourselves and others. Klam digs deep into what makes BFFs, and the weird problems that arise in situations where, for example, you love your pal but can’t stand his or her spouse, or when jealousy of a friend’s achievements sours your relationship. She also explores the relatively new but increasingly common world of online friendships. (Perhaps Manti Teo should have read this book.) Using anecdotes from her own life, she offers new twists on the inner workings of connections so familiar that we often fail to appreciate how complex and important they are to our journey through life, from childhood to old age.

Why you’ll like it:

Klam is writing about the basics of life, but she does it with a fresh eyes, verve and often laugh-out-loud humor. Anyone who has had a long friendship that seems able to survive despite long periods of inattention, or who looks back at how friendships during early life helped shape their personalities or pointed them down certain paths, will appreciate Klam’s assessments of this powerful kind of togetherness that  often lasts longer than marriages do. Friendship, she makes clear, can be a tremendous source of happiness, so long as each partner gets as much as he or she gives. This book will make you think deeply about a part of life too often taken for granted.

What others are saying:

Library Journal says: “Klam calls friends the “comfort food” of life. With her characteristic self-deprecating wit, she shares stories of her own attempts at befriending, from the insecurity-driven missteps of childhood to the competition-based conflicts in early adulthood and the satisfying long-distance relationships of midlife. Klam has an admitted affinity for eccentric types, and her anecdotes are as amusing as they are insightful. In recounting her own experiences, she demonstrates the importance of overcoming such common friendship hurdles as time constraints, envy, illness and “unfortunate” partners. She explains how and when to let go with grace. Klam … sends a poignant and powerful message to women: don’t take your friends for granted, and nurture and preserve the friendships you treasure. VERDICT Friendship is a universally appealing theme for women, and this
entertaining book will strike responsive chords with women of all ages

“The book you will want to give all your best friends, not as a nudge-nudge, hint-hint reminder of what it takes to be a good friend, but rather as a celebration of just how great friends can be. And if they (or you) pick up a few hints on how to be a good friend, so much the better for everyone. We all need reminding once in a while that connection takes more than just showing up for drinks or a walk — and Klam offers the reminders with her usual big heart, goofy humor, and open admissions,” says The Huffington Post.

“[Klam is] taking seriously something, namely adult friendships, that often turns into the wallpaper of cultural life: something that’s there, and that’s lovely, and that ideally you don’t have to think about, but not something that you would delve into deeply,” says

“Klam is funny. Not cute or amusing, but laugh-out-loud, borderline too-much-information funny… With “Friendkeeping,” Klam proves that she is no one-trick pony,” says BookPage.

Kirkus Reviews says: “Zealous, funny and rambling accounts of a New York writer’s many friendships. Klam …. describes herself on the first page as “a middle-aged person who uses the term ‘BFF’ without irony.” Her meandering text goes on to describe the multiple varieties of her friendships, starting in childhood. … Klam’s voice is often flat-out hilarious. She retains the dry, self-deprecating tone of fellow conversational memoirist Jen Lancaster, and no matter how stale or hackneyed the subject, Klam never fails to come up with terrific comic vignettes and sharp one-liners….”

When is it available?

Klam’s book is waiting to befriend you at the Downtown Hartford Public Library and its Barbour and Ropkins branches.

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