There is no denying the extraordinary talent of Irish author Sally Rooney. Often hailed as the first great millennial novelist and the “Salinger for the Snapchat generation,” her prose is at once distinct and earnest yet muted and informal.
Her character-driven novels hook readers almost instantly, reflecting an aching and emotional view of coming of age in the modern world and often reflecting the author’s Marxist viewpoint.
If you enjoyed Sally Rooney’s beautiful, simplistic writing in her debut novel, Conversations with Friends, you’re probably hoping to find similar books to add to your TBR pile. We’ve rounded up the 20 best books like Conversations with Friends to get you started.
The 20 Best Books Like Conversations with Friends
Sirens & Muses by Antonia Angress
In her debut novel, author Antonia Angress explores the rivalry and relationships between four artists at an elite art school. Nineteen-year-old student Louisa Arceneaux falls into a deeply sensual and artistic connection with her roommate, Karina Piontek, while simultaneously finding herself drawn to Preston Utley, a senior amid a public feud with Robert Berger, a visiting professor and painter struggling to resurrect his artistic relevancy. The four struggle with their identities – artistic and otherwise – in the New York art world after Preston devises an elaborate hoax.
With a critical focus on art, class, money, and youth, Sirens and Muses is a perfect novel for fans of Conversations with Friends. Buy a copy here.
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
Naiose Dolan is another Irish author fans of Sally Rooney will want to add to their shelves. In her debut novel, Exciting Times, Dolan explores the love triangle of millennial Irish ex-pat Ava, torn between her live-in British banker boyfriend and Edith, a lawyer Ava finds herself inexplicably drawn to.
The raw honesty and dry humor of Exciting Times will stay with you long after the end. Pick up a copy here.
Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey
Miranda Popkey’s debut novel is a provocative telling of the awkward and often uncomfortable coming-of-age experience illustrated through twenty years of conversations, mostly between women. Touching upon themes such as sensuality, feminism, motherhood, guilt, art, and pain, among others, this is one book you do not want to miss.
Get a copy of Topics of Conversation here.
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Emily Henry comes a contemporary romance novel that will satisfy any fan of Conversations with Friends. Career-driven literary agent Nora Stephens has always put her ambitions first and love second. When she agrees to spend a summer vacation with her little sister, Libby, in a small town for a much-needed getaway (and maybe some romance), the last person she expects to see is Charlie, the editor she’s had less-than-desirable encounters with in the past. But their chance encounters might be the perfect plot twist neither of them is prepared for.
Pick up this 2022 Goodreads Winner for Best Romance here.
Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors
Coco Mellors’s remarkable debut novel Cleopatra and Frankenstein is an absolute must-read for all readers of Conversations with Friends. This moving and heartbreaking tale follows twenty-four-year-old painter Cleo who impulsively marries Frank, a successful painter who promises her all the opportunities for the life and career she’s dreamed of. Instead, both find their lives irrevocably changed, and together they maneuver the ups and downs of marriage and everyone that comes with it.
Find your copy of Cleopatra and Frankenstein here.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This outstanding novel from New York Times bestselling author Taylor Reid Jenkins is a beautiful, layered fictional portrait of an aging Hollywood icon and the pressures of the glamorous 1950s.
An unremarkable magazine reporter, Monique is stuck in a dead-end job and her husband has left her. So, she isn’t sure why Evelyn Hugo chose her to tell the infamous Hollywood icon’s life story. But as Evelyn’s story unfolds, Monique learns their lives are heartbreakingly intertwined.
Dive into this historical fiction about love, identity, and fame. Pick up The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo here.
Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
In her debut novel, journalist and award-winning author Dolly Alderton delivers a contemporary romance story that simultaneously explores feminism, love, friendships, and family. Follow protagonist 32-year-old Nina Dean as she explores a dating app to find true love and lands herself in a seemingly perfect relationship with Max. Then one day, months after professing his love, Max ghosts her.
Ghosts is a poignant, hilarious, and touching telling of life as a single, successful 30-something. You can buy it here.
Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman
Elissa Sussman plays with our culture’s obsession with celebrity and tabloids in her remarkable contemporary romance novel Funny You Should Ask, a Goodreads Choice Award and 2022 Goodreads Nominee for Best Romance.
Writer Chani Horowitz got her first fifteen minutes of fame in her twenties when she wrote a profile about megastar Gabe Parker, their 72 hours together getting plastered all over the tabloids. Now, ten years later, she’s still bombarded with questions about that weekend. But now his PR team wants them to have a second interview, and Chani is forced to face the feelings she’s spent a decade trying to forget.
If you want to see if Chani and Gabe were ever more than just a one-weekend PR stunt, buy the book here and find out.
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
If you enjoy witty and cleverly written stories that portray pieces of life so authentically, you’ll wonder if you’re actually reading a memoir, The Idiot by Elif Batuman is for you.
This is the story of Selin, a freshman at Harvard university circa 1995, as she embarks on a journey across a country and into herself, discovering her destiny to become a writer and the awkward, turbulent experience of first love.
The Idiot is a funny, tender, and beautifully written novel that fans of Conversations with Friends will want to savor. Get a copy here.
Bunny by Mona Awad
Given its contemporary horror/thriller nature, Bunny by Mon Awad may not seem like an obvious choice for this list but trust us: this wild, darkly funny novel is an excellent choice for anyone who enjoyed Conversations with Friends.
While earning her MFA, Samantha is surprised when she is invited to join the “Smut Salon” of the Bunnies, the cliquey rich girls Samantha has always despised. However, curiosity gets the better of her, and Samantha is drawn into the midst of their sinister world, finding herself down a dark and deadly rabbit hole.
Get lost in this fantastic novel about the power of imagination and what it means to belong. You can find it here.
Other People’s Clothes by Calla Henkel
Another novel featuring artists in New York City, Other People’s Clothes by Calla Henkel will have you binge-reading to find out what happens next.
Haley and Zoe are ex-pats living in Berlin, renting an apartment from infamous crime writer Beatrice Becks. When strange things happen at the apartment, the two women suspect Beatrice is using them to write her next big thriller. But, as they throw crazy parties to throw her off, they find themselves in an out-of-control situation, much darker than they anticipated.
Heartburn by Nopa Ephron
From the award-winning creator of Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally comes a hilarious and heartbreaking novel about the end of a perfect marriage.
Cookbook author Rachel Samstat is seven months pregnant when she finds out her husband is in love with someone else. What follows is a story filled with neurotic obsessions and hilarious, self-deprecating humor, with diamond rings and recipes to boot.
Buy a copy of this remarkably funny novel here.
Almost Adults by Ali Pantony
Nothing says coming-over-age like the title Almost Adults, and Ali Pantony perfectly captures the joys and pitfalls of adulting in her debut novel.
Follow four women as they unpack their lives and problems, each learning just how hard it truly is to navigate adulthood. But at least they can do it together.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Award-winning author Zadie Smith doesn’t hold back in Swing Time as she explores class, friendship, and cultural identity issues.
Told from the perspective of an unnamed narrator, we follow her and Tracey, two childhood friends from North London hellbent on becoming dancers. And while Tracey has the talent, our narrator does not, and their complicated friendship ends.
Get a copy of this phenomenal novel here.
You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
Not only is the novel You Exist Too Much by Arab-American writer Zaina Arafat an award-winning book, but it’s also the favorite book of 2020 of the one-and-only Roxane Gay. It is also the heart-wrenchingly perfect read for folks who love Conversations with Friends.
Told from the perspective of a bisexual Palestinian-American woman, this novel traces the protagonist’s journey from her teenage years to adulthood as she grapples with cultural, religious, and sexual identities.
Buy a copy of You Exist Too Much here.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
New York Times bestselling author Brit Bennett delivers a passionate historical fiction of identity, family, and the history of passing in America from the 1950s to the 1990s.
Desiree and Stella Vignes may be identical twins, but their adult lives are anything but the same. While one lives in the same southern town the sisters grew up in, the other is passing for white with an oblivious white husband. But it will take more than miles and lies to sever the connection between their lives, including their daughters’.
Find a copy of this compelling, raw, and unforgettable novel here.
Body Grammar by Jules Ohman
Body Grammar is the debut novel from author Jules Ohman and is a fantastic must-read for fans of Conversations with Friends.
Lou is an eighteen-year-old who loves to take pictures, especially of her close friend Ivy, whom she happens to be secretly in love with. Although Lou is sought-after for her stunning androgynous looks by modeling agents in her city, she wants nothing to do with the modeling world. But after a tragic accident, Lou finds herself in the glossy, cutthroat modeling world in New York City, grappling with the loss of her love and her identity.
This queer love story explores themes of finding love and loving oneself, grief, and solidifying yourself in the world. Pick it up here.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
In her debut novel, Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid takes you on a journey exploring privilege, race, love, family, and adulthood.
Broke and directionless twenty-five-year-old Emira Tucker is a babysitter for Alix Chamberlain, a wealthy white woman who runs a woman-centric brand. Emira is accused of kidnapping the child, Briar, while they are at a supermarket one night, complete with onlookers and someone filming the whole scene. But the video sparks an undoing for Emira and Alix, professionally, personally, and individually.
Find out what happens in this fun, touching, and extraordinary story by buying a copy here.
The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride
Irish author Eimear McBride takes you on a breathtaking journey of love, innocence, and growing up in her book The Lesser Bohemians.
Eilis is Irish, eighteen, and has just arrived in London, where she will attend drama school. When she meets thirty-nine-year-old professional actor Stephen, a passionate relationship ensues – with enough turbulence to be the undoing of them both.
Buy a copy of this award-winning and critically acclaimed novel here.
Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
What would a list of books like Conversations with Friends be without another Sally Rooney novel?
In her third novel, she takes you inside the love quadrangle of Alice, Eileen, Felix, and Simon as they navigate coming into adulthood, dating, breakups, sex, and friendships, with a side of anxiety about the state of the world they inhabit.
This gripping novel is romantic, mournful, and intimate, with the distinct style of the one and only Sally Rooney. Purchase it here.
Sally Rooney has a knack for capturing the beauty and horrors of the millennial coming-of-age experience. Conversations with Friends is a triumph of a novel, detailing the vulnerability and insecurity of its characters through the simple style of Rooney. These are just 20 of the best books like Conversations with Friends. We hope you enjoy them!
Is there a second book for Conversations with Friends?
No, Conversations with Friends does not have a sequel. However, Sally Rooney has published two other novels so far, Normal People and Beautiful World, Where Are You. Keep an eye on Sally’s website for announcements about new books she will publish.
Is Conversations with Friends becoming a TV show?
Yes! The Conversations with Friends TV series was developed by Elemental Pictures for BBC Three and Hulu. The 12-episode series was released on May 15, 2022.
What books are featured in Conversations with Friends?
In the TV series, there are several books we see the character Frances with on screen, as her character is deeply connected to literature. The books are:
1. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennesee Williams
2. Childhood by Tove Ditlevsen
3. Citizen by Claudia Rankine
4. The Seven Ages by Louise Glück
5. The Major Works by Robert Browning
What is the Sally Rooney effect?
The Sally Rooney effect is an expression of how this one author has managed to influence a barrage of cultural trends such as fashion, baby names, the books people read, college choices…and the list goes on. Such is the effect of writing excellent books that become popular TV series.
Why are there no quotation marks in Sally Rooney’s books?
Forgoing traditional quotation marks around dialogue is an interesting and conscious choice Salley Rooney makes in her books. When asked why, her reply was, “It’s a novel written in first person, isn’t it all quotation?”
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