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Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond

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3.69  ·  Rating details ·  354 ratings  ·  80 reviews
An engaging and deeply reported investigation of friendship: its evolution, purpose, and centrality in human and nonhuman lives alike.

The bonds of friendship are universal and elemental. In Friendship, journalist Lydia Denworth visits the front lines of the science of friendship in search of its biological, psychological, and evolutionary foundations. Finding it to be as o
...more
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published January 28th 2020 by W. W. Norton Company
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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Lydia Denworth
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I not only read this, I wrote it! So I am understandably biased. But upon re-reading it in preparation for publication, I've realized something important. People ask about books you read that change your life. I can say that reporting this book changed my life. It gave me permission to hang out with my friends more. I hope it will do the same for everyone else who reads it. ...more
Camelia Rose
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, science
This book, which centers around friendship, is part psychology and part animal study (primatology). It is well-written and easy to read.

What I've found in the book:

1. There is an evolution basis for friendship. Friendship (social bond between non-kins) does not only exist in human society. The author described several animal studies, especially primates. A study of the structure of social relationships among female baboons in Moremi, Botswana shows: 1) the strength of females’ social bonds is th
...more
MBJ
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I got an early copy of the book and I already feel like it has had an impact on me. It is a great kick off book for 2020. Instead of skipping wine in January for my health, I'm having more wine and seeing friends which is far more important and fun. It is a great read filled with both great science and personal anecdotes on the importance of investing in our most basic relationships. It makes a compelling argument for doubling down on good friends. I thoroughly enjoyed it. ...more
Mehrsa
Apr 01, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a collection of other studies about mirroring and the need to bond. Basically, our brains are geared toward social interactions. This is basic evolutionary biology covered in a lot of other books. It is useful to have a focus on just one thread (friendship), but it did not seem all that new.
Amber Spencer
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved a lot about this. I had a lot of friends as a teenager, but I often felt bad for wanting to be with them. I have tried not to pass that on to my kids and realize how important friends are to teenagers and this book is filled with the science to back up my feelings.
As an adult I have found some really amazing friends and the ones that want to give back to the relationship with me are the ones I still hang out with and see. Friendship goes two ways. Making time for friends and making time
...more
Emily Yocom
Nov 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
It was a chore to get through this book. It’s more about primates than anything, and reads like a literary review in many instances. The author spends more time introducing a researcher’s background than the research itself. And just when I thought we were getting to the meaty, human friendship-related studies (not until chapter 6, by the way), we went right back into the author’s anecdotal experience observing monkeys. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in learning more a ...more
Leah MacFarlane
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this fascinating book on the science of friendship. The author presents an amazing amount of information in the most readable, compelling way. It is remarkable to find out how friendship has influenced and been influenced by human evolution, and the actual biological power of the friendship bond. Denworth creates wonderful images of her global travels to meet and see in person the network of scientists who are working on this ground-breaking area. They are all so memorably dra ...more
Anna Walker-Roberts
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m making a film about friendship, specifically about platonic best friends, and read this book as part of my research. I loved understanding more of the science and biology behind friendship. What really hooked me initially was Lydia’s dismissal of the friendship chapter in C.S. Lewis’ book The Four Loves. I read that book and wanted to rip out the whole chapter on friendship. I immediately felt like Lydia and I would be friends :)

She does a great job of sharing the science and data while int
...more
Alison Ezard
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I started reading this book days before quarantining became our collective dystopian reality. Finishing it alone in my apartment, on the heels of a falling out with a friend of nearly ten years, while feeling sick and having not left my building for (I think) four days was poignant, to say the least.

Global context aside, this was an excellent read. Denworth handles this complicated, primal, and deeply personal topic with great care and strikes just the right balance between being playful and in
...more
Ari Robin McKenna
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviews-by-ari
Though I appreciate the wide sampling of sources collated into a single volume, "Friendship" doesn't reach for revelatory depth. The strongest theme in the book is the author's personal anecdotes about her family, which while not unrelated or forced, end up becoming central to the book, the main take-away. ...more
Moira Bailey
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lydia Denworth’s Friendship translates cutting-edge science in telling a compelling story that details and underscores how close connections are not only necessary - they will extend, and potentially save, our lives. She reveals and revels in a topic that is universally important and endlessly interesting.
Charles Nguyen
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: friendships
I love this book as it talks about the science of friendship. Mix in a bit of monkey science with attachment, friendship in school, the deepness of connections, heredity or genetic expression, and rounding it off with the impact on our lives... woo! Much of this science is current and up-to-date. It's been a while since I've read something that triggered about 20 more books into my "to-read" list. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to think about what makes friends tick. Friendship must be ...more
Michelle
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lydia Denworth's comprehensive look at the evolution and necessity of friendship is highly informative and engaging. I don't think I've ever devoured a nonfiction book quite this quickly, and that was all due to Denworth's writing style--she ably breaks down even complicated scientific terms and ideas so anyone can understand them by illustrating unfamiliar concepts with stories and analogies from her own life.

Learning more about what scientists are currently discovering about the importance of
...more
Christine
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5 Did we really need 250+ pages to tell us the importance of friendship?
Alana Benjamin
May 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
If you are interested in the minutiae of the human connection in our lives, this is the book for you.
It is a very wonky exploration of the effects of friendship, loneliness, and lack of connection on our overall health and by extension life fulfillment and longevity. (a relatively new area of study)

In between the many many case studies and journal articles, there are some very interesting facts and information on attachment, social connection, and bonds as we age. I was most intrigued by facts
...more
Steph Holmes
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to have read an early release of Lydia Denworth’s book—Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond. It is beautifully written and seamlessly weaves cutting edge science with the essential role of friendship. I was completely engaged by the clear explanations of the work of the scientists who have studied multiple species—from rhesus monkeys to zebra fish—to explain our interactions with certain people and what we expect and, more importa ...more
Melinda
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
But for the persistence of a close friend, the client would have died. That was the take-away from a client meeting I had a year or so ago. Like many people, the client was older, single and lived alone. Contrary to the client's normal ways, a Saturday evening dinner was canceled because the client was under the weather.



The next morning the client called in sick to teach Sunday School, and upon hearing this news the client's astute and caring friend new something was amiss and showed up at the
...more
Brittney Sooksengdao
Jun 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Poignant time during quarantine to have read this book about how social isolation is as big of a risk factor for mortality as smoking. Super interesting read overall though. How crazy is it that we think it’s crazy to realize that spending our time cultivating a deep and meaningful social network of friends is ACTUALLY medically/societally/personally valuable towards physical health and longevity? It seems obvious and yet..
Julie
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great book with lots of research. Denworth communicated tough scientific and psychological theories, experiments, and concepts in easily relatable and graspable language. She covers the evolutionary and biological need for friendships and how and why our brains respond to friendships the way they do. I wish there had been more about the evolutionary biology of friendships and less about the impact of social media.
Banko
Aug 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
it took me 7 days to through the book content, thumbs up i just love lydia Denworth content always my best author check similar information here
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Kes
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book on why you should have friends. I also appreciated the distinction it draws between types of personalities and friendships: solitude is when you're ok with not having / having few friends; loneliness is when you want more friends than you have. Loneliness has a detrimental effect that is comparable to trauma (e.g. poverty).

It is a book that's sympathetic to the lack of friends and the physical impact it has on people (people with close knit communities live longer). I liked
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Tammy Strobel
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
FRIENDSHIP was engaging and enlightening. Denworth presented the science of friendship in a relatable way. Also, her personal stories cemented the ideas she presented in the book. Read this book and supercharge your friendships!
Bryn
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book was MOSTLY about how humans are social animals generally, not specific to friendship. The final chapter that got into friendship didn't feel particularly revelatory, although it reminds me of what I already know--how important my friends are to me and how cultivating those friendships is not only fun, but core to my physical and mental well-being. To summary the book in two sentences, "Waldinger[, Harvard professor who oversees a long-running study of well-being,] echoed Valliant, [fou ...more
Alex Koay
Mar 02, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christina Dudley
Mar 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This was an interesting read about the evolutionary purpose of friendship and biological underpinnings. I was delighted to learn that even fish have some fish version of pals. Sort of poignant to read about our need for social connection when we're all housebound, especially the older folks who might be in particular danger from loneliness.

If you're looking for a book that will make you want to call up and reinforce your ties to others, I would recommend The Village Effect.
...more
Tres Herndon
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting book. Some of it is kinda obvious, but the studies showing the physiological effect friendship can have (not just mental) is really cool. By the same token, loneliness can be very detrimental to your health. Especially with the pandemic, it's so important to keep up your friendships. ...more
Peter A
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
A fascinating read about the underlying evolutionary and biological basis for friendship.

The author is a gifted science writer who has conducted hours of research, talking with scientists, observing experiments, and understanding the concept presented in compiling this book.

In 1975, in E.O. Wilson’s Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, presented the idea that genes make us do what we do socially, namely it was not just culture that impacted our social behavior, was very controversial. However, scie
...more
Scott
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From macaques monkeys to teenagers, gaboons to senior citizens, Lydia Denworth carefully and methodically presents research and history of the study and data around friendships. Three main lessons emerged in this outstanding book :
1/ Social connections are really good for us, and loneliness kills.
2/ Quality matters as much or more than quantity.
3/ People In a Harvard study by Robert Waldinger found that those most satisfied at age 50, more then cholesterol or blood pressure or any other data p
...more
c2 cole
May 20, 2020 rated it liked it
I thought I'd be enthralled with this book as friendship is one of the topics that interests me most. And I thought it'd be a quick read since I'm reading it during the pandemic but no on both accounts. I found it grueling and had to force myself to finish it. I'm not sure exactly what was wrong with it. I felt as if Denworth included a lot of information on many studies in different areas, but not with enough depth for me to be truly interested. This was especially true in the earlier chapters ...more
Derek DeGroot
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
A deeper understanding of friendship- biologically and socially- is found here, rich with data and the clearly positive effects of friendship. It’s not shy about declaring how critical it is that social connection and loneliness be regarded as a public health issue, especially fascinating given today’s crisis. The most fascinating parts revolve around the fact that 50% of Americans say they are lonely- although the book is careful to separate physical isolation (solitude) from emotional isolatio ...more
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Lydia Denworth is a Brooklyn-based science journalist whose work is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. A contributing writer for Scientific American and Psychology Today, she has also written for the Atlantic and the New York Times.

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  Author Lydia Denworth is a science journalist who has written about everything from Alzheimer’s to zebrafish. In her latest book,...
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