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Friendaholic: Confessions of a Friendship Addict

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Though Day is adept at therapy-speak, she is far from the sole perpetrator. Its spores have travelled such vast distances, in fact, that they have successfully infiltrated most of our institutions, publishing houses, entertainment platforms, and have even made it past supposed gatekeepers of our language, such as the Merriam-Webster dictionary, whose word of the year for 2022 was “gaslighting”. For those like Prince Harry, who like to talk a lot but think little, the ready-made quality of therapy-speak is of particular appeal. It provides off-the-shelf phrases for the tired of mind. It’s such a unique friendship that when it came to writing my new book, Friendaholic: Confessions of a Friendship Addict, I knew I had to include it. Joan has taught me so much about life, but also about what true friendship really is. It doesn’t matter that we live thousands of miles apart, or that we are separated by two decades, or that sometimes we will go months without speaking. Her friendship is offered without obligation or expectation. We offer each other generosity of spirit, no matter the circumstances. I always know she will think the best of me, and there’s a beauty to that when so many friendships become dulled by a sense of misplaced duty. The public moralist, the philanthropist, the technocrat and the activist: this is how historian Matthew Kelly characterises the women at the centre of his intriguing group biography. The philanthropist is Beatrix Potter but the others – Octavia Hill, Pauline Dower and Sylvia Sayer – are far less well known. Over a 150-year period, they independently fought to establish the regulatory tools still used to preserve England’s green spaces. Kelly proves a fastidious chronicler of their campaigning and if his prose is sometimes overly academic, it draws vitality from his subjects’ conviction that in alienating ourselves from nature, we curb our own happiness. Sam asked me what words would be on my plaque (which wasn't weird - she knows me well). Without hesitation, I said "Friend, swimmer, reader." Sam replied, "Not mother?" And no, 'mother' was not what immediately came to mind. Analyse that whatever way you want... actually, it has come up a few times in my own therapy and I'm no closer to understanding my response, short of saying that my friends always have been, and always will be extremely important to me. I think much of it relates to what I witnessed with my grandmother.

I was really excited to read this as I thought it would help me be a better friend and strengthen friendships. I couldn’t take much from it as most of the case studies seem to be about the author feeling overwhelmed by keeping up with friends (which isn’t the case with me!) And also Day brings her lovely writing style of honesty and humour which meant I devoured this in just a few days! Then, when a global pandemic hit in 2020, she was one of many who were forced to reassess what friendship really meant to them – with the crisis came a dawning realisation: her truest friends were not always the ones she had been spending most time with. Why was this? Could she rebalance it? Was there such thing as…too many friends? And was she really the friend she thought she was? Chapters confiding incidents of ghosting, friendship breakdowns, the impact of fertility issues on friendship and so on are interspersed with chapters devoted to Day’s five closest friends, as well as short testimonies from an array of individuals. Day’s particular predicaments won’t resonate with everyone but her fluid, conversational style makes for lightly entertaining reading (with darker moments). Those who consider the book in good faith might even find themselves Marie Kondo-ing their friendship circle – holding on to the ones that bring joy and clearing out the rest. Niamh Donnelly I had a bit of a weird moment a couple of years ago that turned out to be quite significant because I've thought about it often since. I walking with my friend Sam around Burnley Gardens. We came across this plaque on a bench overlooking a quiet corner of the gardens -This would be a great book to read in a trusted group of friends (if it wasnt too much over-sharing) or to return to again and again to see where things are at. Then, when a global pandemic hit in 2020, she was one of thousands of people forced to reassess what friendship really meant to them. With the crisis came a dawning realisation: her truest friends were not the ones she had been spending most time with. Why was this? Could she rebalance it? Was there such thing as…too many friends? And was she the friend she thought she was? I’ve never read a book about friendships before. This one really digs deep, is bravely revealing and makes me reflect on my own friendship habits, issues, and culture.” - Bernardine Evaristo

I have a friend who feels silence like physical pain. He told me this once, late at night. Everyone else had gone home to see their partners, see their kids or read a book. In short, they all had somewhere better to be. He did not. Neither, come to think of it, did I. selectedStore.City }}, {{ selectedStore.State }} {{ selectedStore.Country }} {{ selectedStore.Zip }} Members get the first chance to book our entire programme of events, including go-down-in-history gigs, concerts with world-class orchestras, and talks from cultural icons and political giants.This book definitely made me think a lot about the people in my life - the past and current friends that I’ve had and the roles they’ve played. It’s helped me to rationalise and reflect on my own experiences while reading about the authors. I feel a little less alone and a lot more equipped to handle certain situations with friends. It’s semi autobiographical which always gets me reading ( maybe I’m just nosey !) but is mixed in with real life case studies and covers all elements of friendship . From the impact of social media and huge world events ( Covid) to things like ghosting and toxic friendships. It definitely gets you to think about your own friends and how they benefit ( or drain) your life , also makes you think about how you can be a better friend . Having seen the light about her past self-sabotage, Day is determined to be ruthless in the future. She suggests, not quite jokingly, that it might be a good idea to send potential friends the equivalent of a pre-nup before agreeing to a first coffee date. On this document (you could have it laminated) you would list what you can and can’t offer a new person in your life. Mine, for instance, would explain that I don’t do phone calls but I will answer texts immediately. That I prefer cinema dates to ones in bars and that I don’t do hugs (it’s nothing personal, I just don’t). I am bad at birthday cards but good at emergency call-outs. My preference is for once-a-month meet-ups with an option to consider a mini-break in Prague if things go well. An astute analysis of what it means to be a friend, as well as a poignant discussion of what friendship means specifically to the text's author Elizabeth Day. It surveyed over 10,000 people across the world and found that the average age for meeting a best friend was twenty-one. The cultural perception of what a best friend was, and how many one should have, varied across countries. In India, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, people reported having three times the number of best friends as those in Australia, Europe and the US. Saudi Arabians had the highest average number of best friends at 6.6, while Britons had the lowest at 2.6. Americans are most likely to report having only one best friend. Fourteen percent had no best friend at all."

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I loved the exploration of not just what friendship is and means to people but that it's okay to end friendships, just as it is to end other relationships. And that it's not all about how many friends you have but the value you bring to your life.

I liked that phrase, because Joan is who I turn to at the hinges of my own personal history. She has journeyed with me through it all with endless reserves of compassion and kindness. I feel so grateful that the darkest point in my life brought me here, to one of the brightest friendships.As a society, there is a tendency to elevate romantic love. But what about friendships? Aren't they just as – if not more – important? As I read Elizabeth Day’s latest work of non-fiction, Friendaholic, I found myself texting friends, making plans. We’ll call it guilt. If Day was addicted to friendships, I was ambivalent. I had good friends but had never thought deeply about this social institution we were enacting. Had I been doing it wrong? As a society, there is a tendency to elevate romantic love. But what about friendships? Aren't they just as – if not more – important? So why is it hard to find the right words to express what these uniquely complex bonds mean to us? In Friendaholic: Confessions of a Friendship Addict, Elizabeth Day embarks on a journey to answer these questions." Elizabeth Day tells us stories from her own personal life. This will be a very relatable book for many readers. She explores friendships and relationships. This is a thought provoking read. We don't need a massive circle of friends to support us. You just need the right people in your life.

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