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6 books to read after 'The Celebrants' according to Steven Rowley

Looking for more tales of decade-spanning friendships? We got you covered.

"The Celebrants" by Steven Rowley will take you on an emotional journey. It certainly did for Jenna Bush Hager, who chose the book as her June 2023 Read With Jenna pick. She told TODAY the book would "make you cry on one page and laugh hysterically on the other.”

“Imagine your group of friends from college who know you better than anybody else. Who knew you before your marriages, your kids, your jobs,” Jenna says. “Upon losing one of their dearest friends, this group decides they’re going to meet and celebrate with each other when one of them needs it most.”

If you're looking for a book to read after "The Celebrants," author Rowley stopped by to recommend followups in conversation with his novel. The below six novels feature decade-long stories of friendship, college campuses and the surprises of life.

"The Friend" by Sigrid Nunez

The friends in "The Celebrants" are human — but people can be friends with animals, too, as this experimental and poignant book points out. "This National Book Award winner beautifully conveys with spare but comforting language the immense hardship of losing a friend — and how sharing our grief with a loved one (in this case a dog) can keep us tethered while we strive to heal," Rowley said.

"The Authenticity Project" by Clare Pooley

"The Authenticity Project" by Clare Pooley is a feel-good follow-up to "The Celebrants." The book "explores the idea that no one's life is exactly what it looks like from the outside and that there are friends waiting to embrace us at every age when we find the courage to share our true selves," Rowley says.

"The Interestings" by Meg Wolitzer

"The Interestings," like "The Celebrants," follows a group of summer camp friends as they age and face career and relationship shifts. Two of the friends go on to lead relatively normal lives — and the other two, a married couple, experience a shift in wealth and fortune, shaking up the dynamic. "Meg Wolitzer's tale is ambitious and complex, and beautifully captures how the shifting fortunes of individual friends can affect the entire group,"

"The Secret History" by Donna Tartt

Rowley recommends another Read With Jenna pick: The novel "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt, a classic college novel. Like Jenna, Rowley first read it in college, then reread it when Jenna chose it for her book club last December. "This is a darker look at friendship and morality, but it brims with every emotion and I was pleasantly surprised by how it resonated with me still," he says.

"The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan

If you enjoyed all the many different vignettes in "The Celebrants," then the structure of "The Joy Luck Club" will definitely appeal. Amy Tan's novel follows a group of Chinese immigrant moms and their Chinese American daughters, with chapters devoted to all of their stories. Rowley says the book "portrays friendships united by both grief and hope that's so strong it spans generations," and has stuck with him for decades thanks to its "incredible characters and the soaring feeling (he) had while reading it."

"A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara

Rowley says it would be "impossible" not to include "A Little Life" on this list. The book "explores how the families we're born into affect the ones we choose," he says. Like "The Celebrants," the book isabout a group of friends from college, but goes to darker places. "I know readers who have not been able to endure the immense trauma portrayed in this book, but those who have made it through to the end discover the incredible grace and restorative powers of friendship," he says.