Friends has to be one of my favorite TV shows. There’s something comforting about catching up with the Friends gang as they navigate life—they fall in love, have kids and change careers—all while having a good sense of humor. Even though I’ve seen every episode, I often catch myself watching rerun after rerun while my beloved Friends figure out a solution to the dilemma that’s plagued them for that episode.
And as a librarian, I’ve wondered what my Friends might be reading at home or while sipping a cup of Joe at the iconic Central Perk Coffee Shop. In honor of the show's 25th anniversary on September 22, here's what I think each character might be reading today.
Probably the quirkiest friend, Phoebe Buffay is a sweet-natured, vegetarian masseuse and amateur musician best known for writing and composing off-beat songs such as the iconic “Smelly Cat.” It’s no surprise that Phoebe would pick up the equally quirky graphic novel Manfried the Man. Imagine a world in which the roles of cat and human are reversed. Manfried is the stubborn but lovable pet man to his feline owner, Steve Catson. They depend on each other for love and companionship, and Manfried’s “Heys!” might remind you of the more commonly heard “meows” in our own world. When Manfried accidentally escapes from the house, Steve will do anything to get his little buddy—his man—back again.
Monica Geller-Bing, the overly competitive professional chef and most organized friend, has always enjoyed cleaning and organizing her home. So, of course she’s reading Marie Kondo’s popular book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying up. Monica is learning all about keeping the items that “spark joy” in her life and letting go of everything else. It’s leading to a much tidier house for her, husband Chandler, their twin teenagers and their pets.
Chandler Bing, best known for using sarcasm as a defense mechanism, is probably reading How to Ruin Everything, a funny yet lyrical essay collection about accepting defeat and using those lessons to grow as a person.
Joey Tribbiani, the lovable, slightly ditzy, professional actor and food-loving friend, is making a few changes in his life—he’s learning how to cook by paging through Instant Pot Italian. I imagine Monica would have gifted this to Joey to encourage him to get in the kitchen and cook a few simple and quick set-it-and-forget-it Italian favorites when no one else is around to feed him.
Next, we have Rachel Green, the fashion-forward career woman and loving mother. After a stint as a waitress, Rachel began a career in the fashion industry. It’s no surprise that she would read The Knockoff, a novel about a mid-career fashion magazine editor who must compete with a younger colleague as the magazine shifts from a printed publication to a mobile app.
Lastly, Ross Geller, the paleontologist, hopeless romantic and know-it-all friend, would be keeping up with dinosaurs and current events by reading The Dinosaur Artist. Ross would be enthralled with this true behind-the-scenes tale about the for-profit fossil trade—hunting for fossils, auctions, black markets, international law, legal ownership by private collectors, and the scientific value of the these magnificent skeletons.
What books would you recommend to our Friends?