Alice Gregory pans Carlin Flora’s new book, Friendfluence, pejoratively labeling it an example of “laboratory-approved self-help” that misses most of what is actually fascinating about friendship:

“Solid friendships can help you shed pounds, sleep better, stop smoking, and even survive a major illness,” Flora writes, and from the work of psychiatrists, evolutionary biologists, and anthropologists, she draws self-evident conclusions: companionship makes us happy, children who are valued amongst their peers do better in life, college students send more e-mails to their close friends than their acquaintances, friendships provide opportunities for storytelling. The banality of these conclusions provides a taste of the banality of this book. It is difficult, but apparently not impossible, to finish a 240-page nonfiction book and learn practically nothing.