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Chapter 38 - Anxious People

I just finished reading Anxious People for one of my book clubs. Let me start by saying that I love the Swedish writer, Fredrik Backman. I find him funny, insightful, clever, easy to read and a great storyteller. Just based on his writing, I want to know him as I can only believe he would be all those things in person. According to his publisher's (Simon and Schuster) website, he is published in more than 40 countries and lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children.

The reason I love him so much is because his stories are so real and rich with universal truths. For me, a universal truth is something we all as humans experience regardless of your race, creed, socio-economic status, or education. Statements he makes in his books are profound and I wish when I started to read him I had kept a list of all the wisdom he imparts. Here are some of my favorite quotes and the books from which they come.

“The truth of course is that if people really were as happy as they look on the Internet, they wouldn’t spend so much damn time on the Internet, because no one who’s having a really good day spends half of it taking pictures of themselves. Anyone can nurture a myth about their life if they have enough manure, so if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, that’s probably because it’s full of shit.”

Anxious People is a book about a bank robbery that goes well not bad exactly but differently. It is full of interesting characters and just one of them happens to be the bank robber!

“Never trust people who don't have something in their lives that they love beyond all reason.”

Beartown is about a small Swedish town's junior hockey team and its' impact on the town, the coach, and his family. It has been made into an HBO Max series.

“You only need one ray of light to chase all the shadows away,”

A Man Called Ove is a story of an unhappy man who finds kindred spirits in his next door neighbors, an immigrant family from Iran.

“Only different people change the world,” Granny used to say. “No one normal has ever changed a crapping thing.”

“Having a grandmother is like having an army. This is a grandchild’s ultimate privilege: knowing that someone is on your side, always, whatever the details.”

In My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry Elsa is 7 years old and different. Her grandmother is 77 years old and maybe a little crazy. She is Elsa's best friend and tells her stories where the heroes are different as well. When her grandmother dies, she asks Elsa to visit various from her past people to give them a message from her.

“Everyone is a hundred different things, but in other people’s eyes we usually get the chance to be only one of them.”

Us Against You is a continuation of Beartown with the same cast of characters and even more clever writing by Backman. My understanding is that there will be a third book in this series The Winners to come out in 2022.

“An unreasonable amount of paperwork is required these days just to be a human being.”

“If a human being closes her eyes hard and long enough, she can remember all the times she has made a choice in her life just for her own sake. And realize, perhaps, that it has never happened.”

Britt-Marie Was Here Britt-Marie was a minor character in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry and not a particularly loved one. She decides to leave her cheating husband and gets a job as the caretaker of a soon-to-be-demolished rec center in the backwater town of Borg. Only then does Britt-Marie come into her own.

“Almost all grown adults walk around full of regret over a good-bye they wish they’d been able to go back and say better.”

While And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer is a novella, it still packs a punch for the wisdom it shares. It is the story of of an elderly man's struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family's efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.

Do you have a favorite Backman book or quote? Please let me know.


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