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2023 Bookish Books Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 30 books. 30% done!

2023 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska (1)
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- California (6)
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- Connecticut (1)
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- Washington, D.C.*


- Australia (3)
- Canada (6)
- England (12)
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My Progress:

27 / 51 books. 53% done!

2023 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

20 / 25 books. 80% done!

2023 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

33 / 50 books. 66% done!

Booklist Queen's 2023 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

37 / 52 books. 71% done!

2023 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

41 / 52 books. 79% done!

2023 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

27 / 40 books. 68% done!

2023 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

16 / 40 books. 40% done!

2023 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 25 books. 36% done!

2023 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Book Bingo Reading Challenge

19 / 25 books. 76% done!

2023 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

58 / 109 books. 53% done!

Children's Book Reading Challenge...For Adults!

Monday, April 18, 2022

Backman's Newest A Delightful Surprise

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Despite the ongoing popularity of Fredrik Backman's novels, I actually had little desire to read them. Nothing about their titles, cover art, or plot summaries really appeal to me. I likely would never have given them a chance at all if someone in my book club hadn't suggested Anxious People for our first read of 2022. As I waded into the story, my fears were confirmed. Backman's unique style was not for me! It seemed weird, over-the-top, and just...silly. To make matters worse, the story appeared to be about something that never actually happened to a group of snarky, annoying people. I don't think I even made it through the first chapter before I closed the book and set it aside. Because it was for book club, though, I decided to give it another shot. Once I really tuned in to Backman's rhythm, the story started to flow and I began to enjoy it, especially as I came to understand what it was really about. 

Here's the surface story: 

In a "not particularly large town" in Sweden, a group of strangers attends an open house for a modest apartment that is newly on the market. The showing is interrupted when an inept bank robber who has just failed to carry off a planned heist bursts through the door and takes the would-be buyers hostage. As the nervous bank robber tries to decide what to do next, the strangers—who include a heavily pregnant young lady and an 87-year-old woman—grapple with the unexpected turn of events. All of them are concealing their own worries, hopes, and hurts, each of which will come to light as the situation barrels toward its surprising conclusion.

Here's what it's really about:

Anxious People is a cleverly-told tale with lots of wisdom to share about life, love, human nature, and the ways in which all of us touch the lives of others. Although these interactions can seem completely inconsequential, it's often these exact meetings that can impact our lives forever. That interconnectedness that we all need and crave (even if we don't know we do) can be the very thing that saves us in the end. 

This novel turned out to be not at all what I expected—and I mean that in the best way possible. I didn't expect to enjoy Anxious People, but I did. Although its humor feels forced at times, there were other places in which it made me laugh out loud with genuine mirth. The characters charmed me and, absurd as the situation at the center of the novel becomes, the unfolding action kept me engaged. While I saw at least one of the big plot twists coming, another one took me completely, delightedly, by surprise. I can't say I abxolutely loved Backman's newest, but in the end, I found it entertaining, heartfelt, and life-affirming. The ladies in my book club who had read the author before all agreed that A Man Called Ove is a better book. Another friend of mine says Anxious People is her least favorite of Backman's novels. Her advice? "Read another, ASAP!" I think I shall do just that.

(Readalikes: I don't know what to compare Anxious People to. You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find


  1. I'm so glad you liked ANXIOUS PEOPLE. It's my favorite read this year (so far). I was so surprised that I loved it so much.

  2. I have this on my wish list. Lovely review, Susan, now I want to read it sooner!

  3. I'm happy to see that you gave Backman another shot at pleasing you. I grant you, he's quirky as can be, but I love his characters so much that the plots (good as they are) are kind of secondary to me. Do try the one called something like "My Grandmother Said to Tell You She's Sorry" sometime. Not sure of the exact title, but it's something like that. I think you'll like that one even more than "Anxious People." And there are two books featuring the same cheracters.

  4. I couldn't get into the one book of Backman's that I tried to read because I just didn't like his style of writing. But so many people love his books! I should really try him again sometime. :)

  5. I'm glad you gave this one a chance. I liked it as well, but not as much as BearTown.

  6. I had a hard time with A Man Called Ove because the way it treated suicide hit me wrong but I did enjoy it once I got past that. I haven't read anything else by Backman but this one sounds like it's one I should pick up.

  7. I thought this book was a slow starter. Actually my favorite book of his is Beartown.


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