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2024 Bookish Books Reading Challenge (Hosted by Yours Truly)

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My Progress:


5 / 30 books. 17% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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My Progress:


9 / 51 states. 18% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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6 / 50 books. 12% done!

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12 / 50 books. 24% done!

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23 / 50 books. 46% done!

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20 / 52 books. 38% done!

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16 / 40 books. 40% done!

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13 / 40 books. 33% done!

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2 / 25 books. 8% done!

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11 / 26.2 miles. 42% done!

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11 / 100 books. 11% done!

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24 / 104 books. 23% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

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23 / 52 books. 44% done!

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My Progress


23 / 165 books. 14% done!
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?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

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Reading

<i>Reading</i>
Kill Her Twice by Stacey Lee

Listening

<i>Listening</i>
My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows



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