In my previous post, I wrote that I was back to my Kindle. Recently, I have also been taking days off from social media which gave me a lot more time to read. With the combination of these two factors, I find myself reading faster and a lot more (which is great!). All that is to say that after “Writers and Lovers” by Lily King, my next book was “Anxious People” by Fredri“A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backmank Backman.
Earlier this year, I already read another book by Backman, “A Man Called Ove”. I liked that book so much that I even watched a movie adaptation in Swedish (with subtitles of course). There is something very warm and impeccably optimistic about Blackman’s writing which just makes you feel good with every single book you read from him. So when thinking about what to read next, “Anxious People” was my choice.
No surprise that I, of course, loved this book. “Anxious People” is a story of the most unsuccessful bank robber who tries to rob a cashless bank in a small Swedish town and by accident takes hostages the people present at appartment viewing. The bank robber releases the hostages with no demands and somehow disappears from the apartment building and is nowhere to be found . The police then starts the investigation of where the apartment robber is gone suspecting that he was helped by the hostages. During the investigation and while the police interviews the witnesses, we learn in detail about their fates, traumas and relationships and how these intertwined with each other.
For instance, there is a rich finansist Zara who once did not give a loan to a man prompting him to jump from the bridge. He sent her a letter before doing it that she does not dare to open and that she carries with her for years. There is a policeman Jack, a young brilliant policeman who refuses a better job in Stockholm because he wants to stay in the same city as his dad. There is a couple, Anna-Lena and her husband who seem to have lost all their love and live together out of habit. As Backman digs deep into these people, their feelings and emotions, we see that life is complex and complicated and might not be what we think it to be at a first glance but always is full of kindness. Backman characters are unapologetically human, the book is about being a human – sometimes sad, sometimes happy, sometimes anxious, sometimes living through trauma and insecurity.
Some of my favourite quotes this time:
“Because there’s such an unbelievable amount that we are all supposed to be able to cope with these days. You are supposed to have a job, and somewhere to live, and a family, and you are supposed to pay taxes and have clean underwear and remember the password to your damn Wi-Fi. Some of us never manage to get the chaos under control , so our lives simply carry on, the world spinning through space at two million miles an hour while we bounce about on its surface like so many lost socks.”
“Because that was a parent’s job: to provide shoulders. Shoulders for your children to sit on when they’re little so they can see the world, then stand on when they get older so they can reach the clouds, and sometimes lean against whenever they stumble and feel unsure. They trust us, which is a crushing responsibility, because they haven’t yet realized that we don’t know what we’re doing.”
“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 grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, that’s probably because it is full of shit.”
“They say that a person’s personality is the sum of their experiences. But that isn’t true, at least not entirely, because if our past was all that defined us, we’d never be able to put up with ourselves. We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too, all of our tomorrows.”
“Perhaps we hurried past each other in a crowd today, and neither of us noticed, and the fibers if your coat brushed against mine for a single moment and then we were gone. I don’t know who you are. But when you get home this evening, when this day is over and the night takes us, allow yourself a deep breath. Because we made it through this day as well. There will be another one along tomorrow.”
The book is the combination of absurdness and yet something very real, humour and tragedy that shocks you and makes you think about what is valuable for you. Backman’s books always make me want to be a better human. This one was not an exception.