212 reviews

A Man Called Ove: A Novel
by Fredrik Backman

Published: 2015-05-05
Paperback : 337 pages
242 members reading this now
616 clubs reading this now
129 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 203 of 212 members
Read the New York Times bestseller that has taken the world by storm!

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him ...
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Read the New York Times bestseller that has taken the world by storm!

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. “If there was an award for ‘Most Charming Book of the Year,’ this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down” (Booklist, starred review).

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Discussion Questions

1. How does the opening scene, in which Ove attempts to purchase a computer, succinctly express the main points of Ove’s ongoing battle with the stupidities of the modern world?

2. Ove loves things that have a purpose, that are useful. How does this worldview fail him when he believes himself to be useless? How is he convinced that he can still be useful?

3. As readers, we get to know Ove slowly, with his past only being revealed piece by piece. What surprised you about Ove’s past? Why do you think the author revealed Ove’s past the way that he did?

4. We all know our own grumpy old men. How do Ove’s core values lead him to appear as such a cranky old coot, when he is in fact nothing of the sort? Which of these values do you agree or disagree with?

5. Although Ove has some major “disagreements” with the way the world turned out, there are some undeniable advantages to the modernization he finds so hollow. How do these advantages improve Ove’s life, even if he can’t admit it?

6. Parveneh’s perspective on life, as radically different from Ove’s as it is, eventually succeeds in breaking Ove out of his shell, even if she can’t change his feelings about Saabs. How does her brash, extroverted attitude manage to somehow be both rude and helpful?

7. Ove strives to be “as little unlike his father as possible.” Although this emulation provides much of the strength that helps Ove persevere through a difficult life, it also has some disadvantages. What are some of the ways that Ove grows into a new way of thinking over the course of the book?

8. Ove is a believer in the value of routine—how can following a routine be both comforting and stultifying? How can we balance routine and spontaneity? Should we? Or is there sense in eating sausage and potatoes your whole life?

9. The truism “it takes a village to raise a child” has some resonance with A Man Called Ove. How does the eclectic cast of posers, suits, deadbeats, and teens each help Ove in their own way?

10. Although we all identify with Ove to some extent, especially by the end of the story, we certainly also have our differences with him. Which of the supporting cast (Parveneh, Jimmy, the Lanky One, Anita) did you find yourself identifying with most?

11. What did you make of Ove’s ongoing battle with the bureaucracies that persist in getting in his way? Is Ove’s true fight with the various ruling bodies, or are they stand-ins, scapegoats, for something else?

12. On page 113, after a younger Ove punches Tom, the author reflects: “A time like that comes for all men, when they choose what sort of men they want to be.” Do you agree with this sentiment, especially in this context? How does the book deal with varying ideas of masculinity?

13. On page 246, the author muses that when people don’t share sorrow, it can drive them apart. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

14. What do you think of Ove’s relationship with the mangy cat he adopts? What does the cat allow him to express that he couldn’t otherwise say?

15. On Ove and Sonja’s trip to Spain, Ove spends his time helping the locals and fixing things. How does Ove the “hero” compare and contrast to his behavior in the rest of the book? Is that Ove’s true personality?

16. Ove and Sonja’s love story is one of the most affecting, tender parts of the book. What is the key to their romance? Why do they fit so well together?

17. Saab? Volvo? BMW? Scania? - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/A-Man-Called-Ove/Fredrik-Backman/9781476738024/reading_group_guide#sthash.Enz84F3G.dpuf

Suggested by Members

I am wondering how accurate the story is in regards to the
by KisaVal (see profile) 02/06/17

What things do you believe were most instrumental in keeping Ove from going through with his numerous plans to end his life?
Do you believe that the author has any religious beliefs that he did not overtly share but that he conveyed through his plot and character descriptions?
How did you feel about the author's description of the government workers (the "people in white"), and how would you deal with the powerless feelings that working with these folks can cause?
by momof4intexas (see profile) 01/19/17

Ove's relationship with his wife was a topic the group discussed at length.
by ncraigs@bellsouth.net (see profile) 01/13/17

Obsessive-Compulsive behavior
by madriver (see profile) 12/07/16

I wonder if anyone guessed that Ove's wife was deceased before it was stated.
by rokat@bellsouth.net (see profile) 11/02/16

What was a favorite quote from the book?
by mrbranstner@gmail.com (see profile) 11/02/16

How did the author utilize back stories to help understand the main character?
Who or what is your favorite character in the book and why?
What was the turning point for Ove to reenter the present?
by OaksClub (see profile) 07/23/16

We went around the group and asked everyone what they liked about the book. Sometimes questions are not needed
by ruckus (see profile) 05/26/16

by Livres4moi (see profile) 05/20/16

Compare and contrast Parvaneh and Sonja.
by Christi1961 (see profile) 05/14/16

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

at 2:00 pm my group only prefers good popcorn and a drink of choice
by carmcrane (see profile) 02/07/17

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by loujanfrase@charter.net (see profile) 02/17/17

  "A Man Called Ove"by murbaniak (see profile) 02/17/17

A wonderful book that was very well written and very insightful for such a young author. It was interesting the way he gradually revealed additional information about the main character. It was funny,... (read more)

  "A Man Called Ove"by Lauren617 (see profile) 02/17/17

Great book

by suepcard@charter.net (see profile) 02/16/17

by mannaria (see profile) 02/15/17

by karavan@indytel.com (see profile) 02/14/17

by ladydiofnewcastle (see profile) 02/12/17

by LoriLichstrahl (see profile) 02/11/17

  "Ove"by carmcrane (see profile) 02/07/17

He was such a curmudgeon that I lost interest and found him too negative to appreciate. He could be helpful but it was always an effort and the only person he loved in life was a dead wife. A most unattractive... (read more)

by tpurcell (see profile) 02/07/17

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