Anxious People

Anxious People

Book - 2020
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May 05, 2021

Funny and sad. A great translation. I'm hooked.

May 05, 2021

Recommended by Ellen May ‘21

May 02, 2021

Oh boy some of you fans may not like this review but I hope to save at least one person a couple of hours. Very annoying writing style - felt stupid reading it. Just could not feel connected to this scattered and ridiculous storyline. I saw all of the glowing reviews and was excited to experience a new and highly recommended author. Not so - extremely disappointed. I never give up on a book but this one was just so silly and child like that after 100 pages in I was seriously considering returning it without finishing. Instead I “skimmed” ahead and picked up bits and pieces along the way (again not something I have ever done). It was enough to see that the same nonsense continued throughout. The ending, while it ties the crazy story together, made me feel even more desperate to dump this book. Depressing. I went back through the older reviews of others and see now, too late, that this would not be recommended as an introduction to the works of this author. I think if I need to “build up” a tolerance to the writer’s style it is a pass for me. Once burned, twice shy. On a positive note, gotta love our freedom of choice and library access to such wide and varying literature options.

Apr 26, 2021


Apr 18, 2021

I’m an unabashed fan of author Fredrik Backman and have read nearly all his books. But I must admit I wasn’t immediately captivated by ANXIOUS PEOPLE. It wasn’t until I was a third of the way into it that its charm took hold of me, and I was hooked. What begins as a seeming hodgepodge of complicated characters, isolated events, and a shifting timeline, all comes together in a very satisfying way at the end. The story is a thought-provoking mix of the serious and the absurd, the tragic and the comical, told as only Fredrik Backman can. Ultimately, ANXIOUS PEOPLE is about human connection and the impacts people can have on each other. I highly recommend it.
PLEASE NOTE: If you aren’t familiar with Backman and his writing style, I join others in suggesting you NOT start with this book, but first try one of his other works, like A MAN CALLED OVE.

Apr 11, 2021

Best book ever! Absolutely loved this book from the beginning till the end. In Backman’s Anxious People, tells the story how people in society are more connected than they think. This book was extremely hilarious. After 2020, this was the kind of read we all need.

Apr 11, 2021

If you have never read Backman, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this offering. Start with .....Ove or My Grandmother......This is a complex tale of Ying and Yang of the human condition complete with a cast of quirky characters that one would expect from his style of writing. He’s been called the John Irving of Sweden. Excellent comparison although Backman can certainly stand on his own laurels.

Mar 28, 2021

There's a lot going on in this book. Overall, it's an exciting, surprising read with some good nuggets of wisdom.

Mar 26, 2021

This is a great read but also one of the hardest of all his books. His stories never follow a straight plot line and with all the characters, the time line changes and the character back stories, while you're entertained, you might also be getting a headache. Start with one of his early books before you dive into this one.

Mar 25, 2021

I loved reading “anxious people!” The author skillfully created 10 believable characters, building layers of complexity to each character, as the book progressed. I finish this book several days ago and still find my mind engaged with it; this is completely unlike me. I read a book to escape into a story and once finished, normally, I don’t give it another thought. Not so with this book. It kept me turning the pages. This is more than a who-did-it kind of book. If you enjoy this book as much as I did, you will be in for a delightful treat.

Mar 22, 2021

This book is an absolute treasure. I don’t think I can quite describe why as eloquently as some previous comments. But when I finished the book, I was sad it was over and yet so thankful I had read it! I can see how Backman’s writing may not be everyone’s cup of tea: for a plot about a bank robbery/hostage situation, it was not edge-of-your-seat entertainment. It was so much more though. I loved getting to know each character. Backman is gifted in creating imperfect, broken characters that you can’t help but root for. The storyline and every person’s part is woven together so beautifully. I laughed, I cried, and I would read it all over again.

Hillsboro_JeanineM Mar 20, 2021

I loved how Backman told the story and how it unfolded with characters lives intertwining in the past and coming together in the present. It is ultimately a heart-warming tale with some twists.

Mar 17, 2021

I love how he explains how children and young people view the world.

Mar 12, 2021

Backman has his own unique style. He reveals, opines, and surprises at every turn. Comedy? No, too much tragedy going on here to be fully comic. Ok, so it's a tragedy? No, there's no tragedy that makes you laugh out loud to this extent.
Ok, so Backman is a keen observer to the human experience. He tends to interject himself and his beliefs into the story, and this story is a revelation of how we grieve, how we deal with cruelty and betrayal, and how we never stop loving.
You might know the plot, but you don't really know the story until you read Anxious People. Do yourself a favor: choose a gloomy day, make a cup of tea, settle in and read another exploration of the human condition, courtesy of Fredrick Backman.

JCLJenV Mar 12, 2021

When I first started this book I thought it should have been named, ‘Annoying People’. But about halfway through - the story and the characters found more depth and Fredrick Backman worked his magic and I fell in love with the story.

Mar 01, 2021

4 -4 1/2 stars. I think I expected a different kind of book as I found it a bit hard to get into the book at the beginning. But then I got it and found the book to be an interesting read. A bank robber who tried to rob a cashless bank is on the run from police and ducks into an apartment building and into an open door that leads to an open house with a number of people in there. Soon there is a hostage incident. But the bank robber is not the hostage taker per se and the people in the room are not that frightened. Two police officers, a father and son, are interested and interesting parties. The book is full of interesting people trying their best to overcome the things that life throws at them. At times funny and at times so poignant and spot on that tears came to my eyes, this book was quite a surprise.

Feb 17, 2021

The author takes a different route to finding our characters spirit and personality. He looks at the 8 characters from so many angles that their true nature is not revealed until the end. It is a tale the offers delight and sadness, pokes fun at society and each character's preconceived notions. The author pokes fun at the reader and the author, too, teasing us with one misconception of reality after another.

Being a Backman tale, the characters all find a degree of satisfaction with their final lot. These 8(?) charactors may not be unforgettable, but he never forgets his characters. It's a cautionary fairy tale, told with care. I admire everything I've read by him; this may be his best work to date.

Feb 13, 2021

Well-written populist brainfiller.

Jan 23, 2021

Only the 2nd Backman book I've read (after A Man Called Ove), and I loved this one!

A bit confusing in the timeline, with some necessary repetition, but stick with this book. Interesting characters, location, excellent backstories, and it all gets wrapped up satisfyingly well. Reminiscent of the 2004 movie "Crash" (, in that lots of seemingly unrelated characters cross paths with life changing outcomes. I highly recommend this book!

Jan 20, 2021

I loved this book so much that I read it twice! As I read it the first time, I was a bit impatient with some of the characters, who appeared to be unusually obtuse and difficult. But I kept reading anyway, and I am so glad I did: the ending totally blew me away! Not only did the author tie everything together in the most satisfying way, but he also showed that the characters had depths that I had missed when I first judged them. One moral of this story is: Your first impression of another person may be totally wrong. Do not give up on them! Keep listening!

If you have heard about this book, you may have heard that it is about a group of people at an apartment viewing (what we would call an open house) who are taken hostage by a failed bank robber. Technically, that is true, but this book is SO much more than that!

Even the author has trouble telling us what the book is about. Mr. Backman’s writing style is not everyone’s cup of tea, and of course, his work is translated from Swedish, but he is constantly foreshadowing and summarizing. Please bear with him, because he has a lot to say in this book.

Here are the opening two paragraphs of the book, to give you an idea:

“A bank robbery. A hostage drama. A stairwell full of police officers on their way to storm an apartment. It was easy to get to this point, much easier than you might think. All it took was one single really bad idea.

“This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots. So it needs saying from the outset that it’s always very easy to declare that other people are idiots, but only if you forget how idiotically difficult being human is. Especially if you have other people you’re trying to be a reasonably good human being for.”

Mr. Backman then presents a list of all of the things we are all supposed to be able to cope with these days, and it is humorous but overwhelming. He points out that we are all doing everything we can just to get through another day, and we think everyone but us has it all figured out. The reality is that everyone is stressed and feels like an imposter at least some of the time (and often most of the time).

Warning to all of you in the financial industry: Mr. Backman is not a fan of banks, and he clearly thinks it is horrific that when the economic recession of 2008-9 happened, the people who suffered and lost everything were regular people who trusted banks and financial people, while the people running the banks and other financial institutions got off scot-free.

But I think the most important lesson of this book is connection. When I started reading this book, I thought these characters were all disparate people with nothing in common, but that turned out to be wrong. There were all sorts of connections. And new connections were formed during the course of this book.

That is why I had to read this book a second time. When I got to the end and saw where the author was going, I had to go back and see how he set everything up. And it is brilliant!! I enjoyed reading this book the first time, but I truly savored every word the second time. I saw all the clever things I had missed on my first reading. And I wept at the end, even though it is not sad—I promise you that it is not sad. It is wonderful!

In Anxious People, we not only get to know the people taken hostage in the apartment, but we also get to know the policemen (father and son) who are trying to resolve the hostage crisis. Everyone is more complicated than they first appear. Is that not true of every person on the planet?

Some readers might pooh-pooh this book as a fairy tale. Perhaps they are right. I prefer to think of this book as showing that while we may all be idiots, we can rise to the occasion when the chips are down. We are never better than when we reach out and help others who are hurting or in trouble.

And THAT is a message we need to hear today and every day!

Jan 19, 2021

What a tedious read. I was so looking forward to reading this book - I love Backman’s style - and was disappointed. Here’s a scheme how the plot develops - one step forward, two steps back. Some attempts to be funny. A few brilliant thoughts, yes. Half a book that what I managed to conquer.

ArapahoePaige Jan 15, 2021

It’s about a bank robber. A bridge. A rabbit? But mostly it’s a bare-knuckled examination of people, relationships and expectations wrapped in witty, wry observations that make you laugh out loud. Each character has a story, the lead role, and their own truth. But who’s the bank robber?

Jan 15, 2021

I enjoy Backman's writing which sometimes makes me laugh out loud and few pages later I will be reading with tears in my eyes.

JCLBetM Jan 11, 2021

I already knew from reading "A Man Called Ove" that Backman has a gift of creating nuanced and realistic characters whose flaws you appreciate as much as their virtues. But he outdid himself with this one. I'd be laughing one moment, and tearing up the next over the various issues this mad cast of characters were dealing with. And somehow the puzzle of time he creates by shifting back and forth within the hostage episode itself, as well as events years earlier, enriches the story and helps you suspend judgment as you watch the various pieces laid into place. I didn't love it immediately, but I certainly did by the end.

Jan 04, 2021

Just outstanding. Funny and sad and poignant and real. I loved this book and these flawed characters.

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