After reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, you’ve fallen in love with the (secretly wonderful) Swedish curmudgeon known as Ove (in case your Swedish is as good as mine, it’s pronounced “Oo-veh”). You’ve lost everything. We’re on the same page. In the wake of such an unexpected, surprising, and charming read, what do you choose to read? Thirteen ideas are presented here. It might be a good idea to keep tissues on hand (as with OVE).
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Major Ernest Pettigrew and Mrs. Jasmina Ali, a second-generation Pakistani shopkeeper, live in a small town in the English countryside. While MAJOR PETTIGREW appears to be a lighthearted story about a late-life romance, it deals with important themes like racism, classism, and the difficulties of dealing with one’s own aging. Does anything come to mind?
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE is a novel that tells the story of Bernadette Fox’s mysterious disappearance and her teen daughter Bee’s attempt to find out where she went in a refreshing and droll manner. You’ll want Bernadette to be your best friend and stay as far away from you as possible by the end of this novel.
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks
Max’s best friend since he was three years old is Budo. Budo is tasked with guarding eight-year-old Max, who has autism, from the perils of the dangerous world he is forced to live in on a daily basis. When Max goes missing, can Budo protect him while also sustaining his own existence? The perfect book for fans of the film “Inside Out” who want to learn more about friendship.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
With a father who was once famous for his writing but is now unable to write again, a sister who is obsessed with Jane Austen novels, and a stepmother who is an ethereal earth mother from the 1940s, seventeen-year-old Cassandra lives in an old castle they rented back in the good old days. They used to be, but they’re no longer. Even though it was written almost 70 years ago by the author of THE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS, this novel is still a paragon of the young woman’s bildungsroman—witty and romantic, it will steal your heart…
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
In a similar vein to A Man Called Ove, this Swedish film focuses on the fantastical adventures of a social outcast. While escaping from a retirement home on the eve of his hundredth birthday, our centenarian hero meets and influences many of the world’s most famous luminaries in true Forrest Gump fashion.
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper
At almost-eighty, Etta sets out on foot to see the ocean for the first time; the journey takes her more than two thousand kilometers across Canada. Magical realism permeates the story, and the characters in it stick with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
He is a brilliant but socially challenged geneticist who is looking for a wife through a sixteen-page questionnaire. When Rosie Jarman asks Don to help her find her biological father, he sees her as more of a friend than a wife candidate, according to Don’s survey. Even the coldest cockles of your heart will be warmed by the unconventional way they meet.
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
He is the proprietor of Island Books and, according to some, a “difficult” man. Let’s be kind to him; he recently lost his wife and is now trying to run an independent bookstore. Things begin to change for him when he meets his new sales rep and discovers a baby in his store. If you’ve ever wished you could live in a bookstore, this is the book for you.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Those seeking a technological undertone in their fiction will enjoy this one. As a recent hire at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Clay realizes that something is amiss in this store that is anything but ordinary. All in the name of books and love.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Walking six hundred miles from his home to a dying friend’s house is Harold Fry’s only option when he gets a letter from her. We learn about Harold’s past and the regrets and joys he’s accrued along the way during the three months of his journey.
Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
When faced with a child whose personal style is reminiscent of 1930s Hollywood, what do you do? His mother, a J.D. Salinger-type author who was conned by a Ponzi scheme, has to hire someone to look after her son while she completes the long-awaited sequel to her first novel. In a nutshell, BE FRANK WITH ME is a heartwarming tale of a family’s origins and growth through the lens of its own peculiarities.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
When you’ve finished reading a Fredrik Backman novel, the best cure is to dive right into another. To tell you the truth, MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE IS SORRY is a story about life and death and the right to be unique. It’s sweet and funny and heartbreaking and hilarious, just like A MAN CALLED OVE.
Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
Love and second chances can be found in the strangest of places in BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE, the author’s latest novel. My wife and I are preparing to relocate to Sweden.
Florence Gordon By Brian Morton
Activist Florence Gordon, a retired college professor, is a well-known figure in New York City’s literary and intellectual circles. Then again, she just wants to be left alone at this point in her life. The outspoken, fierce New York feminist is finally writing her autobiography at the age of 75.
However, it appears that the world is working hard to keep her from accomplishing her goal. Florence’s son Daniel, his wife, and their college-age daughter are spending the summer with her, much to her chagrin. She doesn’t want to be dragged into their family’s petty squabbles. This character-driven novel is sure to leave you feeling enlightened and refreshed.