*If you are new here, WELCOME! For A Man Called Ove, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!
Have you read A Man Called Ove? It’s a book that book clubs love. Fredrik Backman is a master of the human experience and A Man Called Ove captures his talent, sending the reader through the array of human emotions (which is why book clubs love the book).
This book was released in 2012, so there’s no doubt you’ve probably heard of it if you haven’t already read it. I actually watched the movie before I read the book. Good news if you want an activity for the group–the movie follows the book very closely!
If you have read A Man Called Ove and loved it, perhaps now is the time for the entire group to read it. Or, if you have already done so, check out another book by Fredrik Backman like Beartown or My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. He’s also got a brand new release coming this fall called Anxious People.
After watching the movie a few years ago, I decided to pick up the book. It’s an amazing story of wrong perceptions, loneliness, and kindness. If you are looking for books like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, you’ll love A Man Called Ove. If you haven’t checked it out, see my post on Eleanor Oliphant is Completey Fine, which is one of my favorites featured on the blog!
Beyond a good story that kept me intrigued, Backman has a gift for language. I often paused to consider phrases he used to describe sorrow or love which resonated deeply with me. That said, he isn’t verbose and the book was a quick, enjoyable read.
I also enjoyed reading about the Swedish community where Ove lives and his lifestyle there. It was refreshing and interesting to read about modern day Sweden. Even through the eyes of a grumpy old man named Ove!
If your group is reading the book or planning a watch party, I’ve provided book club questions and a delicious recipe for A Man Called Ove below for your meeting! So if you are looking for food ideas and more, keep reading!
Here’s a brief summary of A Man Called Ove:
No one in Ove’s community, or the world for that matter, has any principles or work ethic anymore. He’s tired and cranky and ready to die. When a lanky goof and his Persian wife move into the house next door, a comical clash of character begins. Beneath Ove’s bitterness, though, is a story of sadness and loss that begins to surface. As Ove and his neighbors grow closer despite their differences, he is drawn out from the lonely shield he’s placed between himself and the world, and slowly begins to cherish life again.
For A Man Called Ove’s Recipe:
Since the book centers around an older bachelor, you can imagine there isn’t a lot of food mentioned throughout the novel. However, there is some! Here are a few food ideas taken from the pages of A Man Called Ove:
- Rice with Saffron and Chicken (see my note below)– Chapter 3, Ove meets Parvaneh’s children
- Sausage and Potatoes (a Swedish meal) — Chapter 5, Ove eats with his father
- Persian cookies–Chapter 7, Parvaneh thanks Ove for his help
- McDonald’s french fries and chicken–Chapter 24, Ove takes a carful of neighbors to pick up Patrick
- Meat and potatoes (a Swedish meal)–Chapter 30, Ove’s favorite meal and dinner routine with Sonja
- Ice Cream–Chapter 30, Ove’s Saturday routine with Sonja
I decided to make Persian Cookies because the novel wouldn’t be the same without Parvaneh. Her invasive friendliness draws Ove back to life.
I considered making Persian Rice with Saffron and Chicken. However, saffron is an ingredient some people may have difficulty finding and I wanted to provide a recipe anyone could make. If you would like to try to make Persian Rice, it is a unique dish that I’m sure your book club would love. Try this recipe from the Unicorns in the Kitchen blog.
These Persian Cookies with raisins are delightful and different. According to my research, they are the equivalent of chocolate chip cookies to children in Persia.
They aren’t too sweet and have a rich butter taste to them. The texture reminded me of a Madeleine with crispy edges. The cookies would be wonderful with a cup of hot tea. If you are looking for food ideas for A Man Called Ove, look no further!
A Man Called Ove Persian Raisin Cookies
- ¾ cup butter softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 ½ cup flour
- 1 ¼ cup raisins
- 3 eggs
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Cream the softened butter and sugar together with a mixer for about 1 minute.
- Add in one egg at a time, mixing after adding each egg until all three are incorporated.
- Add in the teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Slowly mix in the flour until just mix.
- Using a spatula, fold in the raisins.
- Scoop tablespoon-sized amounts and place 1-2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges slightly brown but the top does not.
A Man Called Ove Book Club Questions:
*WARNING: May contain spoilers!
- Ove is a man of simplicity. He sees the world in very black and white terms. But, as we learn his story, we learn there is more than meets the eye. Backman writes, “if you don’t know the story, you don’t know the man.” What part of Ove’s story surprised you the most? Do you agree with Backman’s statement in general or do you think actions, no matter what they stem from, speak the loudest?
- It is not until Chapter 4 that we learn that Ove’s wife has passed away six months prior to the book’s opening. Before this Ove just seems like a curmudgeon. Did this revelation change how you saw Ove or at what point did you begin to see him in a different light?
- After Ove hits Tom for stealing his watch, he decides that “a time comes in every man’s life when he decides what sort of man he’s going to be: the kind who lets other people walk all over him, or not.” Were you glad Ove finally stood up for himself? In contrast, who thinks this decision led to his personal downfall?
- Discuss Ove’s relationship with Parvaneh. What were your favorite dynamics of it? Why do you think she was just what he needed and vice versa?
- Then, discuss Ove’s relationship with each of the residents we come to know—Rune, Anita, Jimmy, Adrian, Anders (and Lena), and the cat. How does Ove help each character and how does each character help Ove along his journey.
- Ove spends most of his life fighting the “men in white shirts,” yet he becomes like a white shirt in his little community. Why do you think he does this?
- In the last chapter Backman writes, “People live their whole lives as if (death) does not exist, and yet it’s often one of the great motivations for living…the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.” Discuss how Ove moved from the fear in the latter part of this quote to the motivation for living as the book progressed.
- Sonja equates loving someone to moving into a house, where you first love all the new things and then come to love all the imperfections. Why do you think that Sonja fell in love with Ove?
- Were you surprised by the book’s ending? Why or why not? What did you think of the fact that Ove’s heart was too big?
- Did you enjoy the book’s format—moving from present to past and back chapter by chapter? How did A Man Called Ove compare to any other Fredrick Backman books you’ve read and loved.
Have you read A Man Called Ove? What did you think? Did it satisfy you or were you left wishing for more? What are some similar books you’ve read?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
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Other Books by Fredrik Backman that you might enjoy!