I haven't added any books to my "All time favorite" shelf for a while, but Ove definitely belongs up there with Mr. Penumbra and the old man who jumpeI haven't added any books to my "All time favorite" shelf for a while, but Ove definitely belongs up there with Mr. Penumbra and the old man who jumped out of a window. As someone who was not an English or literature major, it took me decades of reading and thousands of books to realize that my 5-star books usually have one or few the following items: interesting characters, an author with "heart" and/or beautiful prose. So, whether if the characters are relatable or lovable, whether if the plot is logical, or the recent favorite: whether if the narrator is unreliable, are just not the most important criteria in my scale.
With phrases like this one, my favorite, by the way (laughed hysterically at midnight and woke up the house), "Like a bolt of lightning up your urethra.", Mr. Backman did not make the fine prose society, but he's definitely a writer who truly, deeply understands human feelings and he has an amazing talent of making unique characters. One thing that amazes me is how young he is. How possibly someone so young understands the sadness and anger of Ove and Britt Marie?
"Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it's often one of the great motivations for the living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before it has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.
"We always think there's enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding onto the word like "IF."
Back to Ove. One of my favorite Japanese manga series was Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: The Power of Negative Thinking Volume 1. It's a series about a pessimistic high school teacher that always fails at his suicidal attempts. The series explores and scrutinizes the various cultural and sociological aspects of the Japanese society in a satirical way. Ove reminds me of Sensei Zetsubou. After his wife Sonja died, Ove gave up living. This world is a place that he never cares for, anyway, people were not raised the same way as it used to be.
“Ove feels an instinctive skepticism towards all people taller than six feet; the blood can’t quite make it all the way up to the brain.”
“He can’t understand people who long to retire. How can anyone spend their whole life longing for the day when they become superfluous? Wandering about, a burden on society, what sort of man would ever wish for that? Staying at home, waiting to die. Or even worse: waiting for them to come and fetch you and put you in a home. Being dependent on other people to get to the toilet. Ove can’t think of anything worse. His wife often teases him, says he’s the only man she knows who’d rather be laid out in a coffin than travel in a mobility service van.”
"The two men have tattoos all over their throats, he notes. As if the SUV is not a clear enough advertisement for their stupidity."
“all over her face and sunglasses so big that one can’t tell whether they’re a pair of glasses or some kind of helmet.”
So Ove wanted to end his life and be with the only person that could understand him, but life was not done with him yet. To see all the surprises that life has in store for Ove, you'll have to read the book yourself...and love is love is love. At the time of writing this review, our world definitely needs more love....more
This book was recommended to me by my daughter, who works in the book-related industry and gets lots of ARCs (as a full-time student, not that she hasThis book was recommended to me by my daughter, who works in the book-related industry and gets lots of ARCs (as a full-time student, not that she has time to read all of them.) However, this book she finished in one sitting, and found it funny, unique and eloquent. The story's taken place at Oxford University about an English major (like she is currently) does not hurt, either.
The book, strangely, reminded me of An Unnecessary Woman. The female protagonists in both books were intelligent, book-loving, yet reclusive and awkward. Most conversations and thoughts were either book related, or literary related. However, the two were vastly different in age. Although Aaliya in An Unnecessary woman was 72, Sam was only 20 here in this book. Sam was the last living descendant of the Brontes sisters. She started attending college in Oxford a few years after her Dad died a tragic death. She was homeschooled by her Dad all her young life on literatures (especially the ones by their famous ancestors) and hardly met any other human, so Oxford was a strange and intimidating new experience for her. When her Dad was alive, they played these treasure hunting games where her Dad would leave her a clue on a bookmark (hers) leading to other places with clues. The final destination always had a matching bookmark (his) with the treasure (usually a book.) Imagine her shock when the lawyer who took care of his Dad's estate gave her an almost empty shoebox with a "her" bookmark. In her understanding, her family was broke and had no inheritance or treasures left over from the sisters.
So, the story also has a small mystery with a treasure hunt, which I found just okay...although people who definitely needed a plot in their books will find it more intriguing. What I enjoyed about the book were the witty conversations, especially the ones between Sam and her tutor/professor Orville when they analyze literary works. I laughed out loud many times through out the book. This is when they first met:
"Why did you come to Oxford?" "Everyone's got to be somewhere." "Is that supposed to be funny?".... "I came here study English Literature." "And why was that?" "I like books." "You like books." "I'm good at reading?" "I did not ask you whether if you are literate. I asked you why you are studying English Literature. What do you imagine it will provide you?" "Unemployment?".... "English is the study of what makes us human?"... "Human biology is the study of what makes us human,"...."Try again." "English is the study of civilization." "History is the study of civilization," He corrected. "English is the study of art." "ART is the study of art.".....
The rest of the book was sprinkled with conversations like the above. They were more intense and take a bit of thinking to comprehend since they were filled with specific quotes and phrases from the Brontes and other books, as well as analyses of literature and writing. Knowing a little history and work of the Bronte sisters (and other classics) might help, but not necessary, to enjoy this gem of a novel. I also enjoyed how Sam moved from being a reliable narrator, to an unreliable one, and vice versa. It's fun to keep guessing. Watching her navigating her life is also cringe-worthy but enjoyable.
This review is getting out of hand, so I'll end with my favorite short quote from the book -
"It was the sort of library you'd marry a man for."
I bought this book as a gift for an expectant mother, and decided to flip through the book while I was about to wrap it. A few hours later, I found thI bought this book as a gift for an expectant mother, and decided to flip through the book while I was about to wrap it. A few hours later, I found the book finished. It was a fun read, although my kids are much older than the kids used as examples in this book. Lots of tips offered in this book are common sense about how YOU should be the one making all the decisions, not your kids. The examples are funny, and I've seen most of those kinds of parents and kids in my neighborhood so I laughed out loud a few times. It's perfect for this society of helicoptering and worths a quick read for all parents....more
Bought this little gem of a book at Strand's New York just by flipping through the colorful drawings and the theme, and became absorbed, then later fiBought this little gem of a book at Strand's New York just by flipping through the colorful drawings and the theme, and became absorbed, then later finished it during lunch munching on a slice of Joe's Margherita pizza.
At the time, I did not realize that she also wrote/drew Relish, which everyone in my family had enjoyed. She's known for her graphic memoirs! In this installment, the young author went on a cruise with her Grandparents. Both of them were over 90 at that time and her Grandma also suffers from dementia.
I rarely give a book 5-stars unless I could feel the heart of the author. Lucy Knisley is definitely wise beyond her years, observant, funny, loving yet is able to depict all her feelings for the world and the people in it using beautiful heart-warming drawings and her words. Her interactions with her Grandparents were delightful yet sometimes sad to read, as we are all constantly being reminded of the fragility of human life, and unforgiving baggage of old age. I'll be ordering her two other books....more
21 years after publication, this book still read as fresh as a just washed and dried load of laundry. Meryl Streep's narration made this read a solid21 years after publication, this book still read as fresh as a just washed and dried load of laundry. Meryl Streep's narration made this read a solid 5-star. Amazing read and missing Nora Ephron very much. I think Christmas break will be a good time to read her . I received this book from my daughter last Christmas....more