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Anxious People

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A poignant, charming novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined

Looking at real estate isn't usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can't fix up their own marriage. There's a wealthy banker who has been too busy making money to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can't seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment's only bathroom, and you've got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in a motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Humorous, compassionate, and wise, Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope—the things that save us, even in the most anxious of times.

Includes short story - The Last Round of Golf

336 pages, Hardcover

First published April 25, 2019

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About the author

Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove (soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, as well as two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. Things My Son Needs to Know About the World, his first work of non-fiction, will be released in the US in May 2019. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Connect with him on Twitter @BackmanLand or on Instagram @backmansk.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 63,877 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,065 reviews38.1k followers
December 13, 2022
Don’t miss tv series adaptation of Anxious People on Netflix! My thoughts: the book is still so much better!

This is my goodreads 2020 choice as best fiction novel! It came at the second place and I adored “ Midnight Library” too. But this one still has special place in my heart! It’s still my favorite fiction reads of the year!

Good news: This amazing is about to be adapted in Swedish series. And fingers crossed, I hope Netflix buys this limited series so we may enjoy them!

This is one of my favorite, highly recommended fiction novels of 2020!

I think my vocabulary is so limited to express how this book made me feel. Yes, it shook me so hard but it also entertained the hell of me. It was tragic, tear jerker, but it was also funny, enjoyable, witty! It was action packed, riveting, heart throbbing but it was also thought-provoking, complex, dazzling, deceptive, educational and heartfelt.


I know you got confused. How a book makes laugh so hard and then makes you cry like a baby and also hooks you up from its riveting, exciting chapters and at some parts you want to stop, taking a deep breath to absorb what you read, aching for characters, feeling their pain but you’re also laughing their ridiculousness! This book captivates your heart, brain and your soul at the same time and plays with your emotional balance, juggling between different genres and you just want to clap the author and take a bow for his remarkable, original, unique work.

His sarcastic, witty and dark sense of humor reminded me of Guy Ritchie’s crime/dark comedy scripts (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch) and his quirky, sarcastic, awkward characters slowly warms your heart and entertains the hell of you! As soon as I finish it, I turned back and reread the police interrogation parts of the book and I laughed over and over!!!

So what this book is about? Bunch of idiot people? YES
An unsuccessful bank robbery attempt and hostage situation? YES. What a minute! If the robbery is unsuccessful, how the thief managed to take hostages? And how many hostages he has? 8 hostages!

Is this book about suicide attempts on the bridge? YES!

Is this about stock markets, mortgages, banking system and destroying effects of capitalism makes rich people richer and makes you poor… yes, you may fill the blanks…! YES!

I guess you must be confused again but don’t! Even though the book looks like a puzzle, all the pieces find their right place and so many twists that you may not foresee confuse you more but at the end you realize you read something so spectacular make you question your morals, your judgments, beliefs, the way you look at the life and test your decency.

Jack and Jim, police officers, son and father, carrying Whiskey brand names, are anxious people who are not happy about their lives, polar opposites, barely stand with each other but unfortunately they are still colleagues and they’re interrogating hostages about the whereabouts of the bank robber. Oh sorry, the guy couldn’t rob the bank because the bank didn’t have enough money and young intern just called the cops so the unsuccessful bank robber runs into an apartment viewing. 8 people seeing the house become the worst bank robber’s reluctant hostages. But I have to admit they are the WORST BATSHIT CRAZY HOSTAGES you may imagine!

Jack and Jim surrounded the building with their colleagues, called the big guns from Stockholm to save the hostages from another syndrome but they hear gun shot and when they go to check the building, they see the blood stains in the living room but amateur bank robber (you’re gonna understand my reasoning why I keep tell the robber this silly name after reading this book!) is nowhere to be seen. So Jack thinks one of the hostages helped the first time robber. Or they may hide something from them.

So we’re moving back and forth between interrogations, the hostages’ back stories, secrets, the reasons behind they want to see the house. And naturally my favorite hostages are sarcastic, direct, cruel, smart, entertaining, cool Zara and golden-hearted Estelle (I wish she would be my grandma and her story broke my heart into pieces)
The ending of the story (or let’s say new beginnings of the characters’ stories) was surprising but also heart melting, memorable, tear jerking. And I forget to add what this book is about… IT IS ABOUT REAL LOVE…

Thanks to Atria Books/Simon Schuster for sending this special ARC to me in exchange my honest review. I love this author’s works so much and this is one of the best books I’ve read on 2020.

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Profile Image for Val ⚓️ Shameless Handmaiden ⚓️.
1,794 reviews27.8k followers
July 22, 2021
2 - 2.5 Stars

I am definitely in the minority on this and I am very aware of that...all I can say is, Backman can really write (although I already knew that). And he can really write people. Which I also knew...

The problem was I just didn't actually like any of the people here. Or the plot.

Now, I'm not saying I always have to like all the people in a story to like the story itself. But when I not only dislike the people, but think they are completely obnoxious? And I think the plot is ridiculous and makes bumbling idiots of everyone involved?

description

And, yes, I am aware the characters were supposed to be bumbling idiots. The narrator calls them idiots multiple times throughout the book. It was a theme. After all, we are all idiots at what time or another, right? *wink wink* See what Backman I did there? *nudge nudge* (All throughout the book, mind you.)

I know all the quirkiness was supposed to give me all the feels and and all that. Instead, it just grated on me.

Now, to be clear, I didn't outright hate this or anything. As I said, the writing was superb. I thought there were a lot of cute moments and I really liked some of the narratives Backman explored about life, human nature, the human condition in a modern world, and anxiety as a whole. My love for those things just didn't offset my general sense of annoyance at the characters and the plot enough.

But, oh well. As I said, I am definitely in the minority on this one. I know most people loved this. And if you think you might too, you should absolutely give it a go.

I will definitely read more Backman in the future. This was just a miss for me, that's all.

EDITED: Because I am sick of repeating this in the comments, I'm adding this here...I'm not stupid, folks. I understood why the characters were acting like idiots. I understand they were . I didn't "miss it" and thus not like the story because of it. I understood what was happening. I "got" was Backman was doing. I don't need it explained to me. The characters - regardless of their motivations - just annoyed me and I did not like the book. It's that simple. I thought I made this clear enough in my review, but I guess not.
Profile Image for Yun.
505 reviews18k followers
March 23, 2022
Oh my, what an absolute gem this turned out to be! It's quintessential Backman: quirky, heartwarming, and uplifting.

On the surface, Anxious People is a story about a bank robbery gone wrong. The bank robber, having failed at robbing a bank, bursts upon an apartment viewing and proceeds to take a group of unfortunate strangers hostage. This group of mismatched folks, each with their secret fears and mistakes, slowly open their hearts to one another, and as a result, find their lives inexplicably changed for the better.

At its heart, this is a story that speaks to the humanity in all of us. No matter our backgrounds or experiences, we each have done the best we can with what we are given. We have messy feelings that go with our messy lives. We've made mistakes and all deserve second chances to redeem ourselves. That is what Backman has captured so deftly with his tale.

Reading this book feels like digging through a treasure trove, with wonderful surprises at every turn. There's even a little mystery in here, when the police tries to reconstruct what happened, and things don't seem as straightforward as they initially thought. The mystery is really a small part of the story, but even that is superbly done and managed to surprise and delight me.

Backman's writing style has always been quirky and his themes somewhat sentimental, but the two elements balance each other out, so that the quirkiness cuts through the cheesiness and helps to tone it down. The theme of this story, when you think about it, is really more sentimental than all the rest, so I found the writing to be even quirkier than his other books. I really enjoyed it, but I can see how this style wouldn't be for every reader or even every moment.

I appreciate that Backman tries to tackle complex and timely topics in his books, and he does so in such an uplifting way. Especially now, when we live in a world more divisive than it's ever been, this story reminds us that if we only take the time to get to know the other side, we'd realize we are more alike than we are different. In my opinion, it's an overly optimistic stance, but it's still healing to be able to escape into this imaginary, wonderful world, even if just for a few hours.
Profile Image for Muhtasin.
182 reviews643 followers
July 11, 2021
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
description
Thought-provoking, heartbreaking but amusing. It is a perfect mix of tragic and hilarious, believable and absurd. The whimsical & humorous writing style about real subjects like suicide, depression made this story remarkable.
God doesn't protect people from knives, sweetheart. That's why God gave us other people, so we can protect each other.

Sweet Story
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,032 reviews2,564 followers
December 14, 2020
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman hit me right in the part of me that I never want to discuss, the part that I don't even know how to discuss. He knows how we feel at our lowest moments, during our biggest and smallest times of disappointment, grief, and feelings of despair. Yet, rather than bringing me down, he lightens my heart because we aren't alone in these feelings. There is humor in how we feel and there is hope in low times. This book made me laugh and I loved it. 

So now, watch me call all of us idiots because Backman makes such good points about the subject. We aren't alone in our idiot-ness, though. That could be beside the point or it could be THE point . Things happen, mistakes are made, but sometimes we can do things that alter the path of those mistakes before they become so destructive that we can't pull back from the black hole we are facing. 

There is a very reluctant bank robber-to-be and when attempting to rob a bank, the bank robber makes the biggest mistake a bank robber can make. So the failed bank robber runs and accidently takes an apartment of people hostage. The now hostage taker is having a very bad day, worse than the bad day they were having before they tried to rob a bank. And the hostages! The hostages are the worst! What is wrong with these people! 

We learn more about the hostage taker and the hostages and I loved it all. The two police officers, who later try to question the former hostages, are at their wits ends. The former hostages won't answer questions, they talk in circles, they ask their own very unhelpful questions, it's obvious that they are idiots and the police officers feel like they are idiots, too. How can so much go wrong and where is the bank robber/hostage taker? How did they escape from a closed area, with only one guarded exit. Just what is going on?

Publication: September 8, 2020

Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for this ARC.
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
375 reviews2,783 followers
September 27, 2022
This is the most hilarious book I've read!

A bank robber on the loose runs into the apartment across the street. In it, he notices an apartment door open. There is a showing for the apartment, and there are prospective buyers inside. He enters the apartment to clear his thoughts but finds that these are the worst hostages ever. Meanwhile, the police in this small town are hot on the trail of the bank robber. Will they be able to discover who is the bank robber and where to find him?

Anxious People is very true, hilarious, and also moving at times. In my typical reading fashion, I practiced immersion reading (listening to the audiobook while following along in the printed version). The audiobook was amazing! I really enjoyed the entire performance and all of the different character voices.

Anxious People also has one of the strongest openings that I have read.
It is rare that I enjoy a book so much from the first chapter; however, this book was laugh out loud funny, starting from the very first chapter. There were some portions in the last half of the book that I thought dragged a bit but because this book made me laugh so much that I had to overlook that.

Overall, if you are looking for a heart-warming, hilarious story, definitely give this a read!

2022 Reading Schedule
Jan Animal Farm
Feb Lord of the Flies
Mar The Da Vinci Code
Apr Of Mice and Men
May Memoirs of a Geisha
Jun Little Women
Jul The Lovely Bones
Aug Charlotte's Web
Sep Life of Pi
Oct Dracula
Nov Gone with the Wind
Dec The Secret Garden

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Profile Image for JanB .
1,113 reviews2,146 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
September 29, 2020
DNF at 15%.

The author tries too hard to be witty and quirky with a "deep message", but is neither funny or appealing. He uses an abundance of similes such as comparing children to kites (you hold on tight but the wind carries them off anyway) and fog is "like someone setting fire to ghosts" (has he actually set fire to one to know what it looks like?). My eyes were rolling. The witnesses to a bank robbery exhibit unrealistic and weird behavior (which is supposed to be quirky?). The 3rd person POV adds to the lack of appeal.

Many readers love this author and this book, so do check out other reviews. I'm obviously the wrong reader.

* I received an e-galley via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,153 reviews36.2k followers
November 8, 2020
*Updated 11/8/20* Buddy Listen with Kaceey! I'm so grateful that I got to share my love for this book with my book buddy and am so glad that Kaceey loved this book as much as I did.

*

5 Powerful Stars

“Anxious People” is a thought provoking, heart-wrenching, comical novel that leaves you in wonderment. It’s Fredrik Backman at his best. At its heart, this book deals with human connection and the impact people have on each other. It showcases Mr. Backman’s talent in an entirely new way and it is another reminder as to why he is one of my favorite authors.

Fredrik Backman is an author who has an innate ability to capture the human spirit, get under his characters’ skins and relay his characters thoughts and feelings in a way that makes us feel as if we know them, as if we are friends with them and at times, as if we are them.

“Anxious People” is different from Backman’s other novels, there are no quirky curmudgeons like Ove or Britt-Marie and there are no Benji’s. This story features a Bank Robber, a Hostage Situation, a Real Estate Agent and an entire cast of other extremely complicated characters. This is a character driven novel and it delves into the trials and tribulations of each individual whose lives are affected by the situation that they are in. I had no idea what I was in for when I dived in - what I will say is that each and every character will steal your heart. It’s that thing called human connection.

Within just a few minutes of reading this, tears pricked my eyes and I knew from that moment on that this book was special. It is wild and crazy and unlike anything you’ve ever read. At times you will be exasperated and yet you will keep reading. One minute you will be laughing and the next you will be in tears. For me, it happened and happened often.

Once again, Fredrik Backman does something special here and I’m so very grateful for it.

“Anxious People” is a must read and will most certainly be on my Goodreads Best of List for 2020. This novel reminded me that everything I do can potentially impact others and therefore, I must think before I act. It also reminded me how important human connection is and how grateful I am for the relationships I have built with all of you. Though times are difficult right now, I am thankful that we have each other. I wish you all good health, peace and safety. Namaste.

A huge thank you to Ms. Ariele Friedman at Atria Books and NetGalley for the arc. Thank you also to Fredrik Backman for continuing to write such incredible words. You inspire me.

Published on Goodreads on 5.9.2020.
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan .
944 reviews1,879 followers
October 31, 2022
What will happen when a profoundly compassionate person decides to keep a bunch of crazy people as hostages? Fredrik Backman shows it marvelously through this novel.

What makes this novel unique? Is it the elegance amid the chaos? Is it the hope of a better future amid the downright macabre of the present? Is it the humor amid the tragedy? Is it the author's prowess to make us smile and cry at the same time?

This book is an artistic creation, which subjugates our introspection and overwhelms our contemplations on possible comparisons and interpretations. If you are an art aficionado, you are invariably going to relish the experience of reading this book.

"That's the power of literature, you know, it can act like little love letters between two people who can only explain their feelings by pointing at other people."
Profile Image for emma.
1,781 reviews42.7k followers
April 15, 2022
The thing about this book is that it is cotton candy-level, cavity-threatening, headache-inducing type sweet, and simultaneously very sad and real and filled with the most upsetting things about being alive.

A real whirlwind.

If you are in the right mood for this book (which I was when I started it), then it is a whimsical, amusing, life-affirming journey to becoming an optimist.

But if you are not (which I suddenly shapeshifted into at some point), it is arduous to get through and kind of annoying.

I personally prefer the version of myself that enjoyed this book, but unfortunately that version of myself only stuck around for a day or less and left the more powerful version of me to wade through this for the following 6 days.

Still, I'd like to be an optimist. So...3.5 stars.

But rounded down. I'm not Mary goddamn Poppins.

Bottom line: Depends on whether you're nice or not!

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not sure at this point if i'm even capable of reading without lily

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Profile Image for jessica.
2,476 reviews29.6k followers
September 9, 2020
‘we are doing the best we can, we really are...’

this message is the heart of this story.

‘…we all have this in common, yet most of us remain strangers, we never know what we do to each other, how your life is affected by mine. when this day is over and the night takes us, allow yourself a deep breath. because we made it through another day.’

and this is the heart of us readers.


this is a story that will speak to everyone who picks it up - from the anxious to the confident, from the broken to the loved, from the young to the old, and everyone in between.

the fact that FB can take such heavy topics about people and life and so respectfully explore them in a light-hearted way is still truly astounding to me.

and its truly a testament to FBs writing skills that he can continue to construct stories that are relevant and not only resonate with, but emotionally touch, such a wide audience.

this story is nothing short of the perfection FB consistently creates.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,012 reviews46.1k followers
October 2, 2020
move over beartown

there's a new sheriff in town. well, i guess that kind of depends on what you're in the market for. but this book came to me at the perfect place and time in my life. and something about that kind of serendipity makes this the superior book to me.

you see, i was perusing the aisles of target, as one does. and i was looking for something that i had a. never read before and b. actually had interest in reading. and among the popular fiction, i found something to fit the bill. this pretty little yellow number. and despite some initial misgivings about the title of this book i read the inside flap and was intrigued. a book about a bank robber and hostage situation. score.

but oh boy. it was really not about that. in typical backman fashion, this book is about humanity. the ugly sides and the hopefulness. all tied up in an interesting plot that had twists akin to a thriller. all while never venturing into preachy life advice territory.

i'm realizing that this review is a bit of a mess. like me and like you. read this book, it'll likely make your 2020 better.
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :) .
958 reviews2,559 followers
November 22, 2020
****FINALIST IN THE GOODREADS CHOICE AWARDS, EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK, IT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD****

This will definitely be a top 10 book for me this year!!

I have now read all of Mr. Bachman’s books and have enjoyed them all. This book had me engaged from the very beginning.

There are a handful of characters and they are all well developed. He is a genius when it comes to portraying people, their emotions, their habits, their “quirkiness”.

This book reminded me of a Seinfeld episode. There are lots of things going on involving most of the usual cast and they don’t all get tied together until the end. I knew that there were underlying connections but I didn’t really guess all of them until they were revealed.

As you know from the quite extensive blurb this is “ a poignant comedy about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.”

I took a lot of notes about things that made me laugh but to share them would ruin the surprise for you, the new reader. I have never been so amused while learning lessons about life.

“Everyone inside the apartment had their own complexes, their own demons and anxieties: Roger was wounded, Anna-Lenna wanted to go home, Julia was tired, Ro was worried, Zara was in pain, and Estelle . . .well . . .no one really knew what Estelle was yet. Possibly not even Estelle”

Along with the narration of the events taking place there are also pages of interviews. After the event the police are trying very hard not to personally implode as they interview the hostages who really weren’t hostages!!! Why are they being so uncooperative????

This book is best gone into blind, you won’t understand how incredibly well written it is until you immerse yourself in the story.

If you have read any of Mr. Bachman’s books before, BUY THIS BOOK. If you have never read any of Mr. Bachman’s books, BUY THIS BOOK.

There are some serious issues dealt with along with the lighter tone of the novel including: divorce, lack of leadership, father-son relationships, betrayal by someone you love, psychological problems including thoughts of suicide.

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,679 followers
October 7, 2020
Backman does it again! I loved it!

I could only assume the book was about me and my people 😁. In all seriousness, though, it is appropriate title because it is a character study and a character driven mystery. As you learn about the people along the way, you might learn a little bit about yourself.

I love the way that Backman writes. He only has one book that I did not completely adore (My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry). I am excited every time I see a new book is out from him and I cannot wait to check out some of his earlier works I haven't tried yet. If you have loved his writing before, I give you my 100% guarantee that you will 100% love this one.

This was another Couch Time listen with my wife. We enjoy finding books we think we might both enjoy and we take time after the kids have gone to bed to listen to them together. It is my favorite time of the day! This was an AWESOME audiobook and I LOVED the narration. Marin Ireland is a fantastic narrator - I will be looking for more books with her narration in the future.

Final verdict: very, very great! Read it!
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,588 reviews153k followers
March 9, 2021
description

Just released my Top 10 Books from 2020 BookTube Video - now that you know this one made the list, click the link to find the rest!
The Written Review
description

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
Oh my gosh.

Like most Backman books at this point...I'm at a complete loss regarding how to tell you that this book is, quite frankly, the best thing I've read all year.

I'm just overwhelmed by the sheer goodness of this book...and if I were to try to summarize it...It would be:

Failed bank robber takes on kidnapping role (unintentionally) and also kinda fails at it....but in a good way? Like a laugh-cry-laugh way.

Oh gosh. Now I'm not making sense.

Essentially, this book was amazing. But you really just have to read it yourself.

As always Backman is able to instantly create fully-fleshed out characters from just a few sentences and he plays your emotions like a violin.

I've never listened to an audiobook and had that serious of a yo-yo happening constantly - like there would be literal tears leaking out of my face followed by laughter.

The way all of the characters came together and fed off of each other's energy was amazing. The way their pasts interwove with their presents was just as stunning.

This truly was an amazing book and I cannot recommend it enough.
“That's the power of literature, you know, it can act like little love letters between two people who can only explain their feelings by pointing at other people's.”
YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Maggie Stiefvater.
Author 50 books167k followers
July 28, 2021
This Swedish novel is about a hapless apartment viewing, a hapless bank robbery, and a hapless hostage situation. It’s a peculiar, stylized book with a brand of comedy that made me feel like I was watching a version of Amelie where she takes her neighbors hostage by accident. It’s a very kind novel. It's a very dark novel. It's a very light novel. It's a novel, it notes, about idiots.

(and now I understand why readers, after finishing All the Crooked Saints, have suggested I try a Backman novel)
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,170 reviews25.4k followers
September 4, 2020
This book has restored my faith in humanity. It’s 1am and I just finished reading this book, and I really enjoyed it. Fredrik Backman is such an incredible author, he has such a great way with words and I love that he can write such a light-hearted story about such a serious subject. Here are some notes I jotted down while reading, as well as some of my favorite quotes:

tw: suicide, death of a loved one, depression, suicidal thoughts
•The way this book talks about anxiety and depression just really hit me, it was all so relatable
•This book feels so light-hearted but it deals with such heavy subject matter, and I just love his writing, not many authors can have this perfect balance like this
•I love the relationship between the father and son who are both cops, they were so soft and adorable
•All the characters are so well fleshed out
•I like the way the timeline jumps back and forth and includes interview clips
•The audiobook is fantastic
•The ending made me tear up a bit 😭
•I love the theme of this book: we are all just doing our best and nobody really knows what we are doing
•”Our hearts are bars of soap that we keep losing hold of; the moment we relax, they drift off and fall in love and get broken, all in the wink of an eye. We’re not in control.”
•I love the discussion in this book about parenthood and how far parents will go to keep their children safe, and I love the quote: “parents are defined by their mistakes” because I think it’s super thought provoking and interesting
•”It’s so damn difficult to admit that something is... broken. That it’s an ache is our soul, invisible lead weights in our blood, an indescribable pressure in our chest. Our brains are lying to us telling us we’re going to die”
Profile Image for Angela M (On a little break).
1,270 reviews2,217 followers
February 15, 2020
4+ stars
I was anxious to read this book, good anxious, as in I couldn’t wait to read it. Fredrik Backman has been on my list of favorite authors since I read A Man Called Ove several years ago. I’ve have read all of his published books and I loved all of them. But when I started reading this one, I became anxious in another way. I was anxious because I thought I was going to end up not liking the book. It’s kind of a quirky story, bizarre at times. The narrator even says , “The whole thing is a complicated, unlikely story. Perhaps that’s because what we think stories are about often isn’t what they’re about at all. This for instance, might not actually be the story of a bank robbery, or an apartment viewing, or a hostage drama. Perhaps, it isn’t even a story of idiots. Perhaps this story is about a bridge.” ( From an advanced copy.)


A failed bank robbery that turns into an apartment hostage situation and it felt just a bit over the top, but then, as he always does, Backman sneaks up on you and you’re laughing one minute and heartbroken the next and ultimately your heart is stolen. I’m not even going to try to relay the plot here. Fans of Backman will want to read it for themselves. I will say, though, that I definitely was not disappointed and in the end, my anxiety was unwarranted. Its moving and reflective of Backman’s astute sense of humanity. A humanity in all of its glory as these characters share their anxieties over the burdens that life doles out, and they open their hearts to each other.

I was reminded of the parental love and anxiety over children that we saw in the Beartown books, of relationships between a parents and children, of relationships between husband and wives. There’s some of the same seemingly simple prose conveying something more meaningful than at first glance in this novel as in the others. The relationships that developed between strangers were perhaps the most poignant. Connections slowly unfold between characters and I felt myself slowly connecting to all of them, especially the bank robber. This felt personal and philosophical in many ways. The intimate tone reminded me of Things My Son Needs to Know about the World. I loved that Backman created these characters who made me believe at a time when I needed believing, that there just might be people who will do something even if it seems they shouldn’t, just because it’s the right thing to do.


I received an advanced copy of this book from Atria Books . A special thanks to Ariele Fredman.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,501 reviews24.5k followers
July 5, 2020
Fredrik Backman demonstrates with style and panache his remarkable and astute understanding of what it is to be human in this profound and philosophical locked room mystery that beguiles in how it pulls at our heartstrings, with its emotionally charged heartbreak, tragedy, humour and in the joy of human connectivity. He creates a host of stellar and diverse characters, including a rabbit, anxious, with messy and chaotic lives, and their idiocy, not only their idiocy, but all of our idiocy too. This is the perfect read for our troubled times, resonating deeply at so many levels, and if you don't connect with it immediately, I urge you to stick with it, the pay off will come in spades. When everything goes wrong for a bank robber, he ends up holding a group of hostages at an apartment viewing.

In this character driven narrative, with its maze like twists and turns, there are surprises as we learn of the stories of these characters, each of whom are skilfully developed. When the police storm the apartment, the bank robber has disappeared, what happened? The characters are interviewed, but all to little avail. Backman's storytelling is full of hope in how it zeroes in on the state of the human soul, outlining the incomparable value of kindness, understanding, humanity, forgiveness and compassion in a world of human idiocy. I found this novel to be reading of the highest order, so entertaining, with the ability to make you laugh and cry. It is a touching novel that cements Backman's reputation as a terrific must read author, smart, offbeat and imaginative. I have no hesitation in recommending this highly, I have no doubt I will be returning to it, time and time again in the future. Many thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph for an ARC.
Profile Image for Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill.
503 reviews623 followers
May 13, 2020
Wow! That was fantastic! This book is about.....being human. I have only read one other book by this author and it was Ove. I am probably the only person on this earth that didn't enjoy that book. I was like what is all the fuss about? Umm yeah ...THIS....this right here is what all the fuss is about. This author is absolutely brilliant to be able to put this story together in the manner that he did. I am going to say one thing...Kevin Bacon...Nope Kevin Bacon is not in this book, but just keep that in the back of your mind...Let me know if you get it after you read this.

Why did I love this book so much? Oh my gosh, there are sooo many reasons. It was so amazingly clever that you would be reading along thinking you knew exactly what was going on...and then I would literally stop dead in my tracks and go OMG...wow...really? Yet it all made perfect sense. It is such a well thought out progression throughout the story, that it simply amazes me that someone can dig in that deep and produce that for us. Yes, yes, I am now a fangirl, I admit.

Here's a little what to expect without spoiling anything for you, because you will never forgive me if I did! Expect a bank robber who attempts to rob a cashless bank.. Hmm okay bank robber, I had no idea that was a thing either, so I am right there with you. The "worst hostages ever." Man these hostages were entertaining. A guy wearing a rabbit costume (only the head) standing in his underwear smoking a cigarette. Yep that is an example of your hostages! SO entertaining, with a witty, snarky, dry humor...little snippets by the author- telling us not to think about cookies, aww now I want a cookie.

We really got to see what made each character in the book tick. The character development was superb! The story was so unique, that piece by piece it fell into place.It constantly kept turning out one surprise after another. Super clever. ❤️

Obviously....I loved it! Grab a copy as soon as you can, this is a must read! I can't thank Atria Books enough for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book knocked my socks off!
Profile Image for Dem.
1,175 reviews1,064 followers
October 29, 2020
I tried, I really tried folks, but I just didn't find it funny, compassionate or entertaining. So many of my friends are loving this one and I enjoyed reading their reviews on the novel but for me it was a tedious and an annoying read.

Looking back on the books I have read by this author I just realised I don't enjoy his humour. Having loved Beartown and And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and disliking Britt-Marie Was Here,A Man Called Ove his humour is wasted on me.

I thought this novel just trying to hard to be quirky and while I get the author’s attempts at mixing heartbreak and comedy for me it just didn't work and reading it was such a chore. I considered giving up at 50% but it’s a Blackman novel and I really wanted it to turn around but sadly for me this one was just too farcical. I especially hated the The Witness Interviews and found myself skimming through them.

I didn’t enjoy the characters so really the book had no redeeming features for me. While I didn't like it I know I have friends who will love this one and I will be happy to pass it on.
I am glad that this book is bringing joy to so many readers as it’s been a tough few months and humour is the best medicine. For readers who enjoy quirky and humorous novels you may love Anxious people.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
3,930 reviews2,161 followers
January 19, 2023
Well, this book is one of his best so far. One of his most popular books didn't work for me. But I had a right vibe about this one and I was so, so, so crazy about its release ever since I saw the cover reveal. And yes, this book is going to be adapted as a TV series! I mean just do it 🖤

The story is about, yes, a few idiots who got in a weird situation while checking out an apartment (for that matter a not-so-functional cheap one). An idiotic bank robbery attempt with the bank robber ending up with a real estate agent, an old lady, a lesbian couple - one of them pregnant, another couple always in a fight mode, a rabbit man (don't ask me how he fits here), two more characters who works in banks. Two police officers trying to crack the identity of the bank robber. A most likely hostage situation. A most unlikely outcome. Lots of pizza love sharing. Lots of more love and support for the culprit. But anyone can be the culprit. And yes, that's the plot.

I cannot believe I would ever read a book like this which I would whole heartedly cheer for the culprit. And you will know why the characters in the book do too. This is such a heartwarming and, yes, a heartbreaking read (as always with his books!). I didn't cry while reading the book. But the last page broke me. And yes, I felt the 5 🌟 tears when the book ended.

The writing is full of dry humour, satirical and yes, trying at times. Now and then I felt so bored (yes, why?! How come?!). You might feel the same as well. I assure you it's been deliberately written this way. And oh, you will be so glad you didn't skip these parts. Otherwise, don't tell me I didn't warn you, you might go back to these pages to get the best out of this read.

But yes, pay attention to the details. Pay attention to the irritating, annoying behaviour and dialogues of these certified idiots. You won't regret knowing them.

Partly suspenseful, partly investigation room drama, partly hostage scenario, partly dramatic and partly narrations of each of these characters and partly how their biggest life issues get resolved in the end, this book is so incredibly well written.

Not all stories are with answers, not all marriages are made in heaven, not all father-son relationship is that amazing, not all perfect stories are perfect.

This story represented well our shortcomings, our disparities, our faults, our adult lives which aren't so perfect. The characters represent well our weaknesses and strengths, our disappointments and then what we could do to actually become who we are. I just love how character driven this story is. Multiple characters that work out really good. I say, amazingly written.

Each of the character has been well represented. There's both character growth and the plot is well etched out. The ending is almost like a fairy tale. It's perfect.

Trigger warnings for suicide and suicidal acts, anxiety, infidelity.

Treat yourself with this book! I love both the Atria and the Penguin editions!!!🖤

I was so so so anxiously waiting for this one 🧐😳😲 and yes, this book is sooooo well done!!!!

I am so happy I ended up rating it a perfect 5 🌟 a day after reading it. And I am so glad I didn't write the review just after I finished reading it.
Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 15 books1,433 followers
January 16, 2021
This author has a great talent and I will read anything he writes.
I loved, loved A Man Called Ov so maybe my expectations were set a little too high on Anxious People. I did enjoy this book a great deal and would recommend it to anyone. The concept is unique, a bank robbery investigated by a father and son and their conflicts. This would’ve been five stars had the backstory of “The bank robber,” not been in second person. This structure not only stopped the forward motion of the story but for me it was like fingernails on a chalkboard. I have no problem with first person, third person and third person close, second person tossed me out of the story and held me at arm’s length.
In the first part of the book the author doesn’t stay with anyone character long enough for the reader to relate to them. For me this is critically important for establishing what I need most out of a book, The Fictive Dream, a state where I become immersed in the story. During the opening pages of most books authors are tasked with endearing the reader to the character, what I’ve heard described as, “Patting the head of the dog.”
The big reason this book works and is so popular is the author’s credibility, he is a wonderful talent who readers trust implicitly and are willing to give him a few pages to set up the story. The book really digs in on page 107 so hold out a little longer if tempted to put it down, you won’t regret it. Four out of five stars.
David Putnam author of the Bruno Johnson Series
Profile Image for PorshaJo.
435 reviews655 followers
September 20, 2020
Oh this one pains me, but I'm going to be the outlier on it. I am a fan of Backman. Read a number of his books, saw him speak in person about one of them, and even got to meet him and get a photo with him. Great speaker, engaging, and nice guy, the photo was his suggestion. When I saw he was to have a new book out, again I bugged my library so long ago about....and when it arrived I was number one in the queue. I dropped my other reads and immediately started it. And along the way....I almost DNF'd it.

This one is the story about a bunch of idiots. Ok, so many reviews out there I'll just say there is a bank robbery that goes wrong. There are a bunch of people, idiots, who all come together for this story bringing in topics such as suicide, loniness, grief, cancer, love, anxiety, and more. Oh yeah and a hostage situation. With bumbling police. And, it was just too much, over the top for me. The 'interviews' the police tried to conduct with the witnesses were just obnoxious. I really didn't believe that all of these people treated the police like this and just would not answer them, just unbelievable. (Not that I believe people actually fly on magical brooms and play quiddich, but just different for me.) Perhaps this wasn't the right time for me to read this one. Perhaps I'm starting to gravitate away from Backman. I wasn't supper joyed with Beartown #2.

I will also say I listened to the audio and it drove me nuts. The narration made the characters sound extra obnoxious, just waaaaaay over the top. It's funny, this narrator did another book this year which I absolutely adored and loved, loved, loved the narration. Just not for this one. Perhaps if I read print it might have been slightly different, not really sure. So why did I keep reading? Well,when I thought of DNFing and saw 213 people waiting I thought, finish it, it's just you. So I did, and I'm sure it's just me, or just not the right time.....but I will check out more from Backman in the future. Give it one more try.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,846 reviews34.9k followers
June 12, 2020
“This was a story about many different things, but most of all about idiots. Because we’re doing the best we can, we really are. We’re trying to be grown-up and love each other and understand how the hell you’re supposed to insert USB leads. We are looking for something to cling onto, something to fight for, something to look forward to. We’re doing all we can to teach our children how to swim”.

Love Fredrik Backman? Long time fan?
Me too!

New to Backman?
His stories ... in the most raw sense of the word....are about humanity!

“How do you manage to have such a long marriage? she asked”.
“You fight for it, Estelle replied honestly”.
“Julia didn’t seem to like that quite as much”.
“That doesn’t sound very romantic”.
“Estelle grinned knowingly.
“You have to listen to each other all the time. But not ‘all’ the time. If you listen to each other ‘all’ the time, there’s a risk that you can’t forgive each other afterward”.

“And that’s the weirdest thing about being someone’s parent. Not just a bank robber parent, but any parent: that you are loved in spite of everything that you are. Even astonishingly late in life, people seem incapable of considering that their parents might not be super- smart and really funny and immortal. Perhaps there’s a biological reason for that, that up to a certain age a child loves you unconditionally and hopelessly for one single reason: you’re theirs. Which is a pretty smart move on biology’s heart, you have to give it that”.

Fredrik Backman has an exceptional keen eye ...
a brilliant light touch... for the way that tragic, comic, and tenderness mingle together.

This book reminded me of how short life really is. During our journey we see changes, possibly the truth,
hopefully love, and an openness for reconciliation.

...Touching and relatable ....
...Beautiful, quirky, playful, compelling, urgent, funny,
and compassionate.

Thank you Atria Books, Netgalley, and Fredrik Backman

Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,365 reviews9,429 followers
October 14, 2020
Omg!! I love this author so much!! It took me awhile to quit crying so I could write a few words. This book gave me all of the feels and got plopped right on my favorites list!



This is a story about a bank robbery, an apartment viewing, and a hostage drama. But even more it’s a story about idiots. But perhaps not only that.


I love each of the characters so damn much. They just stole my heart. This book is funny, sad, hopeful.... There is suicide. There is everything. I marked many pages. The book took me by surprise because I thought one thing was happening and things turned out so different and good and beautiful.

This book also had me laughing on and off as well as the crying. I’ll leave a few more quotes and end it there. I look forward to reading this over and over. And I have to say, I wish I could find me a crazy, sweet group like this and be friends forever.

"So now we all know each other! Lovely!" Estelle declared, so delighted that she clapped her hands. And for such a slight person she could clap her hands surprisingly hard. Which isn’t a great thing to do in a room in which someone is holding a pistol, seeing as everyone thought that the sudden clap was a pistol shot and threw themselves down to the floor.

The bank robber looked at the prone bodies in surprise, then, with a scratch of the head, turned to Estelle and said: "Thanks. That was very helpful of you."

*

Then Roger looked around for something heavy to attach the note to, and eventually found a round object that seemed just the right density. That was how the police came to hear someone shout from the balcony again, and when Jack looked up, a lime hit him on the forehead.

From a distance, that makes one hell of a bump.




Happy Reading!
Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

BLOG: https://melissa413readsalot.blogspot....
Profile Image for Liz.
1,914 reviews2,350 followers
February 14, 2021
5 big lovely stars!
“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 can forget how idiotically difficult being human is.”
Jack is having a really bad day. A police officer, he’s investigating a bank robbery that wasn’t a robbery, that led to a hostage situation and a missing perpetrator. The witness interviews all have a sense of “who’s on first?” to them. Well, his day might not be as bad as the bank robber’s, who might have been shot, but has gone missing and so who knows? “The bank robber undeniably had a point. Not that this is in any way defense. Bank robbers, they can have bad days at work, too. Hand on heart, which of us hasn’t wanted to pull a gun after talking to a twenty year old?”
This book is much more broadly humorous than his other works. But he still deals with all the important issues - the anxiety a parent feels worrying about a child, the anxiety one sibling has when another goes off the rails, the anxiety of being an adult, even the anxiety a stranger has for another soul in agony.
I love Backman’s way of looking at the world, his ability to express things so perfectly. “Suddenly, you find yourselves living alongside each other, not with each other.” I found myself highlighting all sorts of passages, big and small.
Backman employs an unknown narrator to talk to the reader, which works really well. The narrator actually empathizes not just with the characters, but with us, because we all share the same emotions, desires and needs. There are lots of laughs here, but also crying. Keep the hankies handy. I loved the ending and the twists that Backman used.
It’s especially poignant that Backman lost a friend to suicide and has suffered from panic attacks.
My thanks to netgalley and Atria Books for an advance copy of this book.

Update - reading this for book club and it’s equally impressive the second time around. And I love the way he has the narrator speak directly to the reader, like breaking through the fourth wall in plays.
Profile Image for Christine .
568 reviews1,068 followers
August 10, 2020
5 stars

OK, so according to the author, this book is about a botched bank robbery, an apartment open house, and a hostage situation. That’s it. And most everyone in the story is an idiot. Again, author’s words. Does this sound like a must-read to you? No? It certainly doesn’t to me either. But I read it because I have faith in said author to deliver a great story no matter how boring the premise. Did I like it? Yes, I did. I actually loved it. And I loved it enough to put it in my potential “best book of the year” category (which only has one other book in it so far).

Wow, this author. Fredrik Backman sure understands the human struggle. The struggle to survive, to connect, to love, to do the right thing by others, and to just live a decent life. He could take an empty room with white-washed walls, beige carpeting, no windows, and two people and turn the scene into a Pulitzer prize-winning novel. And he does it with humor. Ridiculous humor—my kind of humor. I laughed out loud many times during this story but cried throughout the last several chapters, which served brilliantly as the epilogue.

Early on I read one of his novellas. I think I gave it a two-star rating. What the hell was wrong with me then? I never reread anything, but I’m going to reread that novella and see what I think of it now. More than 2 stars worth, I’m sure.

This story is chock full of fascinating characters, 12 in all, I believe. Most of them are misfits—anxious misfits, and it was so captivating to follow them through this essentially one-day story. All at the same time this book is compelling, heartfelt, inspiring, and ridiculous.

I can’t write well enough to really give this novel its due. Just trust me when I say you need to read it. It will be good for your soul.

Thank you Net Galley, Atria Books/Simon and Shuster, and Fredrik Backman for allowing me to read an ARC of this book. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.
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