In the weeks leading up to the 2017 Manitoba Book Awards gala, Terry MacLeod who was co-hosting the event, roved the aisles of McNally Robinson Booksellers interviewing people about the books they were reading. Videos of the interviews were posted on the Writers Guild Facebook page. One woman Terry interviewed was Pat Barter Cook and she talked about the book A Man Called Ove. She said it was a story about an older grief-stricken man named Ove who got up every morning with a plan to kill himself. If that wasn’t enough to hook future readers Pat also told us despite the fact Ove was pretty curmudgeonly she had grown to love him almost immediately. On Thursday when I was at McNallys for my writers’ group meeting I walked past the book A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman displayed at the end of an aisle and couldn’t help but buy it based on Pat’s intriguing interview with Terry.
I wasn’t disappointed. The book tells the story of how Ove is forced, despite himself, to engage in relationships with his neighbors and that engages him in life again. This all happens in a very funny touching way. The book reminded me of a Ted Talk by Harvard researcher Robert Waldinger who describes an in-depth 75 year study of the same people’s lives. The results clearly show relationships keep us happier and healthier. Social connections are good for us and loneliness kills. People who have good social connections live longer, are physically and mentally healthier, and are happier.
A Man Called Ove makes that point in spades! I throughly enjoyed the novel. Thanks Terry MacLeod and Pat Barter Cook for the prompt to buy it.