Cover Image: Anxious People

Anxious People

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Fun and insightful, Fredrik Backman has the knack of getting inside your head and pulling out thoughts to then express perfectly on paper. Nothing will ever beat Ove but this was an enjoyable, touching, sometimes comical read. His characters are flawed in an enjoyably relatable way!
Was this review helpful?
I’ve read books by this author before and really enjoyed them, I’m glad to say this is the same – brilliant, brilliantly written and just a joy to read.

Thank you NetGalley for my complimentary copy in return for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
‘Anxious People’ was such a moving story that centres around a group of hostages when a bank robbery goes wrong. Jack, a young policeman, is at his wits ends trying to figure out where the bank robber has disappeared to. The group of hostages are most unhelpful with his enquiries but slowly the whole bizarre story emerges.
This book was a delight, I loved the humour, it matched the farcical nature of the story and lightened up some of the more serious discussions that took place. This book unravels slowly to show how each of these characters have unknowingly crossed paths throughout their lives. Backman creates a cast of the most ridiculous characters yet the whole thing is still believable. 
This is my second Backman book and I’m captivated with how well he can write deeply human characters. Many topics were addressed in this story but I really enjoyed Zara’s storyline and her struggles with anxiety, I thought it was done very well. A great book to curl up and pass an afternoon with!
Was this review helpful?
I am in two minds about this book. There are so many wonderful moments in it and it is skilfully plotted but somehow it was not for me, even though I have always enjoyed reading Mr Backman’s books in the past.  I found it all just a bit too whimsical and ponderous in parts and towards the end I was skipping through passages that didn’t interest me.  

Many thanks for letting me read and review Anxious People, I am looking forward to reading more from Mr Backman in the not too distant future.
Was this review helpful?
Told in a mixture of interview transcripts and third person accounts from the perspectives of a huge array of characters; from the bank robber, two small town policemen who happen to be father and son, the bank teller and the hostages themselves.  This is a closed room mystery where the police try to figure out what happened to the bank robber, as after all the hostages are released they is nowhere to be found.  

I love how the word Stockholmer, meaning in its purest form somebody from the Swedish capital takes on such different meanings depending on who is using it.  From a euphemism for being gay to being a person who looks down on others for their provincial ways and for many of the characters an insult.   
This is a book about idiots, and how we can all do very stupid things sometimes and the lengths people will go to for their kids.

Some of the characters are so overemphasized to be caricature-like, this doesn’t seem to detract from the story, in fact it makes it funnier.   The 20 year old bank teller called London who is constantly playing with his phone and saying really stupid things is a prime example.

This is a difficult book to review, as when analysed and taken apart much of this book is quite frankly idiotic, but when you put it all together it works and in such a way as to emphasis how we are all interconnected.   Both poignant and hilarious at the same time, and that is not an easy thing to pull off. 
 Hilarious and touching. A book reminding us that we can all make some silly mistakes and everybody needs a second chance sometime. 

4.5 stars
Review scheduled to be published on 25th Feb 2021
Was this review helpful?
‘This is a story about a bridge, and idiots, and a hostage drama and an apartment viewing. But it’s also a love story. Several, in fact.’

Where to start with Anxious People? It’s one of those books that really sneaks up on you and tugs at your heart strings in a way I was not expecting. I was fully ugly-crying in the middle of the day by the end – thank goodness there is a pandemic or I likely would have been crying on a train instead of in my living room! 

Whenever I see that a book is labelled as ‘funny’ my guard goes up. This book is not laugh out-loud funny but it is humorous in it’s writing and that makes it a genuine pleasure to read. I must give full kudos to the translators who have kept the charm of the author without sacrificing anything. This book is also very quotable with some great phrases about modern life. 

At first I thought the book was a little farcical (the exchange with the estate agent in particular) but then as we learn about each character and how they came to be where they are it just became poignant instead. Each character has a hidden facet that we slowly learn about as the book progresses and I enjoyed how well-rounded and interesting they were as a result. I also enjoyed how the author turned some exchanges on their head or introduced small cliff-hangers or reveals at the end of chapters to keep tension high and made it hard to put the book down! 

Overall, Anxious People is a poignant and touching story about anxiety and how our life impacts those around us - it’s a pleasure to read and I highly recommend it. Thank you to NetGalley & Penguin – Michael Joseph UK for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
An interesting one and I’m not totally sure if I loved it, but I did enjoy it! The characters were interesting and well developed but left wanting a little more
Was this review helpful?
Another OUTSTANDING, BRILLIANT, POIGNANT, EMOTIONAL, COMPASSIONATE novel by one of my favourite authors, Fredrik Backman.

I listened to his latest book Anxious People on Audible which normally takes me between 7 and 10 days as I only listen when walking the dog… EXCEPT this time, I listened to the book in 2 sittings, refusing to talk to the family, walk the dog and even read on my kindle because this is, in my opinion, my new favourite audio book of the year and considering I finished it on 7th January 2021 that is quite a statement.

Fredrik Backman has the ability to create the most wonderful, quirky, funny, sad, unlikeable, loveable characters and bring them to life in your mind in such a way they become a part of your family and grab a piece of your heart.

Once again the observational humour is spot-on, the clever and indepth ways the author has of bringing everyday situations, interactions and behaviours to the forefront of the story is a work of art.

Anxious People is a wonderful escape from reality, with one of the best narrators I’ve listened to, and a storyline that will make you laugh, groan, cry and smile all at the same time. If you are feeling low, then pick up this wonderful story and immerse yourself in this tiny town in Sweden which finds itself in the midst of a bank robbing, hostage taking situation with the most eclectic group of characters who over the space of a few hours learn more about themselves and what it really means to be human.

Was this review helpful?
This book made me think of the expression misery likes company. Because, when I listened to this, I’ve been feeling miserable. And I enjoyed being around other people who were stressed out over life. Anxious People portrays a group of people who are ultimately an assemblage of the best of human nature despite their multiple flaws. It’s beautiful, it’s real and truly unforgettable. 

This book shows human facets, that to describe as entertaining, heartbreaking and enjoyable, is just too simplistic. It shows how wishful, idiotic, kind, mean, clever and compassionate humans are. It illustrates imperfection in a variety of ways. It considers how our individual actions have a greater effect beyond ourselves and immediate surroundings. It explores human connection, tense relationships, life upheaval, loss, feeling suicidal, experiencing depression and everyday stress in amongst the anxiety of everything else. One minute I was smiling at something funny and then the next I was deflating like a balloon due to a character’s pains. 

Whilst I really liked Anxious People, I found reading the e-book challenging. The style of Backman’s writing and the story’s progression (which jumps focus from character to character and timelines) wasn’t really my cup of tea, so I resorted to the audiobook to help me finish the book, which breathed new life into the way I felt about the story.

Listening to the audiobook in lockdown made me feel like I was less alone. Not only was this good for my sanity, but I felt less alone in my anxiety about life and everything going on around me. Marin Ireland did a marvellous job of distinguishing each character so they all stood out; it felt enthusiastic and genuine, and Ireland is probably one of my favourite narrators I’ve listened to. 

This is a complicated, hearty story that has generated a greater appreciation the more I’ve thought on it. It’s an exploration of feeling helpless, with striking prose, relatable imagery and metaphors. It’s cleverly woven and interconnected yet reads very jumbled, thereby emphasising anxiety and flaws, providing further sincerity and emotive dimensions to a poignant novel. And all the while, in my opinion, it does weaken the readability of the book, Anxious People is most definitely worth a read - especially the audiobook - if you’re ever in need of a story that reminds us we’re all capable of being anxious people at the end of the day.
Was this review helpful?
This was a strange one for me, I really couldn’t get into this book at all and was sure it was going to be a miss. But all of a sudden it clicked with me and I loved it and by the end I wanted to read more like this book. The premise for this book made me want to read it and once it hooked me I was so glad I chose to read it.

A bungled attempted robbery in Sweden develops into an hostage situation with the would be robber refusing to communicate with the police. Seven hostages are trapped inside a building and the strange thing is it is the hostages who think it should be a little more dramatic. Robbing a cashless bank was never going to end up a success and when the hostages are forced into a nearby apartment block that is up for sale they all become friends. The police investigation is led by a father and son combination and they try to solve the case with the minimum of fuss.

The characters are excellent and funny making this novel a very enjoyable read. A book that for me started so badly turned up to be an unexpected success. I will certainly look to read more of this author in the future.

I would like to thank both Netgalley and Penguin Michael Joseph UK for supplying a copy of this novel in exchange for an hones review.
Was this review helpful?
I liked the Beartown books by the author and was pleased to read his latest novel. On the surface, it is a story about a bank robbery that goes wrong but there is so much more. It is a tale of a small town police office, family relationships and past events. Each character was compelling and interesting. A very satisfying read.
Was this review helpful?
I gave found it challenging to get into any book during lockdown but was gripped from
The first page. I love everything he had written
Was this review helpful?
The nod to the absurd from the narrator is characteristic of what I've come to expect from Fredrick Backman and I expect if I was in a different headspace, I'd have found it warm and witty, illuminating clever observations on life.  Unfortunately I'm just not there at this moment...
Was this review helpful?
In a year when I’ve managed to read more books than ever before, only a few have truly stood out. This is one of those books! Anxious People is such a perfect book. It takes the reader through the full gamut of emotions, with characters that you may start by disliking, but that as the book progresses, you soon grow to love and understand. The plot is simple - a bank robbery gone wrong, and a group of people thrown together in an unplanned hostage situation. But Backman has managed to weave a tale that grabs the heart of the reader and it doesn’t let go until the last few pages. Just brilliant!
Was this review helpful?
“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 about idiots."

cw: suicide, drug use (alluded to)

This is, as the description states, “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.”.

OK first off, I don't know how to talk about this book without spoiling the joy of reading it. My main point is to read it, and go in as blindly as possible. I really didn't know what to expect from it, having never read any of Backman's previous work, and I was surprised by how the story worked its way inside me.

The writing style throughout is upbeat and carefree, even while many heavy issues are covered. The book made me laugh. The book made me cry. The book made me write down passages to keep aside for myself.

The cast of characters in the story are wonderfully written. Initially I as a reader hated the majority of them, and was at least annoyed by the rest. That hate quickly turned to understanding, and then developed further. There is plot, and it's brilliantly written, but really this is a book about character exploration and how relatable people can become if you get to know them.

I'll also give a mention to the excellent translation – there was one piece of wordplay in particular that I'm pretty sure (according to Google Translate, anyway!) wouldn't have worked in the original Swedish. I can only assume that the credit for adapting it so perfectly into an equivalent English pun was the work of the translator, Neil Smith.

4.5/5, rounded up.
Was this review helpful?
Having loved 'A Man Called Ove' I was really looking forward to reading this one. However, unlike 'Ove' which grabbed me from the start, this was a book I could just read in fits & starts. The story of an apartment viewing, a botched bank robbery, a bridge & a very odd assortment of characters should either be too bizarre to finish or quirky enough to devour- somehow it fell between the two. There are lots of really touching moment, some really funny ones, some just plain silly ones, & some that really leave you checking you've read that right! 

Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for giving me the chance to read & review this book. I gave it a 3.5, but rounded up to 5 for all the lovely bits.
Was this review helpful?
It is a unique reading experience with Fredrik Backman, and it often takes a few chapters to appreciate a special journey is underway. Sometimes the humour and dialogue feel unusual but once into the novel, his turn of phrase becomes entertaining and revealing of the characters.

Anxious People, like the stalled elevator scenario, poses characters that are trapped in a confined location, and as they settle in for a long wait, individual stories of different influences and choices that led them to that moment are intriguingly revealed. A past where backgrounds are unknowingly crossed sets up a future that will be altered over the next few hours. Each person will be compelled to change their relationships and the direction they were travelling.

I am always intrigued by the interpretations and perspectives different people can apply to the same situation. How perspectives can affect how we deal with incidents and how we harbour issues that shape how we deal with future events. Backman serves up compelling observations on human interactions and relationships with an edge of anticipation.

A bank robber attempts to hold-up a cashless bank for exactly six thousand five hundred kronor. The strange behaviour and apparent naivety foster a mystery and deeper anxiety for the bank robber. Even when the bank robber runs into an apartment during a viewing with an estate agent, and holds eight people hostage, our empathy remains with the bank robber. The personal stories unfold with great fascination and sentiment, and we often wonder what the central theme of the novel is.
“The truth? It’s hardly ever as complicated as we think. We just hope it is, because then we feel smarter if we can work it out in advance. This is a story about a bridge, and idiots, and a hostage drama and an apartment viewing. But it’s also a love story. Several, in fact.”
When all hostages are released, the police storm the apartment, but by then it is empty. The mystery is widened when the perspective of two detectives, father and son, Jim and Jack, are introduced and periodically told through their eyes. Each with their own private circumstances and motives that influence how they react.

There is a wonderful wordplay around the fact that this story is based in Sweden and the reference made to Stockholmers – a term formally used to name people from Stockholm, a derogatory term of idiots used by many Swedes outside Stockholm and very aptly a term used in association with a particular Syndrome. It is more than just a word; it is an expression more than it is a place.

Fredrik Backman has his own unique style and if variety appeals to you then slotting in a Backman book every now and again is a wonderful experience. He delivers the novel in an enthralling storytelling manner where he often talks directly to the reader and weaves humour with heartbreak.

I would highly recommend this book and I would like to thank Penguin Michael Joseph UK and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Another book I loved from Backman. I love his writing and style. This one started a bit different than the others, but as I moved on with the story he brought his unique approach and I loved it. 
If you like his writing, you'll like this book. 
Thanks a lot to nG and the publisher for this copy.
Was this review helpful?
"A bank robbery. A hostage drama. A stairwell full of police officers on their way to storm an apartment. It was easy to get to this point, much easier than you might think. All it took was one single really bad idea.
This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots. "

This has to be one of the best openings to a book ever. Thank you Net Galley and Penguin for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 
I have read many books by Fredik Backman, so was excited to be allowed to read his latest addition to the collection. 

From the off set the book begins its humorous account of a bank robbery gone wrong. I mean... It's definitely an opportunity for some hilarious antics and this book doesn't disappoint with that.

The language is wonderful. There are some moments where I literally laughed aloud and giggled all the way through. 
Solely in the first chapter, Fredrik compares the knowledge of sex to a usb leads" wrong way round, wrong way round, wrong way round and there! In" as well as the bank robbers mum "consisted of so much gin and tonic that they didn't dare cremate her because of risk of explosion". The book is full of these little gems. 

The structure of the book is very disjointed and goes back and forth in time. The writing seems to go off on tangents just as of you were having a conversation with someone who was relaying this tale rather than reading a book, which could make alot of people ... Well anxious.... As the flow of the book isn't smooth transitions and could almost be deemed as frustrating to some.

However, the structure of the book becomes a unique quality. We start to learn more about the individual characters. Again at first all deemed annoying and unlikable in there own rights, but Backman builds on these qualities as and reader sees that first impressions aren't always correct.
Like all his books Backman looks at the characters in a manor that makes us laugh and cry at the same  time. Each character is not an "idiot" as the introduction may lead us to believe but actually a spider web of intricately knitted problems that all of us may have encountered at some point in our lives. The bank robber who messes up everything just to pay the rent; Roger who's life is the buying and selling of these apartments to fill a granchildless void, Ro who is missing her father's support and is needing an apartment for her blossoming family with Julie; Zara who's attends viewings because of addiction and routine, Jack and Jim and many other characters.  We realise it's more than a bank robbery gone wrong; it's a story about people helping others; chance meetings.

Anxious people was not what I was was better.
Was this review helpful?
Fredrik Blackman is one of my favourite authors so I was delighted to have the opportunity to read Anxious People in exchange for an honest review. One of the best things about reading Backman is that every book is different – you never know what to expect, except a good story with great characters. I loved everything about this story: the great cast of eccentric characters, their relationships, the mystery, the humour, and the poignancy.
Definitely one of my favourite books of 2020.
Was this review helpful?