oveSometimes you come away from reading a highly entertaining book that gives you a renewed sense of hope and understanding. I think of them as books with heart, and Fredrik Backman’s recently translated novel, A Man Called Ove is such a book. Ove is a curmudgeon with no tolerance for deviation from the way things should be done, and he has a strong sense of what that way is; in a word, his. His life, while not an ecstatic kind of life, has been useful and that is satisfying to him. If his joys have been few and small, his joy with his wife was great big and mystifying. Now she’s been gone six months, and he’s been released from his job at age 59. The days stretch out, punctuated by irritating encounters with inept neighbors and a mangy stray cat. And every time he is prepared to slip the noose around his neck, blow his brains out (with plastic strategically placed to catch the splatter), or fill his car with exhaust, he is interrupted by the previously mentioned highly annoying neighbors. Will Ove every successfully end his dreary life?

If I were to give a list of the same type of books that I’ve read–perfect for a beach read, but with enough heart and substance to stay with you longer than the sand in your shoes, here it is:

Love May Fail by Matthew Quicklovemayfail

The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

and another import by Fredrik Backman, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry

 

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