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This reading guide shares the most thought-provoking book club questions for A Man Called Ove (also known as A Man Called Otto), the beloved, bestselling novel by Swedish author Fredrik Backman. Plus, get a free printable PDF of the questions to take with you!

  • #1 New York Times bestseller
  • More than two million copies sold

Five out of five stars.

In A Man Called Ove, the reader immediately learns that Ove is a curmudgeon — a grumpy old man with a disdain for disorder and the modern world.

Like the layers of an onion, however, as the story unfolds, so too do details of Ove’s past. Underneath a tough exterior, he’s a sad and lonely man, grieving the loss of the love of his life, along with a whole lot of other hardships. He’s a man who has truly lived his many years.

He just wants to end it all, but through a series of failed suicide attempts, meets a young family moving in next door to him. The extroverted mother, Parveneh, like Ove’s wife brings “color” to Ove’s “black and white” view, and they end up providing each other both companionship and usefulness in life.

At the end of the day, it’s about how one life impacts many others.

This is one character-driven book that’s captured my mind and heart for years now, and when I asked my Instagram followers to name their favorite Fredrik Backman book, A Man Called Ove won by a landslide (followed by Beartown).

It’s recently become a movie called A Man Called Otto starring Tom Hanks. Watch the trailer below:

A Man Called Ove is a perfect book for your book club, so below are thoughtful discussion questions for your group.

Book Club Questions for A Man Called Ove


Below are the best book discussion questions for A Man Called Ove, which I created as a reading group guide for you:

Describe the character of Ove and how you envision him.

What positive and negative characteristics does Ove have?

What has contributed to Ove’s pessimistic mindset generally?

Why do you think Ove has such an ongoing battle with the modern world in particular?

Why does Ove confront life in such controlled, ritualistic ways?

Can you identify with any of Ove’s gripes with life?

How does Ove view himself?

Discuss Ove’s relationship with Sonja.

What do you think Sonja saw in Ove?

Do you agree with Sonja that “loving someone is like moving into a house”?

How may Ove be different if he were a father?

Describe Ove’s relationship with his own father.

What made Ove hate “men in white shirts”?

How did Ove change after his wife died?

How does Ove cope with his grief?

Does Ove live more in the past, present, or future?

What is the significance of the specific cars Ove and Rune drive?

Describe Parveneh.

What made Ove able to connect with the cat and with Parveneh?

Discuss the significance of “the Lanky One.”

Are Ove and Parveneh “likely” or “unlikely” friends?

Why does Ove want to commit suicide?

What do you make of Ove’s failed suicide attempts?

How do Ove and Parveneh change over time?

What did Ove contribute to Parveneh and visa versa?

Discuss the concept of masculinity in A Man Called Ove.

How would this novel be different if Ove were a woman?

Did your opinion of Ove change over the course of the novel?

Did Ove’s life story surprise you?

How does Ove express emotion?

Why do you think Backman wrote this story in a non-chronological format, and do you agree with his choice?

Discuss the role of community in the novel.

A Man Called Ove takes place in Sweden. Does it resonate where you live?

Did the ending surprise you?

Discuss the irony in Ove’s death.

What does the turnout at Ove’s funeral symbolize?

Do you know anyone like Ove in real life?

Did you learn any lessons from A Man Called Ove to apply in your own life?

What is Ove’s legacy?

Do you consider A Man Called Ove to be a happy or sad book?

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the overall message of A Man Called Ove?

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman shows the profound impact of human connection and the redemptive power of community. Through Ove, a seemingly grumpy old man coping with grief, the story unravels the power of unexpected friendships and kindness from his neighbors, especially the vibrant Parvaneh, who gives him a second chance at a purposeful life. The novel serves as a reminder of the enduring spirit of humanity.

What is the difference between A Man Called Ove and A Man Called Otto?

A Man Called Ove is a bestselling book by Fredrik Backman, a Swedish author. A Man Called Otto is the 2022 America-based movie adaptation of the book, starring Tom Hanks.

Buy A Man Called Ove:


These A Man Called Ove book club questions offer readers a heartwarming journey into the depths of human connection and resilience. Through the lens of Ove’s poignant and often humorous experiences, Fredrik Backman presents a narrative rich in real-life themes that are perfect for discussion.

Keep the discussion going! Share your thoughts on A Man Called Ove or any remaining questions you may have in the comments below.  

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