This reading guide shares 40 epic book club questions for A Man Called Ove, the beloved, bestselling novel by Swedish author Fredrik Backman.
- #1 New York Times Bestseller
- MORE THAN TWO MILLION COPIES SOLD
Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it’s often one of the great motivations for living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before it has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.
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.
He believed so strongly in things: justice and fair play and hard work and a world where right just had to be right.
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.
And if you don’t know the story, you don’t know the man.
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, and I have no doubt that Ove will impact your life for years to come.
His heart is too big.
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 the type of book you’ll want to pair with a movie like About Schmidt, As Good as It Gets, Up, and/or Grumpy Old Men.
And it’s perfect for your book club with 40 thoughtful, handwritten discussion questions below.
Check the current price of A Man Called Ove:
40 Book Club Questions for A Man Called Ove
NOTE: THESE BOOK CLUB QUESTIONS CONTAIN SPOILERS!!
Below are 40 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?
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?
Check the current price of A Man Called Ove:
If you liked these book club questions for A Man Called Ove, sign up to receive The Literary Lifestyle emails for free. Each week, I’ll send you a FREE *cozy* email with themed book + lifestyle pairings to make your reading life easier & more fun. It’s like Reading Rainbow for women!
P.S. – When you subscribe, I’ll instantly send you all my bookish printable PDFs as a FREE BONUS.