A Man Called Ove

A Man Called OveMy mom practically shoved A Man Called Ove at me and exclaimed, “YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!” When I asked her what it was about, she said, “A grumpy old Swedish man who wants to kill himself. You’ll LOVE it!” Um what?


Ove is an old-fashioned curmudgeon who is surrounded by incompetent neighbors who are caught up in technology, lax about rules, and oblivious of basic maintenance. It’s all incredibly irritating for Ove. He goes on a daily neighborhood inspection to ensure that everything is in order and rules are not being broken.

There used to be a forest here but now there were only houses. Everything paid for with loans, of course. That was how you did it nowadays. Shopping on credit and driving electric cars and hiring tradesman to change a lightbulb. A society that apparently could not see the difference between the correct anchor bolt for a concrete wall and a smack in the face.

After his wife dies and he is forced into early retirement, Ove feels like he has nothing left to live for… except that every time he tries to kill himself, his pesky neighbors get in the way. Ove feels compelled to help his neighbors through their ill-timed crises since they can’t be counted on to do things correctly. As time passes, they find an unexpected place in Ove’s life and reveal that there is more to Ove than his cranky exterior.


Although it seems like an unappealing premise (“a grumpy old Swedish man who wants to kill himself”), A Man Called Ove is surprisingly heartwarming, funny, and charming.

Throughout the book, I was constantly quoting amusing passages to my family members who had read the book. Things like:

It was five to six in the morning when Ove and the cat met for the first time. The cat instantly disliked Ove exceedingly. The feeling was very much reciprocated.

I had such a fun time reading this book and it’s one of my favorites so far this year. Like my mom, I’ll keep my review simple and say YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!

You might like this book if you like…

  • Quirky Scandinavian literature
  • Begrudgingly helping out incompetent neighbors
  • The movie Up
  • Saabs (and just can’t reason with people who buy BMWs)
  • Knowing which anchor bolt to use for a concrete wall
  • Referring to cats as “Cat Annoyances”