The All Good Books Group will meet this evening, Thursday, March 18, 2021, at 7:00 PM on Zoom using our usual weblink. We’ll discuss Fredrik Backman’s novel “Anxious People.” We hope you can join us to discuss some of these questions.

  1. The book starts with the narrator talking about “idiots.” Though it’s easy to declare someone an idiot, it’s also true how difficult being a human is. What’s the narrator saying about human nature? When you read the word ‘idiot’ what comes to mind? Do you routinely encounter “idiots?”
  2. At the onset of the story, it’s about a bank robber and a hostage drama. Why does the “bank robber” decide to rob a bank? How experienced is the bank robber? What does the bank robber’s choices say about desperation and how it can limit our vision?
  3. The story is told in a nonlinear fashion with the hostage storyline, multiple events on a bridge and numerous background stories. How are these storylines connected?
  4. How does the story involve Jim and Jack? Who are they? Are they main characters or peripheral to the storyline? How is Nadia involved?
  5. How does the bridge storyline impact Jack’s life and career choices? Nadia’s life choices and career?
  6. We learn about Jim and Jack’s family through the non-linear nature of the novel. How does their family history factor into decisions they make about the bank robber?
  7. How would you react if you were a hostage?
  8. How did the people held hostage react? What do we learn about each character during the hostage situation? What did you learn about grief, fear and loneliness, the inability of couples to communicate and why people react to those forces?
  9. While searching for an apartment are the characters really searching for something else?
  10. How did your perception of the characters change as you read more of the novel? Which character “spoke to you the most?” Why?
  11. At the conclusion of the story, the narrator states, “The truth is that this was a story about many different things, but most of all about idiots. Because we’re doing the best we can, we really are. We’re trying to be grown-up and love each other…. We’re looking for something to cling on to, something to fight for, something to look forward to. We’re doing all we can to teach our children how to swim. We have all of this in common, yet most of us remain strangers, we never know what we do to each other, how your life is affected by mine.” What does that observation mean to you and do you agree?
  12. Would you recommend the novel to your reader friends? How would you classify it? How would you describe it to potential readers?

Thank you to Heather Caliendo whose discussion questions (bookclubchat.com/books/book-club-questions-for-anxious-people-by-fredrik-backman/) inspired many of these questions.