There is a wealth of topics to discuss in these book club questions from Frederik Backman’s Anxious People.
From the trivial to the profound, this book focuses in on the different turning points of life and how all it takes is one really bad idea for things to start spinning out of control.
As Backman points out, that control is all an illusion anyways (though he says it in much prettier prose).
The novel takes place in Sweden (but definitely not in Stockholm, which I promise will make sense if you read the book). While the story jumps around and at times feels very random, it’s all part of the plan to pull you closer and closer to the central characters.
Anxious People is an impressive display of character development that is fun to read and doesn’t hit you over the head with its preachiness.
Or if it does, you can easily imagine it being with one of those foam toy bats. So, you let it slide.
“Because there’s such an unbelievable amount that we’re all supposed to be able to cope with these days. You’re supposed to have a job, and somewhere to live, and a family, and you’re supposed to pay taxes and have clean underwear and remember the password to your damn Wi-Fi.”– Frederik Backman, Anxious People
It’s also a study on how you can empathize with almost anyone once you start to understand who they really are. It’s a perfect example of that famous quote from Brad Metzler that says “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
Well said, Brad.
I didn’t know this going in, but apparently, there is also an Anxious People Netflix series?! Added to que, thank you.
In the meantime, if your reading group is looking for a book you can easily spend hours philosophizing over (while still having a lot of fun reading in the first place), look no further.
These Anxious People book club questions will help you dive deeper into your own (and your fellow readers’) views on life, love, and what you would do if you too were painted into a corner.
Anxious People Book Club Questions
1. The book starts with the passage, “A bank robbery. A hostage drama. A stairwell full of police officers on their way to storm an apartment. It was easy to get to this point, much easier than you might think.”
How do you feel this passage sets up the rest of the book? What kind of expectations did it lead to? Were they accurate in the end?
2. The book mentions several times what the story could be about, but how it’s “mostly about idiots.” Backman tempers that statement by saying its also idiotically difficult to be a human, especially these days.
Do you agree that in many aspects, life is many ways harder these days than “before”? In what ways?
3. One theme of the book is the fragility of our sense of control is, and how much of the time we are going about pretending that “our jobs and our children and everything else” are fine.
Who in the book do you think was pretending the most up to the point of the hostage drama? Who was the authentic? Why?
4. The bridge plays a large role in the book and is the main way the story ties the characters together. How did that bridge change the course of the different characters’ lives?
Why do you think Backman kept mentioning you could see it from the apartment?
5. Our two police officers are father and son. How does that change the way the investigation plays out?
6. As the story unfolds, did you feel more empathy for the father’s behavior or the son’s? Why?
7. One device used to feel the drama of the situation is for the book to in and out of witness transcripts. How effective was that? How did it change the pacing of the book?
8. Does your opinion about the bank robber change when you realize they were only trying to pay rent so they wouldn’t lose their children? How about when you found out they were a woman?
If so, why do you think that is?
9. Through her therapy sessions and the narrative, we get a good look at Zara’s life and how she feels about her position now working for a bank.
What stood out to you the most about her by the end of the book? What do you imagine happening for her going forward after the book ends?
10. Ro and Julia are both terrified of being parents for different reasons and see their partner as the stronger role model. How does the bank robbery help them face their fears?
11. Frederik Backman’s writing style is very all over the place and at times seems almost random. Did you enjoy this style? Why or why not? How did it influence the way the story unfolded?
12. What moment in the book really stood out to you as the most memorable?
13. How did you feel about the resolution of Anxious People and where all the characters ended up? Is there any part of the ending you would change?
Looking for More Book Club Questions?
14. What ultimately surprised you most about the book?
15. Frederik Backman’s other novels have been highly celebrated. Did Anxious People make you interested in reading any of his other books? Why?
Find Your Next Book Club Pick
Don’t have a book club yet? Why not start your own! Check out my article on How to Form a Book Club for tips on creating the ideal book club for your lifestyle.
Did you read Anxious People for your book club? How did you like it? Leave me a comment below about how the questions and book worked for you!