A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

cover image of hardcoverWhen A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman showed up on a bunch of book bloggers’ favorites of 2014, I had happened to have brought it home on the recommendation of a library borrower who had brought it back and said how much she liked it, although it wasn’t her usual kind of book.

I read the whole book hearing “Ove” as rhyming with “love”, because that’s what the reader who recommended it so highly told me, but apparently this Nordic name is pronounced “Oo-veh.” That’s the only thing she misled me about, though, because this novel charmed me, just as it did her.  Author Fredrik Backman, a blogger and humor columnist in his early thirties, has written a story of a grieving widower named Ove forced into early retirement – at a loss for what he’s supposed to do with his days now that his wife is gone. An international bestseller translated from the Swedish written with dry humor, A Man Called Ove made me laugh and cry and see the good in Ove, despite his uncanny ability to irritate people.

At loose ends, angry at the incompetence of his neighbors, and nothing to do except patrol the block to see who’s ignoring the parking restrictions or breaking the rule of no driving in the residential district, Ove – the most un-self-reflective person in his small town and probably in all of Sweden – is angry at the world. Especially at the people who go on blithely living in it. Who were always extremely annoying at the best of times. Without the love and stabilizing presence of his wife Sonja, Ove has had enough of life.

According to this Chatelaine Magazine article, Ove originally appeared as a popular character on the author’s blog. Ove reminded me an older, grieving, curmudgeonly, working-class version of Don Tillman from The Rosie Project, whose Asperger’s syndrome may have been undiagnosed but was perfectly clear to his friends and colleagues.

The author’s literary agency describes A Man Called Ove – the author’s first novel – as “a feel-good story in the spirit of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson, and the film As Good As It Gets with Jack Nicholson.” Simon & Schuster describe it as “a feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. It would make a great book club selection, but isn’t out in large print or audio CD yet for libraries to purchase.

A Man Called Ove
Fredrik Backman
July 2014
352 pp.
$25.00, US

Disclosure: Borrowed from the public library

Other opinions on A Man Called Ove (all excellent):
BermudaOnion’s Weblog
Bibliophile by the Sea
Book’d Out

Booking Mama

King Arthur Flour’s Gluten-Free Version of Recipe of the Year — Chocolate Chip Cookies #weekendcooking

Weekend Cooking buttonIf you subscribe to the King Arthur Flour (KAF) baking newsletter, you know that the 2015 Recipe of the Year was for Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. They looked great, but I didn’t get too excited until a day or two later, along came the recipe for KAF’s gluten-free version of Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.

Neither recipe looks all that different from the one you find on the bags of chocolate chips, I thought, but for G/F bakers, that’s a nice change from complicated flour blends and unusual ingredients, so I thought it would be a fun and easy Weekend Cooking post topicture of KAF flour box make the recipe exactly as is, report on the results, and post a photo.

In typical fashion, however, the box of KAF multi-purpose flour I was picturing in the cupboard had been used up over the holidays, so I had to substitute Bob’s Red Mill G/F All-Purpose Baking Flour.

I also forgot to bring the egg to room temperature before starting.

I had all the other ingredients, though, and baked up a batch of cookies that came out fine, except for spreading a little more than expected – which at least one of the zillion commenters on the recipe mentioned also. They were good, but not great. I brought them to an event and they all went.

(Parchment paper! Where has it been all my life? It’s great stuff! I had plenty of it on hand, because it’s used a lot in gluten-free baking.)

I’m going to order a box of the flour the recipe calls for, and try it again. I think the KAF flour might make a big difference. Watch this space for another (hopefully, better executed) experiment!

Tips for Baking Chocolate Chip Cookies, G/F or Regular

  • Never ever use “artificially flavored” chocolate chips
  • Always use real butter if you can (use half shortening, half butter to reduce spreading, but that will reduce buttery flavor)
  • Don’t taste cookie dough before adding all the ingredients (messes up proportions)
  • Use KAF’s Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract or another good vanilla extract
  • Substitute a small amount of KAF’s Princess Cake & Cookie Flavor for part of the vanilla, if you don’t mind mystery ingredients in your food
  • If you add nuts, toast them in the oven first

This post is linked up to Beth Fish Reads weekly Weekend Cooking feature. Check out more foodie posts here.

My Guest Post at Book Bloggers Int’l on The Future of Libraries! @bookbloggersint

Banner of Book Bloggers InternationalI was invited to do a guest post for the week’s theme, The Future of Books, at Book Bloggers International but by the time the date rolled around for it to go up (last Wednesday), I had forgotten all about it!

My scintillating post is titled The Future of Libraries and has so far been met with a resounding silence, but here’s the link in case you want to visit…

Book Bloggers International: The Future of Libraries

Suggestions from a Massachusetts Librarian


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