Me, & Anxious People

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Hello, you guys! Don’t be fooled by the title of this post. It isn’t going to be a piece where I talked about my anxieties (OR maybe I will, who knows. Keep Reading). It is the title of the book that I finished reading this week, written by Fredrick Backman. So today, I am going to sorta kinda write a review of this book. No, I don’t think I can review any book as I barely read any book in years.

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So where did the whole reading-a-book idea come from, you ask? Haha, I was talking to my friend a week back, trying to find things to do during this lockdown situation. And he suggested me to read a book. My first obvious reaction was Denial. Not that I don’t like books, I like collecting books and love how they brighten up any dull place. But my inability to retain information from the books has always held me from taking this up as a hobby. I always felt reading was a strain on the mind and required constant mental activity to keep track of multiple things, which my lazy-ass mind won’t prefer obviously. But when my friend put the same point across as an argument to read one, it seemed to me like an opportunity for growth.

To be honest, I get distracted by the slightest of shifts. Hence it feels difficult to continuously read for hours. To add to it, I am also an extremely impatient person, currently trying to control it. So, every time I used to start any book, I used to rush through the pages, trying my best to just get done with it. I am not even hinting at the rush you feel when you are excited about the conclusion and so you want to get to the end quickly. This was more like – get this done, quick quick, can’t keep stressing my mind anxiety.

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Well, I realised I was doing it wrong the whole time. Yes. This time instead of rushing in, I gave myself more time. I woke up 30 minutes early every morning and committed to reading 25-30 pages. And that’s it. After that, I used to close my iPad and get ready for the day.

In the past, I would have finished a 400-page book in a couple of days feeling all agitated. Now, I gave myself a whole week to stretch out the reading sessions. I finally ended it on Friday, feeling so much more empowered as if I have gained a new skill. I was never a book-worm, but now I understand what drives people to be one. I’d like to keep this schedule and keep reading more books.

The next book I read is titled – The billionaire’s apprentice. Non-fiction and a serious 500-page book, with small font. I may reduce the number of pages I read every day to 15 to retain more. Non-fiction is exciting to read. There is a lot more to remember and map while reading non-fiction, so it’s going to slightly more difficult, but let’s see. I hope to keep up with this, and by the end of quarantine, I want to read at least 5-6 books.

Ok Fine. That was all about me so far. It will be good if I start talking about the book, else the readers might feel cheated.


About the book | Anxious People

I will try to organize my thoughts in points below and talks about the ones that stood out for me. Also, I’ll quote some lines from the book.

And that’s the weirdest thing about being someone’s parent: that you are loved in spite of everything you are. Even astonishingly late in life, people seem incapable of considering that their parents might not be super-smart and really funny and immortal.

Excerpt From: Fredrik Backman. “Anxious People”.

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Relatable Characters – I always have a hard time remembering the characters in a movie or a book. Also, I am bad with names. But, it’s a solid idea when the writer decides to attach certain attributes to each of his characters, like a red jacket, or a harsh voice. Every time it is mentioned, you instantly map it to that person and it increases the recall value. Adding to that point, even though it’s fictional, the people mentioned in the book are so damn relatable.

Woman Empowerment – This book broke the stereotypes in so many ways. There were moments when I was surprised to spot my own bias. Strong female characters, this book celebrates their courage. Instead of putting annoying, hot-headed female characters, he represented women who not only have a strong opinion but would be ready to make sacrifices for loved ones. The underlying tone was more like “Women can do anything they want.”

Almost two-thirds of the roles were female. All of them were different. Some characters were dependent on their husbands, some divorced, or unmarried, or widowed. So, you get to read about each one’s perspective.

The stupidest thing people who have everything think about people who have nothing is that it’s pride that stops a person from asking for help. That’s very rarely the case.

Excerpt From: Fredrik Backman. “Anxious People”.

Representation – The writer went broad with his characters. He writes about how Millennials think about the old generation, their relationship with parents, and struggles with their emotions and anxieties.

Based in a small town near Stockholm in Europe, it makes subtle remarks on the city people and their life choices. He refers to them as Stockholmers. It’s a universal term. For people living in SF, NYorkers can be referred to as Stockholmers. A general term for anyone who you don’t like because they are different from you.

Ever heard of the Stockholm Syndrome? It originated in Sweden. In 1973 a group of Swedes held hostage in a vault during a bank robbery for six days grew attached to their captors. This book is loosely based on the same plot, but the writer never mentions the word.

Because we’re doing the best we can, we really are. We’re trying to be grown-up and love each other and understand how the hell you’re supposed to insert USB leads.

Excerpt From: Fredrik Backman. “Anxious People”.

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Uplifting – If you have never been in Love, this book might help you to understand how that feels. It touches on all kinds of love. Humans can be insanely stupid, vulnerable, and judgemental when it comes to someone else’s problems. In the end, the writer unites all his characters representing the strength of the only conscious species on this planet.

Pro-tip for writers – I watched Fredrick’s book launch interview after completing it. I want to point his answer when asked about his process of deciding on characters. He said that he always starts with emotions. “What do you want your reader to feel at the end?” Once you know that, you start building your characters around it. Something that every writer/blogger should consider.

The book, Anxious People, is rated 4.7/5 on Barnes & Noble. Give it a try if you are free and want to read something enjoyable and heartwarming 🙂

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