A Man Called Ove is my first novel by Fredrik Backman. It is quite a very popular title and I keep encountering it in several book blogs. However, its popularity was also one of the reasons why I steered clear of it. I then changed my mind and it was a blast! It was one of my favorite books of 2020 and was instrumental in changing my perspective of Backman and his works. Apart from being an engaging narrative, A Man Called Ove is also a well of memorable and magical quotes. Here are some of these memorable lines from this equally memorable literary masterpiece.

Do check out my complete review of this tantalizing work of fiction by clicking here.


Death is a strange thing. People live their whole lives as if it does not exist, and yet it’s often one of the great motivations for living. Some of us, in time, become so conscious of it that we live harder, more obstinately, with more fury. Some need its constant presence to even be aware of its antithesis. Others become so preoccupied with it that they go into the waiting room long before it has announced its arrival. We fear it, yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.”

~ Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

“He’d discovered that he liked houses. Maybe mostly because they were understandable. They could be calculated and drawn on paper. They did not leak if they were made watertight, they did not collapse if they were properly supported. Houses were fair, they gave you what you deserved. Which, unfortunately, was more than one could say about people.”

~ Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

“He can’t understand people who long to retire. How can anyone spend their whole life longing for the day when they become superfluous? Wandering about, a burden on society, what sort of man would ever wish for that? Staying at home, waiting to die. Or even worse: waiting for them to come and fetch you and put you in a home. Being dependent on other people to get to the toilet. Ove can’t think of anything worse. His wife often teases him, says he’s the only man she knows who’d rather be laid out in a coffin than travel in a mobility service van.”

~ Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

“He sits there for what must be an hour, just staring at that photo. Of all the imaginable things he most misses about her, the thing he really wishes he could do again is hold her hand in his. She had a way of holding her index finger into his palm, hiding it inside. And he always felt that nothing in the world was impossible when she did that. Of all the things he could miss, that’s what he misses most.”

~ Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

“He knew very well that some people thought he was nothing but a grumpy old soul without any faith in people. But to put it bluntly, that was because people had never given him reason to see it another way. Because a time comes in every man’s life when he decides what sort of man he’s going to be: the kind who lets other people walk over him, or not.”

~ Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

“She believed in destiny. That all the roads you walk in life, in one way or another, “lead to what has been predetermined for you.” Ove, of course, just started muttering under his breath and got very busy fiddling about with a screw or something whenever she started going on like this. But he never disagreed with her. Maybe to her destiny was “something”; that was none of his business. But to him, destiny was “someone”.”

~ Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

Nowadays people stood outside their newly refurbished houses and boasted as if they’d built them with their own bare hands, even they they hadn’t so much as lifted a screwdriver. And they weren’t even trying to pretend that it was any other way. They boasted about it. Apparently there was no longer any value in being able to lay your own floorboards or refurbish a room with rising damp or change the winter tyres. And if you couldn’t just go and buy everything, what was the value of it? What was the value of a man?”

~ Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

“Her friends couldn’t see why she woke up every morning and voluntarily decided to share the whole day with him. He couldn’t either. He built her a bookshelf and she filled it with books by people who wrote page after page about their feelings. Ove understood things he could see and touch. Wood and concrete. Glass and steel. Tools. Things one could figure out. He understood right angles and clear instruction manuals. Assembly models and drawings. Things one could draw on paper.”

~ Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

“To love someone is like moving into a house. At first you fall in love in everything new, you wonder every morning that this is one’s own, as if they are afraid that someone will suddenly come tumbling through the door and say that there has been a serious mistake and that it simply was not meant to would live so fine. But as the years go by, the façade worn, the wood cracks here and there, and you start to love this house not so much for all the ways it is perfect in that for all the ways it is not. You become familiar with all its nooks and crannies. How to avoid that the key gets stuck in the lock if it is cold outside. Which floorboards have some give when you step on them, and exactly how to open the doors for them not to creak. That’s it, all the little secrets that make it your home.”

~ Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

“And time is a curious thing. Most of us only live for the time that lies right ahead of us. A few days, weeks, years. One of the most painful moments in a person’s life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead. And when time no longer lies ahead of one, other things have to be live for. Memories, perhaps.”

~ Fredrikk Backman, A Man Called Ove