When I first learned that Fredrik Backman was about to make a literary comeback in 2020, I shrugged it off, the same way I shrugged A Man Called Ove off. I stayed oblivious even though reading A Man Called Ove changed my perspective on Fredrik Backman and his works. Gladly, I managed to overcome those apprehensions for both books made deep impressions on me. I adored A Man Called Ove and Anxious People consolidated that newfound respect I had for Backman and his works. What also makes his works standout is its well of quotable lines. The humor and wit of these novels belie the weight of the messages they subtly underscored. Anxious People, which explored mental health, anxiety, and the connections we make with the world, is brimming with memorable lines. Here are some of the interesting quotes from this amazing book.

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


“Because the terrible thing about becoming an adult is being forced to realize that absolutely nobody cares about us, we have to deal with everything ourselves now, find out how the whole world works. Work and pay bills, use dental floss and get to meetings on time, stand in line and fill out forms, come to grips with cables and put furniture together, change tires on the car and charge the phone and switch the coffee machine off and not forget to sign the kids up for swimming lessons. We open our eyes in the morning and life is just waiting to tip a fresh avalanche of “Don’t Forget!”s and “Remember!”s over us. We don’t have time to think or breathe, we just wake up and start digging through the heap, because there will be another one dumped on us tomorrow. We look around occasionally, at our place of work or at parents’ meetings or out in the street, and realize with horror that everyone else seems to know exactly what they’re doing. We’re the only ones who have to pretend. Everyone else can afford stuff and has a handle on other stuff and enough energy to deal with even more stuff. And everyone else’s children can swim.”

~ Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

“This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots. So it needs saying from the outset that it’s always very easy to declare that other people are idiots, but only if you forget how idiotically difficult being human is. Especially if you have other people you’re trying to be a reasonably good human for.”

~ Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

“Because everyone loves someone, and everyone who loves someone has had those desperate nights where we lie awake trying to figure out how we can afford to carry on being human beings Sometimes that makes us do things that seem ridiculous in hindsight, but which felt like the only way out at the time.”

~ Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

“Because you’ve been probably been depressed yourself, you’ve had days when you’ve been in terrible pain in places that don’t show up in X-rays, when you can’t find the words to explain even to the people who love you. Deep down, in memories that we might prefer to suppress even from ourselves, a lot of us know that the difference between us and that man on the bridge is smaller than we might wish.”

~ Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

“Do you know that the worst thing about being a parent is? That you’re always judged by your worst moments. You can do a million things right, but if you do one single thing wrong you’re forever that parent who was checking his phone in the park when your child was hit in the head by a swing. We don’t take our eyes off them for days at a time, but when you read one text message and it’s as if all your best moments never happened. No one goes to see a psychologist to talk about all the times they weren’t hit in the head by a swing as a child. Parents are defined by their mistakes.”

~ Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

“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 all have this in common, yet most of us remain strangers, we never know that we do to each other, how your life is affected by mine.”

~ Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

“Expensive restaurants have bigger gaps between the tables. First class on airplanes has no middle seats. Exclusive hotels have separate entrances for guests staying in suits. The most expensive thing you can buy in the most densely populated places on the planet is distance.”

~ Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

“The whole thing is complicated, unlikely story. Perhaps that’s because what we think stories are about isn’t what they’re about at all. This, for instance, might not actually be the true story of a bank robbery, or an apartment viewing, or a hostage drama. Perhaps it isn’t even a story about idiots.

~ Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

“We can’t change the world, and a lot of time we can’t even change people. No more than one bit at a time. So we do what we can to help whenever we get the chance, sweetheart. We save those we can. We do our best. Then we try to find a way to convince ourselves that will just have to… be enough. So we can live with our failures without drowning.”

~ Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

“The truth. There isn’t any. All we’ve managed to find out about the boundaries of the universe is that it hasn’t got any, and all we know about God is that we don’t know anything. So the only thing a mom who was a priest demanded of her family was simple: that we do our best. We plant an apple tree today, even i we know the world is going to be destroyed tomorrow. We save those we can.”

~ Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

“I don’t have the words to describe it, but it was like going on a journey with someone. Where didn’t matter. To outer space. It went on for a long time. I started to fold down the corners of pages when there was a bit I really liked, and he started to write little comments in the margins. Just the odd word. ‘Beautiful.’ ‘True.’ That’s the power of literature, you know, it can act like love letters between people who can only explain their feelings by pointing at other people’s.”

~ Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

“The truth of course is that if people were really as happy as they look on the Internet, they wouldn’t spend so much damn time on the Internet, because no one who’s having a really good day spends half of it taking pictures of themselves. Anyone can nurture a myth about their life if they have enough manure, so if grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, that’s probably because it’s full of shit.”

~ Fredrik Backman, Anxious People

“They say that a person’s personality is the sum of their experiences. But that isn’t true, at least not entirely, because if your past was all that defined us, we’d never be able to put up with ourselves. We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too, all of our tomorrows.”

~ Fredrik Backman, Anxious People