Book Clubbin’: 8 Discussion Questions for ‘Anxious People’ by Fredrik Backman

Welcome to our monthly blog feature, Book Clubbin’! With school and work routines slowly kicking back into action, many people are trying to find ways to keep entertained. Whether you’re back to your daily commute or simply walking to and from your WFH set up, it’s a great time to reach out to your book-loving pals and invite them to join a virtual or socially distanced book club!

Audiobooks are the perfect option for people who want to enjoy books on the go. By setting up a book club, you’ll be able to share your love for audiobooks with old and new friends alike. If you’re interested in starting a book club but don’t know where to start, check out this list of the best audiobooks for your book club!

This month’s Book Clubbin’ pick is Fredrik Backman‘s Anxious People, narrated by Marin Ireland. As a bestselling author, Backman has become known for writing stories that deliver meaningful messages with perfectly interjected comedic relief. Following suit with his previous works, Anxious People is a poignant comedy that slowly reveals the hardships of the modern world. Viewing an apartment normally doesn’t turn into a life-or-death situation, but this particular open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes everyone in the apartment hostage. As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers begin slowly opening up to one another and reveal long-hidden truths.

Filled with Fredrik Backman’s impeccable character development and undeniable wit, Anxious People’s whimsical plot serves up unforgettable insights into the human condition and a gentle reminder to be compassionate to all the anxious people we encounter every day.

If you’re ready to start discussing Anxious People with your book club, get started with the questions below. Beware— SPOILERS ahead.


1) Do you feel as though each character was already anxious when walking into the open house? What were they anxious about?

2) This story explores the many relationships of its characters, both in and outside of the open house. How do some of these relationships contribute to, or help to ease, the anxiety felt within the hostage situation?

3) Fredrik Backman‘s stories are known to be driven by their character development. Which character in this book did you most identify with? Did your opinion of them change throughout the story? Discuss the different themes and additions this character brought into the novel.

4) Multiple characters have memories that connect back to the bridge. What symbolic meaning does the bridge hold? Do you think the meaning of the bridge changed for the characters by the end of the book?

5) Though Anxious People can be considered a comedy, the novel touches on some difficult parts of the human experience and the issues we often face. Discuss the societal issues that resonated with you, and how the characters managed those situations.

6) Each character has a unique approach to vulnerability and how they open up about their personal anxieties. Who do you think was the most reserved character? The most open? Why do you think these people had different approaches?

7) Near the beginning of the story, Backman wrote “This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots.” How do you define idiocy, and how do characters in this book fit with or go against your definition?

8) If Anxious People were to be made into a television series or film, who would you picture playing some of the characters? Is there anything you’d change about the book to fit better within a video form?

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STAFF PICK: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Title: Beartown
Author: Fredrik Backman
Narrator: Marin Ireland

Nestled deep within a lush Swedish forest lies a small town experiencing what feels like an inevitable death. The factory workers who founded the town once had big dreams of Beartown becoming a hockey haven, and with it, an abundance of jobs and a booming economy. But the costs that accompany those dreams are higher than anyone could have anticipated.

The junior ice hockey team is gearing up for the national semi-finals — and they actually have a shot at winning. In one fell swoop, the future of a dying town lies on the shoulders of teenage boys, and in the same breath, threatens to unravel the secrets, violence, and callousness of those we thought we knew, and who we wanted them to be.

Within the first few chapters, Fredrik Backman joined the ranks of being one of my favorite authors. So rarely do I find a book as beautiful as it is devastating, so powerful that I never want it to end, yet so damn satisfied when it does.

Backman’s ability to bring to light the small details about each character, even those in the shadows, allowed me to resonate with the entire town — those who went against the grain, those who created the trauma that ripples throughout, those whose shoes I never hope to be in. In Beartown, no one is unaffected. Everyone’s vulnerability is uncovered, and no small character truly exists in this story.

“small towns need a head start if they’re going to have any chance in the world… people are standing in silent lines with their eyes half opened and their minds half closed, waiting for their electronic punch cards to verify their existence… if they keep quiet, they can hear it in the distance: bang. bang. bang. bang. bang.”

Marin Ireland does a fabulous job of narrating the story in an appropriately moody tone. Her ability to bring out the emotions of the characters transported me into their town, their lives, their dreams, and their demons.













Read more and sample the audio.

New to Get a free audiobook when you sign up for our one month free trial. Digital audiobooks make audible stories come to life when you’re commuting, working out, cleaning, cooking and more! Listening is easy with our top-rated free audiobook apps for iOS and Android, which let you download & listen to bestselling audiobooks on the go, wherever you are. Click here to get your free audiobook!