If you’ve stuck around my socials for a bit of time now, this post may not come as a surprise anymore since it’s no secret that I absolutely loved Fredrik Backman‘s Anxious People so much. My reading experience for this book, admittedly, has been a very personal one. This reading diary might not make sense to other people – but for me, reading Anxious People has been a very transformative and emotional affair. It has helped me significantly in my journey to being more patient with myself. As usual, this reading diary post is spoiler-filled, so if you haven’t read this before (but honestly, why though?) I advise you to skip this and read my spoiler-free review of Anxious People instead.
Sometimes it hurts, it really hurts, for no other reason than the fact that our skin doesn’t feel like it’s ours. Sometimes we panic, because the bills need paying and we have to be grown-up and we don’t know how, because it’s so horribly, desperately easy to fail at being grown-up.
1. This! This was actually the very quote that made me fall in love with this book even in the early pages. Because you just can’t help feeling that – Yes, this book gets it. It is just so incredibly hard being and trying to be a grown-up and it’s not talked about enough. It’s a very isolating feeling.
He whispered in their ears that he loved them, and his heart broke when he saw them roll their eyes and sigh.
2. The thing that really broke me here was that they have no idea that that was the last time they will ever talk to their dad and those words were the last thing they will ever hear from him. How it holds so much weight yet they were oblivious to it. 💔 You never really know.
We never really know what we do to each other, with each other, to each other.
3. I still do think that this quote summarizes one of the dominant essences of this book, and it’s that: we can’t discount the effect of each person on others. We didn’t really know how we affect people and even how much. Likewise, we can’t expect or outright measure how other people affect us. I swear this is really one of the books that increased my compassion tenfold.
In the end you get exhausted from always tensing the skin around your ribs, never letting your shoulders sink, brushing along walls all your life with white knuckles, always afraid that someone will notice you, because no one’s supposed to do that.
4. That suffocating feeling of always trying to keep up. Always at a ready, anticipating everything. How your muscles are always taut from expecting so you’re not taken by surprise. It’s exhausting. And I hate (and love it at the same time) that his book captures this feeling so accurately.
“We can’t change the world, and a lot of the time we can’t even change people. No more than one bit at the 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 that will just have to be enough. So we can live with our failures without drowning.”
5. A reminder to myself to always exercise compassion.
… if you do it for long enough, it can be impossible to tell the difference between flying and falling.
“You don’t have to like all children, just one. And children don’t need the world’s best parents, just their own parents. […] You are going to be fine. You don’t have to love being a mother, not all the time.”
6. I was always insecure about my attitude towards children and parenthood and these passages made me feel less weird. I just love how this book is always able to verbalize my worries and anxieties in life. 💛
“That’s the power of literature, you know. It can act like little love letters between people who can only explain their feelings by pointing at other people’s. […] It’s such an odd thing, the way you can know someone so perfectly through what they read.“
The hardest thing about death is the grammar, the tense, the fact that she won’t be angry when she sees that he’s bought a new sofa without consulting her first. She won’t be anything. She isn’t on her way home. She was. […] That’s the kind of thing you miss. That she used to do this. That she used to do that. She was. She is.
7. I’ve talked about it a lot in the past but – finally – someone said it.
“It wasn’t your fault”.
8. This letter – THIS. I still cry every time I read this. The way it was revealed in the book. That long wait and the wondering all these years. Shoot, I’m gonna cry again. 😭
We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we’re all of our next choices, too, all of our tomorrow…
You saved yourself. He just happened to be there.
9. I can’t begin to say how much these words meant to me back when I read this for the first time – and even now when I read it again. I can’t believe I even need to be told that.
Isn’t it funny how some books just sort of find you in the most perfect of times? Anxious People is one such book for me. I can’t begin to describe how much this book meant to me and how much this book affected me when I first read it. And it still does something to my heart even now. I’ve reviewed this book in a very personal manner but aren’t those the kind of books that stick? This book felt like it held my life in its pages. It almost felt like it has all the things I need to hear while also reflecting my feelings back at me. I love it so much. 🤍