The Fredrik Backman books in order are heart-wrenching with their honest depiction of life and struggle. Backman uses contemporary settings as the background for his books as the relationships of his characters unfold in meaningful and insightful ways.
About Fredrik Backman
While Fredrik Backman has become a New York Times bestselling author, becoming an author was never his goal. He says that he always wanted to be a storyteller, not an author. He wants readers to feel as if they are having a one-on-one conversation and he is telling them the best story possible.
Even though it wasn’t his goal, Backman has been able to manage both: Telling the best story possible and becoming a bestselling author. A Man Called Ove spent 90 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and has had two successful film adaptations, one in Swedish and one in English.
Backman says that he tells his stories like a fable or a fairytale, which helps give them that intimate feeling.
Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Backman has found international acclaim for his writing. Collectively, his books have sold 20 million copies around the world in 46 languages.
Fredrik Backman Books in Order
Our list of the Fredrik Backman books in order begins with his standalones. This list also begins with his debut, which makes it a great place to begin reading his bibliography. The publication years below are the original publication year of each novel, not the year the book was translated into English.
While each of the below books follows different characters, if you read them in order of publication, you will see the common reoccurrence of certain themes in Backman’s writing.
- A Man Called Ove (2012)
- My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry (2013)
- Britt-Marie Was Here (2014)
- Anxious People (2019)
Next Backman has written one series, which is the Beartown trilogy. These three books follow the events of a small Swedish town over the course of a handful of years. The town and the books revolve largely around Beartown’s junior hockey team as Backman dissects hockey culture, rivalry, distrust, and sacrifice.
Backman has also published one nonfiction book, which brings his analysis of human behavior and interaction to a different level through a parental lens. It is an honest look at parenting from the awe Backman feels watching his son experience his firsts, while also revealing his own missteps and fatherly flaws.
Finally, Fredrik Backman has published two novellas that evoke the same sentiments as his longer novels. In both of these stories Backman explores human nature and shows a deep compassion for people in difficult circumstances.
A Summary of Fredrik Backman Books in Order
Below you find the summaries to the eight full-length Fredrik Backman novels in publication order. This will help explain the scope and scale of his books as well as the different forms of relationships that he explores in his writing. The list of summaries below includes his four standalones and the Beartown trilogy.
1. A Man Called Ove
Ove is a grumpy old man with staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. His neighbors think of him as the bitter neighbor from hell, but Ove just doesn’t want to walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time.
That’s because beneath his cranky exterior, there is a deep sadness. But one morning a boisterous young family moves in next door and unceremoniously inserts themselves into his life by accidentally flattening his mailbox. The unexpected friendship that blossoms will change one cranky old man and the local residents’ association to their very foundations.
2. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
Elsa is different from other seven-year-olds and her grandmother, who is 77 years old, is Elsa’s only friend. Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, where everyone is different and nobody needs to be normal.
When Elsa’s grandmother dies, she leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to everyone she has wronged, and Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. She is led into an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones.
But she is also led to the truth about fairy tales, kingdoms, and a grandmother like no other.
3. Britt-Marie Was Here
Britt-Marie cannot stand mess. A disorganized cutlery drawer is high on her list of unforgivable signs. She doesn’t judge others, but people tend to interpret her suggestions as criticisms, even if that isn’t her intention.
But unbeknownst to everyone around her, Britt-Marie is an imaginative woman with big dreams and a warm heart. Then Britt-Marie leaves her cheating husband and moves to the backwater town of Borg, where she must fend for herself as the caretaker of a dilapidated recreation center.
She is quickly drawn into the lives of the fellow residents, who are a mix of miscreants, drunkards, and layabouts. But most alarming of all is that she has the task of leading the children’s soccer team to victory. In this town of misfits, can Britt-Marie find where she truly belongs?
4. Anxious People
While viewing an apartment shouldn’t be a life-or-death situation, an open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes everyone hostage. As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers begin opening up and revealing long-hidden truths.
Zara is a wealthy bank director whose life has been changed by tragedy, which is why she visits open houses to see how ordinary people live and to perhaps set an old wrong to right. Then Roger and Anna-Lena are a retired couple hunting for fixer-uppers as their marriage falls into disrepair.
Julia and Ro are a young lesbian couple and soon-to-be-parents who can’t agree on anything. Finally, Estelle is an 80-year-old woman who is too old to find the bank robber waving a gun in her face impressive. She is also not telling them the truth.
The robber must decide which is more terrifying, going out to face the police or staying with this group of impossible people.
Beartown is a tiny community deep in the forest that is slowly losing ground to the encroaching trees. People say it is finished. But down by the lake there is an old rink built generations ago. That rink is the only reason the town believes that tomorrow will be better than today.
Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals and they have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of Beartown rest on the shoulders of these teenage boys, which is a heavy burden.
The semi-final game is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and travel through Beartown like ripples on a pond, leaving no resident unaffected.
2. Us Against You
After everything the residents of Beartown have been through, they are devastated to learn that their local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, are incredibly satisfied. Amidst the tension between the two teams, a newcomer is chosen to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.
A new team begins to take shape around Amat, the fastest player on the ice; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together is difficult as bonds are broken and formed.
As the big game between Beartown and Hed approaches, pranks and incidents begin to pile up. As the buzzer sounds for the end of the last game, a resident of Beartown will be dead. The people of both towns must wonder if the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent again.
3. The Winners
It’s been two years since the events that no one wants to think about. They’ve tried to move on, but they continue to grapple with life’s big questions about family, community, and sacrifice. As the locals of Beartown struggle to overcome the past, there is great change on the horizon.
Someone is coming home after a long time away. Someone will be laid to rest, someone will fall in love, someone will try to fix their marriage, and someone will do anything to save their children. While someone will submit to hate, someone will fight, and someone will grab a gun and walk towards the ice rink.
What are the residents of Beartown willing to sacrifice for their home?
The Fredrik Backman books in order are predominately contemporary fiction novels that question and analyze humanity. He writes poignant and impactful stories about different forms of relationships. His writing emphasizes the importance of those bonds and how they impact our day-to-day habits, while also giving larger meaning to our lives.