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Is One the Loneliest Number?

March 23, 2023

A few years ago I fell in love with a book called Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. It was about an older woman who spent a lot of time alone and had trouble fitting into the world. It was a beautiful portrait that I identified with a lot. So I’m always on the look out for books about people who are loners, or who don’t fit into society like they are “supposed to.” These are my people and here are some books about them. 

I love Fredrik Backman. I’ve only read one of his books - Anxious People - but I loved it and I loved his writing style. A friend loaned me her copy of this and told me I had to read it. I knew that I would love it right away, but I held onto it - kinda savoring the anticipation. Then recently I saw that Tom Hanks has a new movie based on this (A Man Called Otto), and I figured I better read it before someone spoils it for me. And it was beautiful. Grouchy Ove is alone and he doesn’t understand why the people around him can’t function as rational human beings. Time after time he gets pulled into their lives, against his wishes. I won’t spoil the ending, but I cried a bunch of times during this one. And that was ok. I think I’m going to dive into Backman’s Beartown trilogy next. I’ll let you know what I think about that after I read it.

I stumbled across this one when I was looking for a good audio book for car driving. Harold is retired, but not enjoying it. He’s married, but he and his wife are more like roommates. One day he gets a letter from an old colleague telling him that she is dying. Harold immediately writes her a letter and sets off to the mail box to post it. On his way, he starts thinking about his friend and suddenly mailing a letter is not enough. He lives in southern England and his friend is in the north, but he decides to walk to her because the longer he walks, the longer he thinks she’ll stay alive. It has a little bit of Forrest Gump in this (when he was running and everyone joined in), but overall I really enjoyed it. It was fun to go for my daily walks and listen to Harold on his walk. The audio book was great or you can check out a print version.

I read this one after reading the first two and this is kind of an amalgamation of the two. All Albert has is his cat and his job. When both of these are threatened, he realizes how alone he really is and he sets out to change it. Like Ove, Albert spends a lot of time alone and like Harold, Albert decides to set out on a quest. In this case, it is to rectify a mistake in Albert’s  past and setting up a better future where he isn’t so alone. I thought Albert was inspiring and it kind of made me want to expand my circle of friends. I don’t have big secrets like Albert, but sharing with others is always a good option. I did cry a time or two during this one and had to even walk away at one point because it was so sad, but overall the back half was captivating.

These books aren’t always easy to read, but they will tug at your heartstrings. Just make sure you have some Kleenex close by. 

Happy remembering you are not alone (unless you want to be)…
:) Amanda

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Amanda is a classically-trained pianist who loves to read. Like any good librarian, she also has two cats named after Italian cities. Amanda spends her free time sitting in Nashville traffic, baking, and running the Interlibrary Loan office at the Nashville Public Library.

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