Book Club: We’re reading Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Book Club: We're reading Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Beartown is the story of a small community nestled in the Swedish forest. File photo: Vidar Ruud/NTB scanpix/TT
In February, the Swedish book we've chosen to read is Beartown by Fredrik Backman, a story about a small town's ice hockey team, but also about community, conformity, trust, and right and wrong.

The junior ice hockey team is the pride of Beartown, a small and struggling community in rural northern Sweden.

“The people of Beartown love the fact that the climate is so inhospitable, because not everyone can handle it: that reminds them of their own strength and resilience.”

A lot of hopes are pinned on the prospect of their championship victory, from the players, parents, and villagers who all hope a win would bring them just what they need.

The coach sees a chance to make up for his own failed hockey career, thwarted by injury. Youngest team member Amat sees a chance to belong and be himself. Other players turn to hockey not to fulfil their own dreams, but those of other people, or as an escape for something else. 

Then something happens that threatens the dream, and one of the star players is responsible. Each of the community members must decide what they stand for, and the stakes are suddenly higher than hockey.

Fredrik Backman is one of Sweden's best loved contemporary novelists, and this book is part of a series set in Beartown.

Throughout the month, we'll be discussing Beartown, so here are a few questions to keep in mind:

  • Does Beartown sound like a place you'd like to live? Why/why not? And how do you think this setting shaped the characters?
  • Which of the relationships in the book do you find most interesting, or ring truest to you?
  • What is the role of secrets and trust in the book?
  • How do you feel when reading the book?
  • What do you think about Backman's writing style?

If you'd like to share your thoughts on Beartown, or any ideas on what we should read next or other suggestions for the Book Club, join The Local Sweden's Book Club on Facebook, or send us an email.


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