Born in South Stockholm in 1981, Fredrik Backman worked as a columnist and blogger before his breakthrough came in 2012, when he self-published A Man Called Ove. A novel about a grumpy, isolated man who finds redemption through unexpected friendships, the book became an international sensation and served as inspiration for two feature film adaptations, the latter starring Tom Hanks.

Now considered one of Sweden’s most successful contemporary writers, Backman’s other bestselling novels include My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, and Anxious People. His books are known for their warmth, humor, self-deprecating style, and insights into isolation and the human condition.

In a 2017 interview with The Week, Backman shared some of the books that most influenced his love for language and literature as a child. From Douglas Adams to Charles Dickens, check out his full reading list below – then dive into the bookshelves of other famous writers here.

Fredrik Backman’s Reading List


The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren

“My mother read this to me when my grandfather died, when I was 6, to find a way to talk to me about death. It was during that reading that I discovered I could actually read for myself. So Lindgren taught me how to read and how not to be afraid of dying, all at the same time. I still read The Brothers Lionheart at least once a year, and it’s still my all-time favorite novel.” -FB

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (also rec’d by Elon Musk & Richard Branson)

“This was one of the first books that made me understand it was okay for literature to be silly and funny and stupid and hilarious. I assume that this life-altering experience at age 10 or 11 still shows in my writing today.” -FB

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (also rec’d by Elon MuskGeorge R.R. MartinJane Goodall, Ken Jennings & Trevor Noah)

“Over a summer when I was about 9, Tolkien consumed me. The adventure, the storytelling, the magical lands and terrifying creatures inhabiting them were all I thought about. When I was done, I started all over again. This was my first experience of absolute binge reading, and maybe my first love.” -FB

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (also rec’d by David Copperfield & Vincent van Gogh)

“I don’t remember the first time I heard it read, but I do remember that the first time I read it for myself I was blown away by how clever the language was, and how playful. I still write with the hope that I will always love words as much as I do every time I read Dickens.” -FB

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (also rec’d by Margot Robbie & Phoebe Bridgers)

“I’ve never really longed to relive my childhood. Except for this: I wish I could be 7 years old again, just to be able to read Harry Potter for the very first time. There are certain things in a story like that one that an adult can never fully understand. We get old; we forget how to be that smart.” -FB

Shogun by James Clavell (also rec’d by Jamie Lee Curtis)

“It’s not life-changing; it’s not the greatest piece of literature ever written; it’s definitely not flawless. But it’s good. Fun. Entertaining. An adventure. Sometimes that’s quite enough.” -FB

Looking for an Amazon alternative? Support local, independent booksellers by shopping Fredrik Backman’s reading list on Bookshop.org:

Categories: Writers