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Last week I read the book A Man Called Ove. I’ve heard of this book floating around for awhile now but I’m not usually big into contemporaries so I didn’t think much of it.
But then, a few weeks ago I read And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by the same author and it moved me to tears so I was ready to give A Man Called Ove a chance.
It turns out it also moved me to tears.
And I learned some lessons on how to be a good neighbor in the process.
If you plan on reading this book in the future and don’t want to know anything about it I would recommend reading the book before reading this post. The majority of the spoilers are in the summary in the next paragraph while the actually lessons I learned don’t share much in the way of spoilers. You’ve officially been warned.
As a very short summary of the book before we get into the lessons so you have a little reference: Ove (pronounced Oo-vah – at least that’s how the narrator pronounced it in the audiobook) is an old curmudgeon who has decided it is time to take his life. Try as he might though, the pesky neighbors keep ruining his attempts to do himself in and they slowly work their way into the heart of this hard old man. There are some flashbacks in the book that give us a little of Ove’s history and we begin to understand why he has become the curmudgeon he is.
FIVE LESSONS ABOUT BEING A GOOD NEIGHBOR I LEARNED FROM THE BOOK A MAN CALLED OVE
Okay, now on to the lessons I learned!
#1 BEING AN INTERESTED NEIGHBOR CAN SAVE A LIFE
Sometimes, as in the case of this book, it can be saving a life literally but I was thinking of it in more of an eternal way. Being interested in the lives of your neighbors can open doors and give opportunities to talk about spiritual things and plant seeds of the Gospel.
#2 EVERY PERSON HAS A STORY
This is one thing I try to remind myself of often. It can be easy to think that others are not interesting or write people of as grumpy or anti-social but there is often a story behind such attitudes and knowing the story can help you to be more understanding and feel more compassionate.
Let’s just pretend that my neighborhood looks like a German town, kay?
#3 MAKING YOURSELF VISIBLE CAN MAKE YOU MORE APPROACHABLE
In the book Ove walked a regular route each morning and his neighbors knew it and him as a result. There were a few times where people knew he would be out walking early so they actually tried to be out at that time so they could catch him while he was walking to chat or ask a question.
In the summer we try to make a point to walk on a regular basis and it has actually started a lot of conversations with neighbors over the years. People seem to feel like because they have seen you walking they know you a little and it helps tear down some of the initial walls.
Since we are nearing the end of the winter it feels like it’s been a long time since we’ve been out walking but hopefully the weather will turn for the better soon and we can resume our walks.
#4 IT’S GOOD TO HAVE A USEFUL SKILL
This is an area where I definitely feel myself lacking. Ove had a lot of practical, handy skills and could help people fix things in their homes. I feel like I have zero practical skills . . . I’m going to try to think of something though.
#5 BE AVAILABLE
Ove was often around to bring people to appointments or borrow items to people because he was home most of the time. I’m home a lot and generally willing to be available to other people but we really don’t live in a society/neighborhood that is very interested in asking for help.
That being said, I did have a neighbor show up at my door one day last winter and ask for a ride somewhere. I had seen her around a little and often said hi but had never talked to her before but that little bit was enough for her to come knock on my door when her car didn’t start.
And there you have it! Five lessons I learned from the book A Man Called Ove! If you are interested in finding out what I am reading each week you may want to subscribe to my book-ish newsletter, each week I share what myself and each of my kids are reading as well as some other fun book-ish things.