Have you read A Man Called Ove yet? The book hasn't just won a lot of nominations and awards in Sweden - it's also winning the hearts of readers around the globe. And in one corner of the American midwest, an entire city is celebrating Ove in ways the fictional character (who is oh so real) would never have dreamed.
Every year the leadership of the Wauwatosa Neighborhood Association works hard in their role of keeping neighbors connected, informed and safe. They contribute greatly to the quality of life in Wauwatosa, the southeast Wisconsin suburb of Milwaukee, affectionately nicknamed “Tosa.” Not the least of the activities they plan is an all-city book club.
As suggestions for the annual book discussion were submitted for Tosa’s All-City Read for 2017, A Man Called Ove kept coming up as one that fit all the requirements: It’s available in soft cover (to make it more affordable); it’s of interest to a broad audience; it contains many themes for discussion; and it has the potential for event tie-ins. ADVERTISEMENT
Tosa’s All-City Read chair person, Maureen Connors Badding, knew A Man Called Ove was a special, heartwarming book that would be a perfect match. "I loved the theme of how one life can touch so many others and how taking a chance and reaching out can enrich one’s own life.” Luckily, the other committee members agreed, and together they’ve built an entire month of events that cleverly enrich the book and experience of discovering Ove — and the Sweden he lives in.
You don’t have to be Swedish to appreciate this award winning story by Fredrik Backman — or the many activities planned for the month of February. In fact, you may want to take a page from Wauwatosa’s book and plan similar things for your own discussion of A Man Called Ove — aside from the weekly book discussions at various locations, here are some related event highlights:
Feb. 6: An Evening of Swedish and Persian Cuisine. Chef Michael Feker, who is Persian by birth but studied under a Swedish chef, owns a restaurant and has appeared on Food Network cooking shows. He will prepare dishes that Ove and his wife Sonja might have eaten, or that Ove’s Persian neighbor Parvaneh might prepare.
Feb. 7: An Afternoon of Swedish Culture. Members of the Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin talk about Swedish immigration and the Göta Canal. (They will also make Swedish pancakes for everyone.)
Feb. 10: Disco Dancing with ABBA! There is really no connection between Ove and ABBA, but last year’s dance class requested more dancing, and since a major export of Sweden is its music ...
Feb. 15: Embracing Cultural Diversity: A Community Discussion. Ove isn’t the only one who could use a nudge to be more accepting and inclusive. This workshop is intended to be a productive workshop that will make an impact on any community.
Feb. 16: Paint Your Own Dala Horse. A local woodworking club will cut out the Dala horse shapes, then Ove readers will paint them at a local wine and painting studio.
Feb. 18-20: A Man Called Ove. The Oscar nominated movie comes to Wauwatosa for the first time.
Feb. 19: The Amazing Tosa Race Road Rally. As a tribute to Ove’s love of cars, this road rally uses clues from the book to send contestants to locations all over the city, ending at a local brewpub. Teams compete for prizes, and points will be given for decorating the car, wearing costumes and driving a Saab (points deleted for driving a BMW).
Feb. 23: Princess & Prince Tea Party: Sweden’s own Princess Estelle will turn 5 on Feb. 23, so it’s fitting to have a party in her honor during our month of events. Kids can make their own crowns and wands, and color Swedish scenes as well as Princess Estelle’s coat of arms. Small sandwiches and petits fours will be served — with (hopefully) princesstarta!
Every Saturday in February: Lördagsgodis. Three local candy shops will be participating in this, giving 10% discount to anyone who mentions Lördagsgodis (you don't have to pronounce it properly, but if you want to, try: "lur-dogs-goo-dees") or Tosa’s All-City Read when buying candy on a Saturday.
Every Thursday in February: Pea Soup and Pancakes. Two (maybe more) local restaurants are ready to serve Swedish pea soup and pancakes — on Thursdays, of course.
Every day throughout February: Collection for Stray Animals. Ove’s kindness to the stray cat is the inspiration for this drive, which will benefit the animals at the Wisconsin Humane Society. Food, litter, toys, blankets, etc. donations can be dropped off at a local site.
Preorder with three days notice: Cardamom buns. A local bakery will have this Swedish staple available by the dozen all month.
More information about food you might want to serve at A Man Called Ove book club meeting, February event times, locations and registration can be found at www.tosasallcityread.com
(The city of Wauwatosa is part of the Milwaukee metropolitan area, just west of Milwaukee)