The Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa (AKA Tosa) could easily be home of the best book club — ever. Every February the entire city comes together to read, discuss and celebrate a great book, and this year it’s all about A Man Called Ove. All month, curious readers have been attending fun cultural events inspired by Swedish author Fredrik Backman’s best-selling novel — with Swedish cooking demonstrations, an ABBA disco dance class, pea soup every Thursday, even a food collection for needy cats and dogs.

Last night I stopped in a local wine and painting studio, where 30 people were each painting a Swedish Dalahäst (Dala horse), the most recognized symbol of Sweden. Most participants didn’t know the meaning of what they were painting, nor did most of them claim any Swedish heritage, but they were so happy to be there, doing something Swedish, and being among others who just loved the book. There is camaraderie in being curious together, digging a little deeper into the lives of the characters they encountered in the novel.

Maureen Badding, book club chairperson extraordinaire, was there (painting her Dalahäst yellow), and she said each event has attracted a different crowd: At the Swedish immigrant presentation, there were a lot of people with Scandinavian heritage; and the event of embracing diversity brought many young, civic minded people — including more than a dozen college students who traveled an hour to attend.

A lot of people simply loved the book. And they are looking forward to finally seeing the movie next week when it screens several times at one of Tosa’s movie theaters. Of course now there's the added excitement of knowing about all the awards the movie has won and those it could win at the Oscars on Feb. 26.

Next up, among other things, is the Princess Tea Party on Feb. 23 (Princess Estelle’s 5th birthday) and then a skype conversation with Fredrik Backman himself, whose three number one best sellers in Sweden (A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry and Britt-Marie Was Here) also made the NY Times best sellers list.
See all the events still to come at / The film is also available on DVD through Nordstjernan: A Man Called Ove at Nordic Sampler