Fredrik Backman on fatherhood

“Things My Son Needs to Know about the World” by Swedish writer Fredrik Backman is the second book I’ve finished this year. I’m going for 60 books in my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge, so just 58 more to go.

Backman has been one of my favorite authors ever since I read his first novel, “A Man Called Ove”. I looked for his book after stumbling upon the movie based on this novel and watching it on our flight back to the Philippines from Stockholm.

Published last year, “Things My Son Needs to Know about the World” is a collection of essays and side notes to his newborn son, offering a poignant and hilarious account of fatherhood. It’s fascinating to learn more details about your favorite author’s personal life, including that his wife was born in Tehran and is five feet tall while he’s six foot one (the characters in “A Man Called Ove” are even more lovable now); his misadventures with his friends; and his love for video games, the X-Men, WWE, and “Any Given Sunday”.

Here’s an excerpt from the essay “What You Need to Know About Good and Evil”:

“So be different from me, better, do me that favor. Never keep your mouth shut. Don’t look away. Never be mean just because you can be. Never mistake kindness for weakness. Don’t become the kind of person who stands in an office with panoramic windows in an advertising firm and thinks that ‘nice’ is an insult.

“The Undertaker taught me that. I hope I can teach you the same.

“And, yeah, maybe don’t tell your mother what I said about Kane putting his brother into a box and setting it on fire. She doesn’t understand wrestling.”

Here’s another excerpt from the essay “What You Need to Know About Soccer”:

“And I know all kids sooner or later reach a point in their lives where they realize their dads aren’t actually superheroes. I’m not stupid. I just wish for it to take as long as possible. I wish we could at least have a couple of Sunday afternoons together, you and I. Something that’s ours. Something I understand. Because I’m not afraid to say I love you, I’m just so deadly scared of all the rest.

“Scared of the day when I lose my place in your life.”

Read this book on Scribd:

And damn it, Fredrik Backman, you never fail to make me cry.

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