I did it. I don’t know how but I managed to read 100 books this year. So far.
One hundred books! Let’s be honest – this year was some kind of awesome book anomaly. I can’t imagine that I will ever hit this kind of reading number again so let’s just all take a moment to bask in this moment’s glory.
As I was approaching the milestone, I started to think about what book I should read for number 100. Should it be a short book that got me there faster? Should it be a book of massive cultural significance? I have a good memory – there is every chance that I will remember what book I chose that one time I read 100 books.
The answer was pretty obvious. It was staring me in the face but it took a friend pointing it out to me for me to realize that.
The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.
100 books, 100 year old man. Obviously.
Jonas Jonasson’s book about a 100 year old man that’s had enough of life in an Old Folk’s home and just decides to up and leave has been sitting on my shelf for weeks – ever since I stole it from my father-in-law to be. He hasn’t even read it yet. I’m a bookish a**hole. Stealing might be putting it a bit harshly – he told me to take it. Not sure he realized how long it would be til he got it back though.
So it’s been sitting on my shelf for months and I just kept finding other things to read. I guess I was just saving it for a special occasion.
This book is fantastic. I didn’t have any preconceived notions going in – this is one of those books that doesn’t tell you much on the cover. Just that Allan Karlsson is 100 and he hates living in the Old Folks’ home and he likes vodka. A character I can get behind. So Allan leaves the Home, walks to the bus station and gets on a bus. But not before he is asked to watch a suitcase so an agitated young man can go use the facilities. Allan knows that he only has so much time before the people at the Home realize he’s gone and come looking for him so when his bus shows up and the guy is still in the bathroom, he just takes the suitcase with him. He’s 100, he doesn’t care.
Turns out that the suitcase contains 50 million Swedish kroner. Suddenly Allan is in the middle of a manhunt but we soon find out that Allan is an extremely unique individual; over the course of his life he has matter-of-factly had dinner with Generalissimo Franco, Mao Tse Tung, Harry S. Truman, Stalin and Kim Il-Sung. He even comforted a 10-year-old Kim Jong-Il when “Uncle Stalin” died. He spends time in a Russian Gulag and an Iranian prison and collects an incredible amount of knowledge about nuclear arms.
I loved this book. Allan is so matter-of-fact and calm about everything. He is completely apolitical so has no opinions about the sorts of people he ends up getting mixed up with. The motley crew of people he bands with in the modern day are equally hilarious and odd. There’s the red-headed woman who lives with an elephant and a dog, the hot-dog stand vendor who has spent a life time almost qualifying for every profession you can think of and the criminal boss who discovers a kindred spirit in our Mr. Karlsson.
This book was an unexpected treat. I’m glad I saved it for now but it’s another one of those books that makes me sad to leave my book friends behind.