Wednesday Reads – The one hundred year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

It’s been a while since I wrote a Wednesday Reads post and it’s not because I haven’t been reading.  I just did think you wanted read a review on “Conceptualising the Good Teacher” or “What makes a good school?”  So instead I waited until I finished something a little more interesting and that came in the form of a book with a very long title.


I have a thing for books with long titles, I don’t know why or where it started, but if I’m hunting for a good book a long title will always spark my interest.  Over the years I’ve read some great books this way.  Books like The curious incident of the dog in the night time, The Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society and A short history of tractors in Ukraine.  Actually now that I think about it I do know where it all began with me and long-titled books.  My favourite-read-it-a-thousand-times-until-I-knew-by-heart childhood book, Alexander’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  Anyway my latest in this trend is a Swedish gem called The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson.  It was just what the doctored ordered to fill the reading gaps between the somewhat dull professionally intriguing journal articles I’ve studying for my uni course.  It’s funny, hilarious at times, it’s light and quirky in that special Scandinavian kind of way.

While I was reading this someone asked me what it was about, I answered “It’s about a one hundred year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared.”  Perhaps that’s how Jonasson came up with the title, being asked what his book was about.  This particular hundred year old man, Allan Karlsson, goes on quite an adventure after climbing out the window of his Old Folks home (on his birthday no less), joining up with a petty thief, a hotdog stand owner and a red headed woman with a a pet elephant and Alsatian.  In telling this story we also travel back through Allen’s hundreds years on Earth and are given quite the history lesson to boot as he befriends US presidents, Russian tyrants and Chinese communist leaders.

If you look at the reviews for this work it seems you either love it or hate it.  I loved it.  True the story line does become a little predictable, but in a sort of purposeful way.  You can see the next big historic event or figure Allen is going to become entwined with only because he’s there in all of the big ones – kind of like Forrest Gump was but without the cheesiness of that one.  What is less predictable is how Allen, as a centenarian, is going to wriggle out of his current spot of bother.  In the end everything is wrapped up nicely, but perhaps a little too nicely for me.  A small criticism, but one nonetheless.

For those who didn’t like it I think it was the absurdity of the story that disappointed them.  I liked that, the more absurd the better.  I was playing a game with myself in my head as I was reading, trying to guess how Allen was going to end up meeting this political leader or involve himself in that historic event.  I was never quite right – my level of the absurd clearly needs work.  This book is just downright fun to read, one I would recommend to anyone looking for a break from the humdrum of life.

And that’s it for this post.  There will be more, I have a pile of really interesting books waiting for my attention, but I can’t promise when the next one will be.  In the meantime, tell me what you’re reading.  I’d love to hear all about it.

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8 Responses to Wednesday Reads – The one hundred year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

  1. narf77 says:

    I don’t know…a little dry but might have a few good pointers… 😉 I only just managed to finish The time travelers wife. It was so good I had to take it out of the library 3 times and then once more (my librarian likes me and occasionally bends the rules…) I was sad when I had to let it go :(. Maybe I need a nice light read.

    • Barbara Good says:

      Yes, some good pointers but definitely dry! I’m so glad you enjoyed the time traveler’s wife – now NEVER see the film! I really felt like I was friends with the main characters in that book once I’d finished it, I didn’t want to give it back either. Actually I think I bought that one in the end. If you’re after something light this one would do the trick – or The Rosie Project which I reviewed a little while ago. Both very funny.

  2. Great review. I’m definitely in the Loved It camp with this book, I really enjoyed it.

    There’s another great book that I read a while ago that has some similarities. It’s about a man who went to post a letter at the post box, then decided to walk to the next one, then kept walking until he’d walked the length of the UK. Of course I can’t remember the name of it and can’t find my copy at the moment either! Hopefully someone else knows it?

  3. Pingback: Another late Wednesday Reads – The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson | The New Good Life

  4. Pingback: What I read in 2014 | The New Good Life

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