A 100-Year-Old Man Does the Unthinkable(s)

On his 100th birthday, Allan Karlsson climbs out of the window of his Swedish nursing home and makes a run for it. Actually, as most people his age would do, he shuffles off to an adventure that leaves readers to decide if he is a hero or a bumbling fool.

Take a deep breath for the title: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson. Karlsson’s daring escape from his caretakers quickly becomes the least surprising of his actions in this ridiculous, but charming story. His life becomes linked with an unlikely collection of co-conspirators, shady criminals, and law enforcement officers. Millions of crowns, several killings, explosions and an elephant named Sonya all play roles.

If you are a history buff, you may be intrigued by his connections to Harry Truman, Mao Tse-tung, General Franco and Joseph Stalin. And explosives. Then there is his role in the development of nuclear weaponry.

At the beginning of the story, I turned pages as fast as I could. I got bogged down a few times in the flashbacks to his earlier exploits, told in perhaps too much detail. But if I live to be 100, I know I will share Allan Karlsson’s desire to do the unexpected, to defy those who think they have me figured out. I just hope those who follow me are as curious about my fate as I was about Allan Karlsson’s.

It is a Fact: We are Wrong About the World

Which of these statements best represents your view of the world today?

A. For most people, the quality of life is declining.

B. The quality of life is not changing much for most people.

C. The quality of life has vastly improved in modern times.

Swedish author Hans Rosling begins Factfulness: Ten Reasons Why We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think with a story from a circus, then tests readers’ views of the world with 13 multiple-choice questions. After you find out your (probably failing) score, he explains that chimpanzees probably would do better on his test than most humans by randomly choosing answers.

Every doomsayer should read this book. Every optimist should read this book. Maybe everyone should read this book; it will change your view of the world–past, present and future.

Rosling uses compelling statistical evidence in his battle against simple views of the world that are based on generalizations that we cling to because they fit our world vision. The facts are presented in vivid charts and graphs that are illustrated by compelling human stories from around the world.

He explains how our instincts affect our impressions about poverty, child mortality rates, life expectancy, deaths from natural disasters, climate change, child vaccination, and more.

If you are a TED talk fan, chances are that you are familiar with the international health professor. Sadly, pancreatic cancer claimed his life in 2017, the year before Factfulness was published. His son, Ola Rosling, and daughter-in-law Anna Rosling Rönnlund, who both worked with the author for years, completed the project.