Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

On the ferry from Hyannis to Alice Island, Amelia Loman paints her nails yellow, and, while waiting for them to dry, skims her predecessor's notes. ~ Opening of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry



The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Algonquin Books, 2014
Fiction; 272 pgs

I am among the last to read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, a book I put off reading since I first heard about it for fear it would not live up to the hype. I nearly dove into the book back in September, but set it aside to read something else instead. And then I kept putting it off again and again. With a deadline approaching, I decided it was finally time to get to it. And now I am kicking myself for putting it off so long.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was such a delight to read, from the bookish references to the bookstore setting to the charming town of Alice Island and its characters. A.J. reminded be a bit of Ove from Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove. Except for the fact that A.J. isn't really that old, he is a bit curmudgeonly. Since the death of his wife, A.J. is even more withdrawn than his usual self. He finds solace in alcohol and his books. His bookstore is floundering and he wants nothing more than to isolate himself further from the world around him. The theft of his prize possession, a rare book, a baby, and a new publishing sale's rep set A.J.'s world into a tailspin--and nothing will be the same after that.

I found this book to be both charming and heartwarming. A.J. is a bit of a book snob, yes, but he means well. He has his ways of doing things and isn't too keen on change, but change he does when the situation calls for it. A.J. has a bigger heart than he will admit to having.

The sales rep, Amelia, would be a fun person to hang out and talk to, I imagine. I liked her right from the start. And Chief Lambiase . . . I would love to join his book club. Mysteries and crime fiction are among my favorite books too. Then there is sweet Maya, ever precocious with a bright future ahead of her.

I think one of my fears was that this book would be too thick with literary references, and while there were a lot, they were very relateable. As someone who both loves to read and write, I felt right at home in Zevin's novel.  Bookstores really can be the heart of a community and books like this are a reminder of just what that means.
We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone. My life is in these books, he wants to tell her. Read these and know my heart.

To learn more about Gabrielle Zevin and her books, please visit the author's website. You can also find the author on GoodreadsFacebook, and Twitter.

Source: Many thanks to Rebecca Taylor of I'm Lost in Books for sharing this book with me through our postal bookclub! 


© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

22 comments:

  1. I guess I missed the hype, I never heard about it, but after reading your review, I'm eager to read it ! Thanks for sharing, charming and heartwarming is attractive :)

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    1. Iza - It seemed to be the most popular book among many of the blogs I follow last year. It really is a charming book. I am glad I finally got the chance to read it.

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  2. I'm glad you enjoyed the book. I did as well.

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    1. Page - I admit I was worried I wouldn't. I am glad I ended up liking it so much. :-)

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  3. The first time I have heard of this book or indeed its author but it sounds just like my kind of read.

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    1. Tracy - I would be curious to get your take on it if you read it, Tracy!

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  4. My sister read this and loved it but never passed the book along to me. I need to check to see if she still has it.

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    1. Kathy - Definitely make her loan you her copy. I think you'd like this one, Kathy.

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  5. A few from my book club have been raving about this one. I don't own a copy yet but I will get to it eventually because of how good everyone says it is!

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    1. Ti - I wasn't sure I would like it at first, but am so glad I took the plunge. It wasn't quite what I expected in some ways.

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  6. I wish I had waited till the hype had died down to read it. I really enjoyed it but I think my expectations were so high that it still felt like a disappointment. I loved all the bookstore talk and the characters. It was a great story that I probably should reread with more reasonable expectations.

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    1. Katherine - I know what you mean. There was so much praise for this one in the beginning. I am glad I waited, and that my expectations were more realistic because of it.

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  7. I missed out reading on this one. Thanks for the review.

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    1. Mystica - Hopefully you will get a chance to read it.

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  8. This sounds wonderful! I have been in a major reading slump lately. Maybe I'll give this one a try.

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    1. Stephanie - It was a charming book. I hope you get out of your slump soon. :-(

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  9. I read this when it first came out and I LOVED it!

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    1. Hillary - It was a delightful book. I came to really like A.J. Fikry.

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    1. Jillian - It was! I am glad I finally read it.

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  11. So glad that you got to it and loved it. Me too :) I would love to see this as a tv show - without the end, of course.

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    1. Stacy - I think it would make a great television show too. But, yes, definitely without the end.

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