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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Gabrielle Zevin
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,281 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“Funny, tender, and moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry reminds us all exactly why we read and why we love.”*

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over--and see everything anew.   

“This novel has humor, romance, a touch of suspense, but most of all love--love of books and bookish people and, really, all of humanity in its imperfect glory.” —Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child

“Marvelously optimistic about the future of books and bookstores and the people who love both.” —The Washington Post

“You won’t want it to end.” —Family Circle

“A natural for book groups.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“A reader’s paradise of the first order.” —The Buffalo News

“A fun, page-turning delight.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Captures the joy of connecting people and books . . . Irresistible.” —Booklist

“A wonderful, moving, endearing story of redemption and transformation that will sing in your heart for a very, very long time.” —Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

“Readers who delighted in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and Letters from Skye will be equally  captivated by this novel.” —*Library Journal, starred review


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this sweet, uplifting homage to bookstores, Zevin perfectly captures the joy of connecting people and books. A. J. Fikry, the cantankerous owner of Island Books, is despondent after losing his beloved wife and witnessing the ever-declining number of sales at his small, quirky bookstore. In short order, he loses all patience with the new Knightly Press sales rep, his prized rare edition of Tamerlane is stolen, and someone leaves a baby at his store. That baby immediately steals A. J.’s heart and unleashes a dramatic transformation. Suddenly, the picture-book section is overflowing with new titles, and the bookstore becomes home to a burgeoning number of book clubs. With business on the uptick and love in his heart, A. J. finds himself becoming an essential new part of his longtime community, going so far as to woo the aforementioned sales rep (who loves drinking Queequeg cocktails at the Pequod Restaurant). Filled with interesting characters, a deep knowledge of bookselling, wonderful critiques of classic titles, and very funny depictions of book clubs and author events, this will prove irresistible to book lovers everywhere. --Joanne Wilkinson

Review

“Zevin has done something old-fashioned and fairly rare these days. She has written an entertaining novel, modest in its scope, engaging and funny without being cloying or sentimental. On top of all that, it is marvelously optimistic about the future of books and bookstores and the people who love both.” —The Washington Post

“This novel has humor, romance, a touch of suspense, but most of all love--love of books and bookish people and, really, all of humanity in its imperfect glory.” —Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child

“[A] jaunty little novel.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Wade into summer reading with this sweet yet soulful tale of love, loss, the power of friendship--and books. Like sunshine on a breezy spring day, you won't want it to end.” —Family Circle

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry reminds us what saves us all from a life of loneliness and isolation: our sense of empathy; our ability to love and be loved; our willingness to care and be cared for. Gabrielle Zevin has written a wonderful, moving, endearing story of redemption and transformation that will sing in your heart for a very, very long time.” —Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

“Readers who delighted in Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and Jessica Brockmole's Letters from Skye will be equally captivated by this adult novel by a popular YA author about a life of books, redemption, and second chances. Funny, tender, and moving, it reminds us all exactly why we read and why we love.” —Library Journal, starred review

“A beautiful story about getting a second chance at love. A-” —The A. V. Club

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is a breezy, big-hearted treat, especially if you've ever wondered about the inner workings of America's national treasures--neighborhood bookstores.” —Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins

“In this sweet, uplifting homage to bookstores, Zevin perfectly captures the joy of connecting people and books . . . Filled with interesting characters, a deep knowledge of bookselling, wonderful critiques of classic titles, and very funny depictions of book clubs and author events, this will prove irresistible to book lovers everywhere.” —Booklist


Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
147 of 155 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Shaggy Dog Story, With Some Bite March 21, 2014
Format:Hardcover
Lots of fiction works incorporate books or bookstores as central to their plots. Some make good use of both; I'm thinking here of works like "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore". Most, though, use a book as a sort of MacGuffin and it could just as easily be a butter dish. Or, the action takes place in a nice atmospheric bookstore that could just as easily be an auto repair shop. "Fikry", though, is different and belongs to that small category of works that really have something to say about books and bookstores and, in this case, booksellers. And that's great.

Fikry is not just a bookseller. He filters his experiences, his thoughts, even pretty much how he lives his life by reference to his favorite books. Everything he perceives has some analogue in a book he once read, and when he isn't living his life he is thinking about or talking about books. It is no accident that the first major character we meet here is a publisher's rep who begins to play a larger and larger role in Fikry's life. And, because Fikry's opinions are strong and well-informed, the book is interesting enough even if you don't care for the plot at all.

This book has been heavily promoted as "in the spirit" of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society". That's probably good marketing - "Guernsey..." is a well-loved book, although I thought it was a little bland and flabby. But, this book is a lot better, or at least more appealing to me, in one particular regard. A.J. Fikry is a prickly character with a lot of strong opinions and a not entirely likeable or appealing world view. This is not some grand multi-generational saga; it is more of a character sketch, focused on an unusual character. More important - on a thought provoking and sometimes difficult character.

So, no spoilers here.
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97 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tribute to the love of books March 19, 2014
Format:Hardcover
I absolutely loved this novel. A.J. Fikry is the owner of a small, independent bookstore on the small Alice Island in the Northeast. He is cynical, cranky, and depressed...and not without reason. The recent death of his beloved wife has left him a widower at the age of thirty-nine. Their shared love of books seems to have died with his wife and A.J. is left behind with only bitterness.

Enter an absolutely delightful cast of secondary characters who populate the island and A.J.'s life. You're bound to love at least one - if not all - of them.

Next we have the unexpected hope and redemption of A.J. I'm not giving any spoilers here. Yes, it's a feel-good book. But it's more than that: it's a love letter to the power books have in our lives. If you have ever felt changed by a book, this novel will speak to you....you'll "get" it. And if you loved "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" or "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" you'll find lots to love here, as well - not because the plots are similar, but because of the similar feel to the novels that comes from a good cast of eccentric townsfolk, a small community, and a sense of closeness among the characters.

So I'll leave you with this: if you love reading books, do not miss this one. (I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it made into a movie!)
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104 of 125 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice, Safe Story April 27, 2014
Format:Hardcover
There is nothing wrong with this book. I'll begin by saying that. It is decently written. It moves along at a fair pace. The characters are somewhat interesting for the most part. I have nothing particularly negative to say about the story.

I didn't, however, especially like the book. I didn't dislike it either. It was a nice story. It was a safe story. It was gentle and sweet and cozy and predictable. For many readers, those are all excellent qualities. But if you, like myself, prefer books with at least a few edges, a few uncertainties, a little darkness, a little messiness, and some deeper character development, then this isn't the book for you. It's simply a matter of preference.
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40 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this so much! April 8, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY is for book lovers. Anyone who has worked in the business of selling or publishing books will adore how Gabrielle Zevin weaves 'insider' humor throughout the story. Booksellers everywhere will be nodding their heads unanimously, exclaiming, "Yep, that's exactly how it is!"

But one doesn't have to be in the book business to love this book. There is something for everyone: love, friendship, sorrow, romance, laughter, unforgettable characters and writing that sparkles. One of the wonderful things about this story is that it will make you laugh and smile, and perhaps cry, all without ever being sickeningly sweet or pretentious or too goofy.

A.J. Fikry is the cranky owner of Island Books, a small independent book store on Alice Island in New England. He has recently lost his wife and is miserably drinking too much when a smart little toddler named Maya is abandoned in his store. Maya breathes new happiness and meaning into his life, and he adopts her. I won't ruin the surprises by saying more, but there is much much more.

I absolutely loved this book and will be recommending it to everyone I know (and don't know) come April, 2014, when it is published. Readers who loved books like The Rosie Project and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will love this book, although it truly stands alone.

I thank NetGalley and Algonquin Publishing for the privilege of reading an advanced electronic copy of this book. It was purely my pleasure.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly pleased...
Loved the characters and the way a subtle twist was injected deep into the story. Great quick read. I would recommend this to anyone who has a love of literature and a good... Read more
Published 3 hours ago by Stacey Gallagher
5.0 out of 5 stars ... I'm always intrigued by books that are about the love for books
I picked up this book because I'm always intrigued by books that are about the love for books. This one unexpectedly turned out to be one of my favorite books of the year. Read more
Published 4 hours ago by book_thief
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for book lovers who make connections through books
This book was as good as I had hoped for. It was light-hearted and yet it resonated me. Probably because I have always been a book nerd and I too want to connect through... Read more
Published 5 hours ago by MJBookAddict
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful story
If you've ever been emotionally struck by a book, anxiously awaited a book club discussion or spent hours walking through a bookstore, this is the book for you.
Published 5 hours ago by Tina & Tyler Mollica
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book.
Read in one sitting. Unusual in it's telling. Funny, real, sad with wonderful characters the reader can't help caring about.
Published 11 hours ago by Barbara Oldroyd
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Good story, very easy read. No problems relating to the characters. Looking forward to reading my next Gabrielle Kevin book.
Published 11 hours ago by Chris
3.0 out of 5 stars read book in a day
I was looking for a heartwarming and comforting book and is was it. I liked the characters and I loved the reference to books throughout.
Published 13 hours ago by JAMurphy
3.0 out of 5 stars A little disappointed
I read reviews and recommendations of this. It was recommended book by library paper. I bought as a Christmas gift and decided I should read it first. Read more
Published 13 hours ago by sweetea
1.0 out of 5 stars Feels like it never really got off the ground
In my opinion, this reads like a high school writing assignment; something one was forced to write. It lacks depth and passion.
Published 14 hours ago by Susan
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book!
It's the story of my life--wrapped in narratives--wonderful stories of lives based on wonderful short stories that all readers should know. Read more
Published 15 hours ago by Barbara S. Weitz
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More About the Author

Gabrielle Zevin is the author of eight novels, including Elsewhere and most recently,The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, which is a New York Times Best Seller.

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