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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel Hardcover – April 1, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; First Edition edition (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616203218
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616203214
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,261 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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


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.

Customer Reviews

Great read, well written and good story!
Jamie D. Shannon
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry was a book about books, for people who love books.
Reeka aka BoundbyWords
Great characters and a great story even if a bit predictable.
Tara Fisher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

145 of 153 people found the following review helpful By Pop Bop TOP 500 REVIEWER on 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.
Read more ›
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97 of 102 people found the following review helpful By M.Jacobsen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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102 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia C.C. on 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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38 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Denise Gibbs on 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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