The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

A Novel

Zevin, Gabrielle

(Book - 2014)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
When his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, bookstore owner A. J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life. The irascible A. J. Fikry, owner of Island Books, the only bookstore on Alice Island, has already lost his wife. Now, a rare book, has been stolen from right under his nose in the most embarrassing of circumstances. The store itself, it seems, will be next to go. One night upon closing, he discovers a toddler in his children's section with a note from her mother pinned to her Elmo doll: "I want Maya to grow up in a place with books and among people who care about such kinds of things. I love her very much, but I can no longer take care of her." A search for Maya's mother, A. J.'s rare book, and good childcare advice ensues, but it doesn't take long for the locals to notice the transformation of both bookstore and owner, something of particular interest to the lovely yet eccentric Knightley Press sales rep, Amelia Loman, who makes the arduous journey to Alice Island thrice each year to pitch her books to the cranky owner.
Publisher: Chapel Hill, North Carolina :, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill,, 2014.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 1616203218
Characteristics: 260 pages ;,22 cm


From the critics

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Feb 19, 2015
  • lumos586 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I absolutely loved this book. Fun, quick to read and yet it has a story and meaning. I have given this book as a gift and got some very good feedback.

Feb 14, 2015
  • karen9 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Awe! This is absolutely an adorable, sweet, sad story! A quick but definitely worthwhile read. I love the fact that all the main characters are huge book fans!

Jan 19, 2015
  • rockylynn rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

An easy and enjoyable book to read. The story is not predictable and keeps you turning the pages until complete.

Jan 14, 2015
  • apeters905 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book is absolutely amazing. It is great for anyone who loves books, and has been or been without a beloved local bookstore.

Jan 12, 2015
  • brian_simard rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Fast read great story

Jan 10, 2015
  • KHaney rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Read this one in one go from start to finish. What a great book, a must read!!

Jan 09, 2015
  • mvkramer rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

At first, this book seemed glib, like more of a summary than a narrative, and a bit gimmicky with its short story themed chapters. Then, it grew on me in a big way. If you like books, and you like getting to know characters, this is the book for you. Bittersweet but uplifting - and a quick read.

Jan 06, 2015
  • Chapel_Hill_MeeghanR rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

A charming story with some genuinely funny and moving bits. Tells the story of A.J. Fikry, who progresses from heavy drinking curmudgeon to beloved family man. If you like stories about books, book stores, and book-lovers, you'll love it.

I happened upon this gem on the Express Reads shelf. It's a wonderful treat for book lovers. Funny and sad, with a mystery thrown in for good measure.

Dec 29, 2014
  • ricky703canada rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

It was an interesting read and one of the few books I was able to finish in time because it was quick-paced. The story is sweet and really draws you in. A recommended read.

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Sep 16, 2014
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

How to account for its presence [on this list of favorites] when I know it is only average? The answer is this: Your dad relates to the characters. It has meaning to me. And the longer I do this (bookselling, yes, of course, but also living if that isn't too awfully sentimental), the more I believe that this is what the point of it all is. To connect, my dear little nerd. Only connect.

Sep 16, 2014
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

It is the secret fear that we are unlovable that isolates us, but it is only because we are isolated that we think we are unlovable. Someday, you do not know when, you will be driving down a road. And someday, you do not know when, he, or indeed she, will be there. You will be loved because for the first time in your life, you will truly not be alone. You will have chosen not to be alone.

Sep 16, 2014
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

It's Amy's favorite. (She seems so sweet on the surface, no?) Amy and I do not always have the exact same taste in things, but this I like.

When she told me it was her favorite, it suggested to me strange and wonderful things about her character that I had not guessed, dark places that I might like to visit.

People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?

Apr 29, 2014
  • stephaniedchase rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

The first way Maya approaches a book is to smell it. She strips the book of its jacket, then holds it up to her face and wraps the boards around her ears.

Apr 29, 2014
  • stephaniedchase rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Her [Amelia's] talents also include multitasking, selecting the right wine at dinner (and the coordinating skill, tending friends who've had too much to drink), houseplants, strays, and other lost causes."

Apr 20, 2014
  • stephaniedchase rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

“Infinite Jest is an endurance contest. You manage to get through it and you have no choice but to say you like it. Otherwise, you have to deal with the fact that you just wasted weeks of your life,” A.J. had countered.


Add a Summary

Set on Alice Island of the coast of Rhode Island, this is the story of a widowed bookseller, A J Fikry, who finds a toddler in his store when he returns from a run. She is Maya, and the note from her mother says that Maya is smart, verbal, and should grow up around books. Loved the setting, the unusual characters, the numerous book recommendations (esp. YA), and the belief in love overcoming all obstacles. The ending is sad, but with a funny twist. If you liked Mr. Penumbra's 24 hr. Bookstore, you'll like this.

A Prayer for Owen Meany
Silas Marner
Their Eyes Were Watching God
I Capture the Castle
The Beauties- Checkov
The Doll's HOuse-K. Mansfield
A Perfect Day for Bananfish-J.d. Salinger
Brownies or Drinking COffee Elsewhere ZZ Packer
In the Cemetary Where AL Jolson Is Buried A. Hempel
Fat R. Carver
Indian Camp e. Hemingway
Secret Life of Octavian Nothing

Chief's Choice Book Club:
Jeffrey Deaver


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