April 15, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin





The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Algonqin Books
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Source: She Reads

Description:

Gabrielle Zevin
In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books--and booksellers--that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds. 

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island--from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

My Thoughts:

I stopped giving ratings on Goodreads a while back. I wanted half stars. I wanted some sort of algorithm to help me decide how many stars to give a book. In other words the rating system just didn't work for me.

But when I finished The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry I couldn't wait to zoom over to Goodreads and give it 5 giant stars.

I know I'll be re-reading this gem at some point. As soon as I was done with it I regretted not wielding a highlighter and marking up the whole thing. (Even though that is totally against my book rules!)

A.J. is such a fantastic character. Even at his grumpiest he says things that ring so true that all you can do is nod and agree:

"How about I tell you what I don't like? I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magical realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn't be - basically gimmicks of any kin. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful - nonfiction only, please. I do not like genre mash-ups a la  the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying. I do not like children's books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer not to clutter my shelves with young adult. I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred fifty pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items, and - I imagine this goes without saying - vampires. I rarely stock debuts, chick lit, poetry, or translations. I would prefer not to stock series but the demands of my pocketbook require me to. For your part, Ms. Loman, I find slim literary memoirs about little old men whose little old wives have died from cancer to be absolutely intolerable. No matter how well written the sales rep claims they are. No matter how many copies you promise I'll sell on Mother's Day."

Genius!

Gabrielle Zevin has written a story that every book lover will revel in. It's quirky, hilarious, touching, and I was delighted with the sheer bookishness. You will be too.

40 comments:

  1. I love that you couldn't wait to give this five stars! The quote is great - I've been wanting to read this since everyone started raving about it and you just moved it way up my list.

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    1. I'd put that quote on a t-shirt if it wasn't so darn long! It's so good :D I hope you adore it, Shannon!

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  2. I loved this book too! I'm pretty sure I would find A.J. so rude if I was a customer in his bookstore, but you really get to know his heart in the story and find his grumpiness endearing. I also have stopped rating books on Goodreads and wish you could give half stars, but I wouldn't hesitate to give this book five stars as well.

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    1. I'd wonder what his problem was if I walked into his store too ;) It's probably a good thing that we got to read about him instead, lol.

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  3. Ok added to my TBR pile...spotted the title already but your raving review convinced me. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Great! It's such a wonderful story :D

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  4. Just put it on my wishlist. I loved both the Literary Potato etc and Harold Fry, so if this book is like those two, I think I will love it. Thanks for the tip!

    Kind regards,

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    1. It has that same delightful feel of those books, I think you know what I mean. I hope you get to this soon and I hope you like it half as much as I did :D

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  5. I'm on the waiting list at the library, but it sounds like I should just go buy my own copy of this book!! I wish goodreads allowed half starts, too...

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    1. You know what? No matter what copy you read you're going to want to own it so you might as well just go buy it now! :D

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    2. Oh and why don't they use half stars?? Hmph.

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  6. Oh yay! Can't wait to read it!

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    1. It's such a fun read! I hope you love it :D

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  7. Five giant stars? I'm so going searching for this book, but don't hold your breath our library will have it. ;)

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    1. I think you're probably right. It's a hot title and you might have to wait a long while. Boo to that! But it will be worth the wait :D

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  8. This book is called "The Collected Works of A. J. Fikry" here in Australia (I like our title better) and I recently received a copy in the mail. I'm looking forward to reading it, I like a good quirky book about books

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    1. I had to go look up the Australian cover. I like it better! I like your title better too. Why do they do that anyway? I sense a bout of googling coming on ;)

      I hope you like it, Michael

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    2. I'm curious to know that too, so I hope you blog about it ;P

      I've got 10 days off so I'm sure I'll be reading this in that time (unless other books get in the way)

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    3. I've added it to my list of ideas :D

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  9. I like the Australian title better too! (Cover, I want to see a cover.)

    I have this in the queue, I know there's tons of love for it right now but I can't seem to work up the gumption to dive in. You've inspired me. If I make it out of Lolita alive, this might be next up.

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    1. The Aussie cover is really stinking cool and I'm totally jealous :D

      I've never read Lolita. That's one of my shame books. I feel shame because I haven't read it. One day!

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  10. Great review - it's succinct but really got across the essence of the book and why you loved it. The quote is fantastic! I'm adding to my TBR right now!

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    1. Thanks so much, Stephanie I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did :D

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  11. I have got to read this thing - I feel like the only one in the world that hasn't! And I haven't seen a negative review yet! Love the quote...

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    1. You're probably not the only one, but it might be close ;) You should absolutely get to it, it's such a gem of a book!

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  12. Hot damn, Jen hauling out the big fat 5 star rating?!?! And that quote?! I need to read this like yesterday.

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    1. Right!? That's a rare occurrence. You really DO need to read this, woman. Get to it!

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  13. I loved this book. Loved. DID I MENTION THE LOVE??? Gabrielle Zevin is a goddess. Read more of her stuff.

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    1. Everyone we know should read this. And I definitely have to read more of her stuff. Definitely!

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  14. I've been wanting to read this one for a long time! Your review just made me realize how much.

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    1. Fantastic! I hope you get to it soon :D

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  15. This sounds so quirky and charming! I've seen a lot of people raving about it on Twitter, and I need to read it!

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    1. Yes! You you do, Leah :D It's going to be one of those peer pressure books, lol. I'm going to FORCE IT ON PEOPLE!

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    2. You you? :) Ha ha. Some typos are better than others, lol.

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  16. Isn't this just the perfect book for book bloggers (or really any book lover)? Such a delight.

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    1. Yes! Exactly! I felt like the author was looking inside my brain while she wrote this one :D

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  17. Just requested it from the library. I haven't read anything by her yet.

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    1. I'm glad to hear it, Chris! I hope it comes in fast and that you like it :)

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  18. I'm on a long hold list for this at the library...can't wait to read it!!!!

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    1. It's worth the wait, Lori. I promise!

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