The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry- She Reads April Selection

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The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

by Gabrielle Zevin

published Algonquin Books

by April 2014

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary

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 Review

A.J. Fikry is a major bookworm and a major grump.  He is the owner of the independ bookstore, Island Books, on the fictional Alice Island, and he is extremely unhappy.  He is grieving for his dead wife, Nic, and struggling to keep the floundering bookstore going.  One day, he discovers someone has left a baby in his store, with a note asking him to take care of her.  The change in A.J.’s life is truly amazing.

This is a wonderful novel from the author.  I love stories about books, book lovers, and bookstores, and this encompasses all three.  As snarky and obnoxious as A.J. is, the reader really comes to love him.  I want to go into Island Books, and shop around!

She Reads truly picked a winner in their April Book Club selection.  Head over there to read more reviews of this wonderful book.

http://www.shereads.org/april-book-club-selection-5/

Some great quotes:

“You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question: What is your favorite book?”

“Why is any one book different from any other book? They are different, A.J. decides, because they are. We have to look inside many. We have to believe. We agreed to be disappointed sometimes so that we can be exhilarated every now and again.”

“Remember, Maya: the things we respond to at twenty are not necessarily the same things we will respond to at forty and vice versa. This is true in books and also in life.”

“Why is any one book different from any other book? They are different, A.J. decides, because they are. We have to look inside many. We have to believe. We agree to be disappointed sometimes so that we can be exhilarated every now and again.”

 

“I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magic realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn’t be—basically gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful. 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.”

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Against My Will! Top 10 books I was “forced” to read

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke & the Bookish.  It’s awesome. Every Tuesday, the lovely ladies over there give us book bloggers wonderful and fun topics to create our lists!  Check out what others have posted by going over there! http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.com

This week’s topic is-

Top ten books I was “FORCED” to read-

“(either by teachers, friends, other bloggers, book club) — doesn’t necessarily have to be a BAD thing. Could be required reading, yes, but also book club, or just super enthusiastic friends “making” you read something!”

I decided to have some fun with is- I picked a few different views-

The Ugly-

1-  Mine are Spectacular

My old book club thought this would be a fun read.  All it was was BAD-and embarrassing.  What were they thinking? Look at the cover!

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She Reads!

I was so excited when I found this awesome site- and even more so when I realized they had an online book club (as you can see from above, I was not having the best of luck with the old book club-but the wine was good).  Two of my favorite from their selections-

2.  The Silence Of Bonaventure Arrow

3.  The Orphan Train

Totally recommend these if you haven’t read them!

High School

Mrs. Chapman was my 11th grade English teacher.  Most hated her, but I loved her because she introduced me to-

4.  Frankenstein

5.  The Scarlet Letter

on the other hand, my AP Spanish class made us read-

6.  Don Quixote

IN SPANISH!!  I still have nightmares.

College

I was SO lucky to have majored in History with some really wonderful professors (I am talking about you Profs Johnson and Muccigrosso!!)  I got to read-

7.  The Great Gatsby

8.  Things Fall Apart

VACAY

Like most of you, I enjoy reading on vacation.  Once, while I was visiting the in-laws, I ran out of books that I brought (gasp-this was before kindle entered my life)  My lovely mother in law lent me-

9.  Loving Frank – LOVED IT!

Last year, I was in the airport heading home with nothing to read, when I dashed into the bookstore and quickly grabbed the first book that looked attractive  (don’t judge)

10.  The Last Letter Form Your Letter– Introduced me to an amazing author- Jojo Moyes!

What were you forced to read?