Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Book Review | THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY by Gabrielle Zevin

There Ain’t Nobody In The World Like Book People

April 2014; Algonquin Books

A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner of Island Books, has recently endured some tough years: his wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and his prized possession--a rare edition of Poe poems--has been stolen. Over time, he has given up on people, and even the books in his store, instead of offering solace, are yet another reminder of a world that is changing too rapidly. Until a most unexpected occurrence gives him the chance to make his life over and see things anew. -Goodreads

I've mentioned before, I enjoy reading books about books, bookstores and book people. The book blurb described this "as 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." Of course, that got me interested in the beginning, but it’s not the reason it wowed me after reading.

A.J. Fikry is the grouchy sole bookseller in Alice Island. A sign that says “No Man is an Island, Every Book is a World” hangs above the porch of his small bookshop. He lives alone above the store, lamenting the loss of his wife Nic and diligently wasting his life away with alcohol. But his rut was interrupted when his life treasure, the 1st edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tamerlane, was stolen. Then one day, a bookshop visitor left behind an unlikely package that changed his life forever.

This is the most charming book. I have no qualms recommending this to everyone.  It is much more than the plot or characters. Some readers may say that it is mawkish and convenient, but it is the sentimentality, simple plot, and simple prose that resonates with the passion many people have for reading, connection, and affirmation of love.  These are the catalyst that surprisingly turned the book into a moving and unforgettable read. 
“We are not quite novels.   
We are not quite short stories.  
In the end, we are collected works.”

Each chapter is heralded by a book reference, a glimpse into the heart of A.J. Fickry, containing a minute review and personal thoughts. The relevance of these nuggets will heartwarmingly unravel itself slowly, and I guarantee you that your reading piles will be bigger at the end of this beautiful tale.
“My life is in these books. 
Read these and know my heart.”

Book details:
Book Title:  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Author:  Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication date:  April 2014
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  ★★★★

*Thank you Algonquin Books and NetGalley for the uncorrected proof. 


  1. Eeek! This book sounds awesome. Random thought: Mr. Norrell popped into my head. Sounds like Fikry is similar to him.

    1. LOL. He is grouchy, but nothing like Norell. You'll like him, I'm sure.