Book Title/Author: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher/Year: April 2014, Viking
Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary
“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.” (Book Depository)
Charming & Delightful. I would recommend this to literary fiction bookworms, as there are lots of literary references that will make you add a few new books to your tbr list.
One of my favourite things about this book was the format in which it is written — I am not going to wreck the surprise here, but once you get used to it and see the pattern, it’s an absolute delight. Also having sections broken up by A.J.’s notes/letters about his favourite reads, felt like a bonus to the book. I was getting additional books to add to my tbr list, this book is full of recommendations.
The book has some good bookish quotes and your usual colorful cast of small-town characters. This is a pleasant, entertaining novel and was perfect for summer.
“They had only ever discussed books but what, in this life, is more personal than books?”
“You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?”
“We aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on”
“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.”
“The words you can’t find, you borrow. We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone.”
“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—nonfiction only, please. I do not like genre mash-ups à 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.”