The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

A Novel
Zevin, Gabrielle (Book - 2014 )
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Item Details

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.
Authors: Zevin, Gabrielle
Title: The storied life of A.J. Fikry
a novel
Published: Chapel Hill, North Carolina :, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill,, 2014.
Edition: First edition.
Characteristics: 260 pages ;,22 cm
Summary: 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.
Local Note: 1 2 3 4
ISBN: 1616203218
Branch Call Number: F ZEV
Statement of Responsibility: Gabrielle Zevin
Subject Headings: Man-woman relationships Fiction. Abandoned children Fiction. Widowers Fiction. Bookstores Fiction. Booksellers and bookselling Fiction.
Genre/Form: Psychological fiction.
Topical Term: Man-woman relationships
Abandoned children
Booksellers and bookselling
LCCN: 2013043144
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A short, 'to the point' story that draws you in and allows you to live with A.J. Fikry. Mostly delightful although near the end I was somewhat disappointed not to hear the characters' voices but rather only the narrator's. Perhaps this premise of plot was necessary given the outcome of A.J.'s life.

Aug 12, 2014
  • molmil8 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is a great book. If you are the kind of person who hates books where the story moves along too slow, this is for you! Reminded me of two of my favorites: The Art of Racing in the Rain The Rosie Project. Hard to see how anyone would be disappointed with this one.

Aug 11, 2014
  • GummiGirl rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A sentimental tale for lovers of books and bookstores, complete with lots of literary references. The main premise is that reading habits reflect one's character, but both are capable of improvement.

Jul 30, 2014
  • vitareader rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

The story of a grieving widower that is trying to kill himself with drink every night and spends his days being the grumpy guy that owns the local book store is a plot line that could get old fast but that is not the end of the story it is only the beginning . Although The Storied life of A.J. Fikry is a small book it is packed with enough action, secrets, sweetness (and talk about books) to make you keep reading.
Ms. Zevin's style of writing made it easy to know the characters and care about them in a very short time. I also liked the chapter openers that mentioned other books or short stories ,some I have read and some I made note of to read later. It is a charming read.

One of my favourite bits of dialogue was Fikry telling Amelia what kind of books he doesn't like it was a hoot and though I don't agree with all his slams I agreed with enough of them to make me cheer his rant.

Zevin also brings to the fore that books don't make the author. As a child I was unable to separate the book from the author. I never thought to do so . They both had to be good.
Ah, innocence...and pre google.

Jul 30, 2014
  • sasie rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Such a pleasant enjoyable story. Loved the book store setting which provided lots of chuckles.

Jul 29, 2014
  • ksoles rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

To say the least, thirty-nine-year-old A.J. Fikry's life has turned out unexpectedly. He never meant to become proprietor of Island Books, the only bookstore on tiny Alice Island in New England. He never prepared to fight to keep the store afloat as the book industry and the economy conspired against him. He never foresaw his copy of "Tamerlane," the first poetry collection by Edgar Allen Poe and one of the rarest, most valuable books in American literature, disappearing from his kitchen. He never planned for life without his wife, who, two months pregnant, died in a car accident. And he certainly never dreamed that a two-year-old would show up on his doorstep accompanied by a note reading, “I love her very much, but I can no longer take care of her.”

The plot of "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry" sounds like a trite, cliché-filled and predictable bore: surly, isolated bookseller begins the book acting rude towards his staff, the locals, his former sister-in-law, and anyone else who dares even approach him, including Amelia, the new sales rep for Knightley Press. Foundling child steals his heart and changes both his personality and his life for the better. Romance blossoms and everyone lives happily ever after.

But L.A. based writer, Gabrielle Zevin (better known as a young adult writer), navigates skilfully through treacherous terrain, overturning expectations and avoiding both the “single man struggling humourously with childcare” and “adoption hassles with faceless bureaucracy” tropes. She focuses on the power of life to surprise and on the power of change to provide light in the barest of moments. Less than 300 pages but spanning more than a decade, the story chronicles the idiosyncrasies of small-town life while exploring the depths of grief, yearning and heartbreak. Yes, the hackneyed love story makes an appearance, but Zevin handles it with refreshing sensitivity and genuine clarity.

Perhaps most importantly, "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry" is about books. It proves that books and stories can become part of our lives, that we can find ourselves within what we read, that we carry books with us as talismans. Free of metatextualism and philosophical digressions, this book will appeal to anyone who loves books, to anyone who can recognize the power of a well-told story.

patron review:

Really enjoyed this book! lovely characters, interesting facts!

Jul 16, 2014
  • lilianabeatriz rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

A very nice and interesting book.
My friends and I enjoyed very much in our book club. Easy to read.

Jul 14, 2014
  • NLC4321 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Loved this book.

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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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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.


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Apr 29, 2014
  • becker rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

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