The Storied Life of A.J. FikryBook - 2014
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 Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry 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, though large in weight--an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. 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., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, 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.
From the critics
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How about I tell you what I don't like? 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 mashups a' la the literary detective novel or 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.
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. We are not alone.
My life is in these books, he wants to tell her. Read these and know my heart.
How to account for its presence [on this list of favorites] when I know it is only average? The answer is this: Your dad relates to the characters. It has meaning to me. And the longer I do this (bookselling, yes, of course, but also living if that isn't too awfully sentimental), the more I believe that this is what the point of it all is. To connect, my dear little nerd. Only connect.
It is the secret fear that we are unlovable that isolates us, but it is only because we are isolated that we think we are unlovable. Someday, you do not know when, you will be driving down a road. And someday, you do not know when, he, or indeed she, will be there. You will be loved because for the first time in your life, you will truly not be alone. You will have chosen not to be alone.
It's Amy's favorite. (She seems so sweet on the surface, no?) Amy and I do not always have the exact same taste in things, but this I like.
When she told me it was her favorite, it suggested to me strange and wonderful things about her character that I had not guessed, dark places that I might like to visit.
People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?
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.
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."
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Imagine being a bookseller on a small island off the coast of New England. This book opens with the publisher's marketing person trying to sell their new list to the bookseller and proceeds from there. A wonderful story about a curmudgeonly bookseller, the adopted daughter and the people who are affected by them and change the bookseller's view of people.
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
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:
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