Book Mini-Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
"And the longer I do this..., the more I believe that this is what the point of it all is. To connect, my dear little nerd. Only connect."
I love books about books and reading. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is one such book. I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started. The bookjacket synopsis was fairly vague, only saying that A.J. Fikry is extremely set in his ways and is the poster child for curmudgeons (though I was expecting a man in his sixties, not in his late thirties). After the death of his wife, A.J. is left to run Island Books on Alice Island by himself. Not knowing how to process his grief, he is drinking himself to death, isn’t making any new friends, and refuses to stock books that are not literary fiction or short stories. However, when his rare collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s poems, Tamerlane, is stolen from his house, it forces A.J. to reevaluate his life.
At the beginning of the novel, Amelia Loman, the newest book rep for Knightley Press, takes over the account for Island Books when her predecessor dies. She is very excited to show all the great books from Knightley to A.J., but A.J. doesn’t want to have anything to do with her and is pretty rude. Shortly after Amelia's first visit and the stolen Tamerlane, A.J. finds a little girl waiting in the bookstore with a note from the mom saying she wants Maya to grow up in a bookstore. A.J., who has no experience with babies or children, contacts the Chief of Police, Nicholas Lambiase, to see what to do. As time goes by, A.J. becomes a better version of himself, becoming a father, befriending Lambiase, and actually reading books other than literary fiction that the residents of Alice Island will actually buy. He eventually befriends Amelia after their less than favorable first visit.
As the story moves through A.J.’s life, I found myself less interested in the plot and more interested in the little notes that A.J. wrote about different short stories. Like I said, books about reading and books are the best. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry captures what so many readers feel about books and reading. I love how over the novel, A.J. gives up his pretension about literary fiction and is willing to stock other genres, especially children’s books, and Lambiase starts reading books other than crime fiction and starts a book club. I enjoyed this book so much; it was the perfect way to wrap up my reading for 2017. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading about books and/or bookstores. I give it 4 stars.
What is your favorite book about reading?