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The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry Paperback – 23 Apr 2015

4.3 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (23 April 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034914107X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349141077
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Zevin has done something old-fashioned and fairly rare these days. She has written an entertaining novel, modest in its scope, engaging and funny without being cloying or sentimental. On top of all that, it is marvelously optimistic about the future of books and bookstores and the people who love both (Washington Post)

Packed with the love of a life lived around books (Metro)

This wonderful, funny, uplifting homage to bookshops is an absolute treat. I've bought it for everyone I know (Huffington Post)

Delightful! I read [it] in one sitting. This novel has humor, romance, a touch of suspense, but most of all love--love of books and bookish people and, really, all of humanity in its imperfect glory (Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child)

I read this book in one big greedy gulp. A charming and funny love letter to the written word - it will leave you smiling and with a large lump in your throat (Natasha Solomons, bestselling author of Mr Rosenblum’s List and The Novel in the Viola)

Reminds us what saves us all from a life of loneliness and isolation: our sense of empathy; our ability to love and be loved; our willingness to care and be cared for. Gabrielle Zevin has written a wonderful, moving, endearing story of redemption and transformation that will sing in your heart for a very, very long time (Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rai)

Readers who delighted in Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Rachel Joyce's The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and Jessica Brockmole's Letters from Skye will be equally captivated by this adult novel by a popular YA author about a life of books, redemption, and second chances. Funny, tender, and moving, it reminds us all exactly why we read and why we love (Library Journal)

In this sweet, uplifting homage to bookstores, Zevin perfectly captures the joy of connecting people and books . . . Filled with interesting characters, a deep knowledge of bookselling, wonderful critiques of classic titles, and very funny depictions of book clubs and author events, this will prove irresistible to book lovers everywhere (Booklist)

A breezy, big-hearted treat, especially if you've ever wondered about the inner workings of America's national treasures--neighborhood bookstores (Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins)

Zevin is a deft writer, clever and witty, and her affection for the book business is obvious (Publishers Weekly)

Sometimes funny, sometimes true to life and always entertaining . . . A likable literary love story about selling books and finding love (Kirkus)

I was captivated . . . a touching, funny and uplifting novel that reminds us how books have the power to shape and transform our lives (Psychologies)

it's hard not to be charmed by this story . . . Full of knowing literary jokes, Zevin's pithy novel is nonetheless undoubtedly entertaining and remains unconventional enough to cut through the sentiment (Daily Mail)

A warm and uplifting story which manages to be witty and quietly subversive while avoiding the pitfalls of sentimentality (Mail on Sunday)

Book Description

Originally published as The Collected Works of A. J. Fikry.

The little book with the big heart - the New York Times bestseller that has won passionate fans around the world.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book had been on my radar for such a long time and after reading it I regret leaving it so long. Though sad in places it's wonderfully uplifting,charming and humourous and if you've not read it, I urge you too; particularly if you've enjoyed books like The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, 84 Charing Cross Road or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Initially AJ came across as a spiky unlikeable character, but as you get to know him you'll realise he's just protecting himself and really has a heart of gold. The secondary characters all play significant parts with none of them feeling like fillers which I liked. I honestly don't think I disliked any of them which is rare.

What really comes through also is the author's love of books and how well read she is to be able to have the mini analysis and empart these little pearls of wisdom at the start of each chapter. These some way link to main character's daughter throughout and as she grows up which is really sweet.

Occasionally twee, but I think any book lover will take Island Books and its owners and customers into their hearts and will think about them long after the final page is turned.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is a story all about a bookshop owner, a young bookworm, and a book seller. Each chapter opens with a quote from one of the bookshop owner's favourite books. You may get the impression that this book is all about books. You'd be right.

If you're still reading, then that probably means you're a bit of a book lover too.

This is a story of how books can affect people's lives. Each character is affected by the printed word. And it's also a love story (and not just about a love of books!).

A.J.Fikry sells books, in a bookshop on an island. Disheartened since the premature death of his beloved wife, he treats publisher's agent Amelia with initial rudeness when she first comes to discuss her latest new titles. But a sudden surprising event changes Fikry's outlook, hopes and priorities for good, and Island Books starts to change, and change people's lives with it.

I know that's an incredibly brief summary, but I wouldn't want to spoil the story for anyone. There may be nothing new under the sun, and nothing here that hasn't been written before, but Zevin has created a true and moving tribute to the printed book that warmed me to read. Someone else knows how I feel about books and reading - each character portrays different aspects of the reader. We see begrudging readers become book club advocates, children growing up among their favourite characters, books bringing people together.

This is one you'll race through, then wish you'd taken your time over. It's bittersweet, uplifting and a must for any lover of literature.

Review of a Netgalley advance copy.
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By Lincs Reader TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 April 2015
Format: Paperback
Gabrielle Zevin is the author of one of my favourite Young Adult novels; Elsewhere. It must be six years ago now that I read it, yet I remember it so well. I have since read a few more of her novels and was really excited when I heard about A J Fikry. Just look at that cover - what book lover could resist it?

By the end of the first chapter of this warm, witty and clever book I was totally and madly in love with A J Fikry. By the end of the novel, I was completely besotted by him, and by his book store, his family, his friends, his home town. There is nothing, just nothing in this book to dislike. It is most definitely a 'tingler' - a book that makes you tingle all over as you read. I was part of the world of A J Fikry and I didn't want to leave.

A J is a book seller. His wife died recently, he lives alone with just his books for company. His sister-in-law stops by every now and again to clean up after him when he's hit the bottle. He's miserable, he's grumpy and he's quite rude. A J loves books, but only certain books, he's very specific about what he doesn't like, and when Amelia, the sales rep from Knightley Publishers tries to sell him some titles from their latest catalogue he makes sure she knows just what suits him;
'How about I tell you what I don't like?
I do not like postmodernism, post-apocalyptic settings, post-mortem 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 - non-fiction only, please. I do not like genre mash-ups a la the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy.
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Format: Paperback
I first heard The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin at work when my colleagues were discussing reading the US edition. I thought it sounded amazing, so when I was offered a chance to review it, I jumped at the chance. And I'm so pleased to say it's an absolutely incredible book!

A.J. Fikry owns and runs Island Books, a small indie bookstore on Alice Island. His wife died a year and a half ago, and he's all but given up. He's curmudgeonly and has no patience for anyone. The only bright spark in his life is that he owns a very rare first edition of Tamerlane by Poe, which he plans to sell so he can retire early. One night it's stolen, and he's left with nothing. Except for Maya, a little girl who is abandoned in his store by her mother. Their lives are about to change drastically.

My description above barely covers the story, but to say any more would be to ruin how wonderful it is to discover the story yourself. The characters are individual and quirky, the plot is charming, and the narrative is amusing. As A.J. runs a bookstore, various books are mentioned throughout, and there is such love and enthusiasm for reading and the written word, it's fantastic. A book that talks about and understands this passion I have!

The novel is told in third person, mostly from A.J.'s point of view, but it does jump between the characters. A.J. is such a great character, and seeing how he changes throughout the story is just wonderful. He is so past caring about pretty much anything at the beginning after losing his wife, and the theft of his rare copy of Tamerlane is the final straw. But when Maya comes into his life, everything changes. He's pulled out of the dark hole he's in by her small little hand, and is remembers what joy and love are.
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