The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry : A Novel

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      “Marvelously optimistic about the future of books and bookstores and the people who love both.”—The Washington Post A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over--and see everything anew. “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 “You won't want it to end.” —Family Circle “A natural for book groups.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch “A reader's paradise of the first order.” —The Buffalo News “A fun, page-turning delight.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune “Captures the joy of connecting people and books... Irresistible.” —Booklist “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 Rain “Readers who delighted in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and Letters from Skye will be equally captivated by this novel.” —•Library Journal, starred review
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Booklist Reviews 2014 February #2

In this sweet, uplifting homage to bookstores, Zevin perfectly captures the joy of connecting people and books. A. J. Fikry, the cantankerous owner of Island Books, is despondent after losing his beloved wife and witnessing the ever-declining number of sales at his small, quirky bookstore. In short order, he loses all patience with the new Knightly Press sales rep, his prized rare edition of Tamerlane is stolen, and someone leaves a baby at his store. That baby immediately steals A. J.'s heart and unleashes a dramatic transformation. Suddenly, the picture-book section is overflowing with new titles, and the bookstore becomes home to a burgeoning number of book clubs. With business on the uptick and love in his heart, A. J. finds himself becoming an essential new part of his longtime community, going so far as to woo the aforementioned sales rep (who loves drinking Queequeg cocktails at the Pequod Restaurant). 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. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

LJ Reviews 2014 February #1

A.J. Fikry is the owner of Island Books on Alice Island (think Martha's Vineyard) near Hyannis, MA. Over his porch hangs the faded sign "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A.J. is a young widower, struggling to keep the bookstore afloat and his increasingly lonely life intact. Matchmaking attempts by the islanders for Fikry have failed miserably. His prickly reactions to friends and customers have discouraged attempts to help him heal. Even the publishers' sales reps who call on the store cringe at his strident and curmudgeonly manner. Then one day A.J. discovers in his store a child abandoned by her mother, and his life takes a surprising turn. Maya is a bright and precocious two-year-old who steals his heart. As word spreads of his efforts at single parenting, the store becomes a community focus once again, and everyone takes a hand in raising young Maya—including a charming rep who had been so gruffly chased away. VERDICT 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.—Susan Clifford Braun, Bainbridge Island, WA

[Page 69]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

PW Reviews 2014 January #3

The only thing that's "storied" in the life of A.J. Fikry, a curmudgeonly independent bookseller, in this funny, sad novel from Zevin (The Hole We're In), is his obvious love of literature—particularly short stories. Fikry runs Island Books, located on Alice Island, a fictional version of Martha's Vineyard. It's a "persnickety little bookstore," in the words of Amelia Loman, the new sales rep for Knightley Press. Her first meeting with Fikry does not go well. He's disgruntled by the state of publishing, and bereft because his beloved wife, Nic, recently died in a car accident. Soon after the meeting, he suffers another loss: a rare first edition of Edgar Allan Poe's poem Tamerlane (Fikry's primary retirement asset) goes missing. But then Fikry finds an abandoned toddler in his bookstore with a note saying, "This is Maya. She is twenty-five months old." Somewhat unbelievably, Maya ends up in his care and, predictably enough, opens the irascible bookseller's heart. The surprisingly expansive story includes a romance between Fikry and Amelia, and follows Maya to the age of 18 before arriving at a bittersweet denouement. Zevin is a deft writer, clever and witty, and her affection for the book business is obvious. Agent: Doug Stewart, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Apr.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Fun Fiction

I'm not one for fiction, but decided to join the Westerville Book Club and this was the listed title. So I decided to give it a go. I am so glad I did! This story follows the life of A.J. a lonely Widower and is beloved book store. Just when you think you know where the story will take you, there is a turn in another direction and even a few twists. This is a fun fictional novel that will be a great read for the summer. I could not put it down and wanted more when I was done.


I enjoyed this book, but not enough to urge all of my friends to read it. Seemed like it skipped through a lot of time. I never connected with any of the characters. Full of literary references. I got most of them, but still several that I didn't.

the storied life of a j fikry

I just loved this story. warm believable characters. AJ comes to such realizations of what is important in life! way it is laid out with his chosen favorite stories for his daughter with his own notes... fantastic!

A small book about a bookseller. His sign says "NO MAN IS AN ISLAND; EVERY BOOK IS A WORLD." His love of books and how he uses them in his life is just wonderful. There is a little bit of mystery and a lot of humor in this book enjoy

Delightful and unsentimental

A short, quick read that surprised me with the depth of affection felt between flawed but likeable characters. A.J. Fikry's life story is told through the eyes of his adopted daughter, who in turn is using his letters to her to color the stories she's heard all her life. Funny and vivid, it will particularly appeal to people who like reading about the power of books and the institutions committed to promoting them.

A Perfect Vacation Read

A terrific book, and perfect for a weekend or vacation read for anyone who loves books and bookstores.

I didn't want it to end.

This is a story of friendship, loss, books, humanity and love. I didn't want it to end. - Debbie, Customer Services

An unusual style...

Holds the reader at arms length from the characters; felt a bit like eavesdropping, or like watching the story unfold in a snow globe. An unusual style that somehow worked.

hpl summer reading

If you love small, independent bookstores, this is the book for you. On a fictional island off the coast of Massachusetts, a young couple opens a bookstore. Then tragedy strikes. Can the bookstore survive? Find out by reading this book with its surprising characters and storyline.

Loved it!!

Loved it!!