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The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

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3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  93,138 Ratings  ·  15,214 Reviews

In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books--and booksellers--that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage

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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Algonquin Books
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The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk KiddAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle ZevinOne Plus One by Jojo MoyesTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Book Group Worthy Titles for 2014
3rd out of 364 books — 1,461 voters
The Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsBig Little Lies by Liane MoriartyAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrMe Before You by Jojo MoyesGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
What Women Born In The 1970s Read In 2015
15th out of 6,209 books — 1,252 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Delee

5+

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.

Once in a while a book comes along that captures your heart and soul- where the characters become like friends and family, and a part of you wants to pack a bag and travel to that magical place forever. At the start you just know it is going to be something special- by the end you feel physical pain knowing that these people are gone from your life...One day you may pick it back up to
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Rebecca Foster
I’m starting to think I’m the only bibliophile on earth who didn’t care for this book. After everything I’d read about it, I didn’t think it could possibly fail to be fantastic. For me, though, it tips way too far into chick lit and YA territory, and succumbs too often (and too early) to schmaltz and melodrama.

Now, there are certainly some good points. A.J. himself, an independent bookseller and just-coping widower, is a delightfully irascible character with some decided literary prejudices that
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Alejandro
Jun 11, 2015 Alejandro rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Alejandro by: Eve
Every word the right one and exactly where it should be. That's basically the highest compliment I can give...

...and I am truly glad that it didn't took me so long to read it!!!

The words you can't find, you borrow...

Maybe I could find the words but honestly, that first quote from this wonderful book was the right way to compliment it. And to do that, well I quote a second one too.

And you will find several quotes in this review since honestly, this is one of the most quotable novels that I
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Emily May
Dec 16, 2014 Emily May rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, 2014
"There ain't nobody in the world like book people."

It's a bit embarrassing to admit how emotional this book made me. I'm not even a fan of Zevin's work; I quite liked the concept behind Elsewhere but not the execution, and I pretty much hated All These Things I've Done. But this book is just so warm and funny and bittersweet. It speaks to the thing inside me that has always loved books, will always love books, and has allowed my life to be swept in certain directions by my love for literature.
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karen
Jun 22, 2015 karen rated it really liked it
A town isn't a town without a bookstore.

while it's true that this is the literary equivalent of a stone skipped over a pond, it's a pretty damn charming stone. reading about other booknerds, even when they are better described as bookcranks, is delightful to me. A Novel Bookstore, Salamander, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, etc are among my favorite books. are they the best books ever written? nah. but they have characters whose sensibilities are so close to my own, it's hard not to feel a lit
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Ann
Thank you to the publisher for an advance reading copy.

I shouldn't have read this. A book marketed as "heartwarming" is never for me. But I read it anyway because I love books about books so much, and it sounded so good! Based on the book's description and marketing, I know that it's meant to really appeal to book clubs and librarians and bookstores, and I think the author is doing everything humanly possible to kiss up to those groups without delivering anything with any depth. I don't think it
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Ariel
Dec 07, 2014 Ariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


This was really lovely. It was perfectly written (seriously, Gabrielle Zevin has mastered using the English language), and heartfelt. It was a little sappy at times, but it felt appropriate. I loved the span of this book - over a decade of fascinating stuff happened. And I loved the setting - a book store on a tiny island. I loved the emphasis on books and love and trying to be a good person.

I'm not giving a 5/5 simply because I don't think it did anything particularly new, and didn't make me t
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Carol
Dec 27, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing
There's joy in my heart and a skip in my step today after closing the last page of this jewel of a book. A must for book lovers and booksellers alike, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is an affirmation of the love of books and reading and how they meld lives together.

A.J. Fikry, is the owner of the independent bookstore, Island Books. Fikry is grieving the loss of his wife, sales are down, a rare book worth scads of money is stolen from the shop leaving him irritable, and irritating. Frankly he's
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Diane
Jan 08, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it
This is not a perfect novel, but it is filled with bookish charm and easy grace.

I picked up The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry at just the right time. I wanted something light and entertaining, and (hopefully) with a happy ending. And that is what I got, with the bonus of lots of literary references, some small-town whimsy and even a little romance.

A. J. Fikry is a cranky bookstore owner in New England. His life is in a rut: He lost his wife, his store is struggling and then his rare copy of Edgar
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
I love getting books from Netgalley. You never know what you are going to get. It might be a complete dud or it might be something like this book. A book that sweeps you up. A book that makes you want more. I sit up tonight reading this because I just couldn't stop.


AJ Fikry is a snarky man who owns a bookstore. Every bookworm's dream, and he is a major bookworm. "Despite the fact that he loves books and owns a bookstore, AJ does not particulary care for writers".
AJ has a rare book worth enou
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Carmen
Jun 11, 2015 Carmen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of John Green and Nicholas Sparks
Recommended to Carmen by: Library
This is the most precious, adorable, cutesy-wootsey bunch of tripe I have ever read in my life. How is this book so popular? It's cliché after cliché after cliché ad nauseam. Ugh.

A grumpy-grumpy bookseller who is a widower leads a sad and lonely Scrooge-like life until a chubby, perfect, articulate, beautiful baby is left in his book shop and teaches him to love and live again! Excuse me while I go vomit in the corner. Then to top it all off (view spoiler)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
3.5 stars

This is a story to be read solely for the nerdistic cachet of getting all the literary references and book biz jokes. Even if you're alone and there's no one to applaud you for being so well read, there's still that little frisson of snobbish self-satisfaction when you recognize the book or short story mentioned or alluded to. And when you know which books and authors are made up, because you've never heard of them. Am I really that much of a book dork that I give a rodent's posterior a
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Nataliya
Mar 01, 2015 Nataliya rated it really liked it
Unexpectedly and unabashedly charming. Cozy, sweet and life-affirming and yet somehow avoiding the overt sentimentality, managing to remain quietly refreshing and, again, charming in the nicest meaning of that word.
"The most annoying thing about it is that once a person gives a shit about one thing, he finds he has to start giving a shit about everything."
It's a lovely quiet story about the way a life of a lonely and surly bookseller on a remote New England island gets turned around when he un
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Eve
May 23, 2014 Eve rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, read-2014
"A question I’ve thought about a great deal is why it is so much easier to write about the things we dislike/hate/ acknowledge to be flawed than the things we love." – A.J. Fikry


I stayed up late last night to finish this book, and hoped that by the time I woke up this morning, I'd have a clear idea about why and what I loved most about this book. I'm still at a loss for words because I love every single part of this book!

Fittingly, it was recommended by the owner of a tiny independent booksto
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Carol
Don't you just love reading a book that you can't wait to get back to, a book you want to savour yet must keep on reading. This UNPUTDOWNABLE delightful story about a charming little bookstore (and so much more) fit into that category for me. It combines laugh-out-loud moments with an occasional need for a tissue, engaging characters with real life problems and a twist or two along the way.

Another 2014 favorite for this book lover!

(It pains me that we are losing our beloved bookstores. I do enj

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Michael
Dec 16, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it
Close to gem status but likely a bit saccharine for some. Still, I loved how a lonely curmudgeon using books to escape life gets turned around to using them to connect to people. A.J. Fikry seems to have painted his life into a corner, running a bookstore on a fictional island off Cape Cod. Someone leaves an infant girl, Maya, in his store, and she melts his cold heart.

A.J. watches Maya in her pink party dress, and he feels a vaguely familiar, slightly intolerable bubbling inside of him. He wa
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Lisa
Dec 02, 2014 Lisa rated it did not like it
Shelves: buddy-reads
I remember being ten years old and all my friends really loving New Kids on the Block. I watched them all go crazy for it and I wanted in on this amazing, musical lifestyle. So I begged my mom to buy me the tape and she finally did. I listened to it on my purple boom box the whole way through, side A and side B. And when that tape ended I knew I was in a big pickle because.... I didn't like it.

You know where this is going.

So the next time we were all together, I worked up the nerve and confessed
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Debbie
Aug 11, 2014 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A friend’s 7-year-old daughter once told her, “Mom, you need a trip to paradise.” I wish my kid had said it to me, but never mind. I’m taking it to mean, “Mom, you and Debbie need a trip to paradise.” Well, holy shit, I found it! Island Books, the setting for this book, is located smack in the middle of paradise.

I purposely didn’t read any reviews before diving in, and I’m glad. Strange and wonderful things start happening right from the beginning, and I’m caught off guard and delighted. I thoug
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helen the bookowl
Mar 05, 2015 helen the bookowl rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that have been getting so much hype that you start wondering whether you're going to like it yourself. I knew this story was for book lovers, but I started reading it with mild scepticism.
However, it didn't take more than 1 1/2 page for the story to win over my heart. This book is magic and I still can't believe how much it has affected me as a reader. "The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry" is a story about book lovers, and it is a story FOR book lovers. That's because it
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Shannon (leaninglights)
What an unexpected delight. I picked up this book randomly off my shelves and read it in almost one sitting. It was light and relatable while delivering a powerful prose about the meaning of life, literature and family. This is a must read for every book lover - we all have a little Fikry inside of us :)
Britany
Jan 18, 2015 Britany rated it really liked it
My heart loves this book. For everyone out there who thinks reading is boring, or unfulfilling, I want to throw this book at you. This book perfectly sums up what it feels like to LOVE reading, to LOVE books, and everything that goes with them. The smells, the pages turning in your hands, the excitement over new releases, the genres, I could go on and on...

I would love to live on Alice Island and get to live in this fictional town. AJ Fikry has lost his wife and his most prized possession and su
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Brendon Schrodinger
Did I just read the latest rom-com starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks that completes the Sleepless in Seattle Trilogy? I haven't actually watched any of those movies (I swear) so that comment could get shot down in flames by an army of red wine drinking, middle-aged women. And that line may seem a bit stereotyped and sexist. Oh god, I'm really digging a hole I may never be able to get out of.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is about the storied life of A.J. Fikry. I feel like I should abandon this re
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Diane S ⛄
Apr 17, 2014 Diane S ⛄ rated it really liked it
This book was a pure delight. Fikry is an embittered bookstore owner, having lost his wife in an accident, he has lost faith, even lost his love form literature. He is rude and brisk, owns a bookstore but dislikes authors. He has very definite tastes in reading material, has no use for children's book, his store has only a very small collection despite the fact that summer people with children make up the bulk of his business.

Enter Maya, a two year old who will worm her way into his heart and ma
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Christina
Nov 28, 2015 Christina rated it it was amazing
" A place ain't a place without a bookstore. "

5 Stars!

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 it's history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, it's unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over - and see everything anew.

" There ain't nobody in the world like book people. "

So I didn't really read
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Arah-Lynda
Jan 21, 2015 Arah-Lynda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Arah-Lynda by: Ivonne Rovira
Shelves: i-said
King and Kipling got it right.

Words have weight.

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.


On Alice Island A.J. Fikry is surrounded by words. Millions of them. But even they have failed to lift his spirits. He is deep in mourning the loss of his wife, his partner in Island Books, when we first meet him. He is also very rude to Amelia, the lovely sales rep from Knightley Press.

He is equally unaware that further loss will occur, this time in the form of a rare and valuable copy
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Ivonne Rovira
Jun 19, 2014 Ivonne Rovira rated it it was amazing
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?

So says A.J. Fikry, the titular protagonist of Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. And it’s true. I know that readers marry non-readers, but I’ve never understood how such a union could work. What could you discuss with someone who never imagined that, before it was an over-the-top Baz Luhrman movie with Leonardo DiC
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Algernon
May 05, 2015 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2015

Don't ever get to the point where you expect the worst from people all the time.

I am no longer surprised to see some of my favorite books getting thrashed with one star reviews. I did the same with other people's choices that didn't work for me. I take issue though with the claim that this present book in particular is cutesy and unrealistic about relationships. What it does is to believe in and to make an appeal to our better nature, believes we are redeemable and that the world can be change
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☯Cathrine
Aug 19, 2015 ☯Cathrine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a delightful surprise! I would like to thank my GR friends for pointing the way to this little jewel. It was not too long, it was not too short. It was just right. "Every word the right one and exactly where it should be." It had to have been crafted for anyone who loves the world of books. "But he loves books, has always loved books. He believes that they saved his life." Indeed. Perfect for curling up anywhere and getting lost and found.
Ash Wednesday
Jun 07, 2014 Ash Wednesday rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: John Green fans who also enjoyed Despicable Me (outside the minions)
4.5 STARS
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. Read these and know my heart.
We are not quite novels.
We are not quite short stories.
In the end, we are collected works.

This is going to be a tough one to talk about for me because it went straight to my favourites shelf and, as this book has stated in not so few words, its always easier to talk about what we hated than what we loved.

In truth, there w
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Melki
I do not believe in God. I have no religion. But this to me is as close to a church as I have known in this life. It is a holy place. With bookstores like this, I feel confident in saying there will be a book business for a very long time.

There are already thousands of reviews of this book, so . . . I might as well add another one.

By now you know that the book concerns a prickly widower who is coaxed back to life again by family, friends and the patrons of his bookshop. It's corny and sappy a
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Gabrielle Zevin has published six novels. Her debut, Margarettown, was a selection of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program. The Hole We’re In was on Entertainment Weekly's Must List and was a New York Times Editor’s Choice. Entertainment Weekly wrote, "Every day newspaper articles chronicle families battered by the recession, circling the drain in unemployment and debt or scra ...more
More about Gabrielle Zevin...

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“Sometimes books don't find us until the right time.” 752 likes
“You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book? 383 likes
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