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The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  218,829 ratings  ·  29,029 reviews
On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

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 pr
Hardcover, 260 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Algonquin Books
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  218,829 ratings  ·  29,029 reviews

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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

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
May 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Alejandro by: Idarah
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 tha
Emily May
Dec 11, 2014 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 literatur
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
This is definitely a new favorite of mine! Such an incredibly charming story.
Jun 27, 2014 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
Kristin (KC)
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
*4.5 Stars* — because how can any bonafide book-nerd not adore this quirky and heartfelt tribute to literature!

I don’t know about you, but I could dwell inside the richly entertaining mind of one A.J. Fickry forever. Or at least every other weekend.

Because that’s exactly what this novel simulates: a casual stroll through the mind of a complex, yet vastly simple middle-aged widower whose outlook on life has deflated.

Life has knocked him down, as it tends to do, and A.J. finds comfort in th
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-books-ever
What can I say?
This novel was the ruination of me.. and I couldn't be happier. Sometimes when i love a book to pieces, it is easy to write a review and sometimes it is difficult. For this novel, the latter is true. I lack the adequate language needed to evoke the emotion that The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry stirred within me. You can't help but fall in love with the curmudgeon, bookseller A.J. I don't know if I've ever loved a character more than him. Although the plot was simplistic, the subtlet
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
Well shit this was good...

If you're looking for a fun summer read, a book that will make you laugh and cry, grab this one!

Just wish there wasn't a spoiler for The Awakening :/
May 10, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of John Green and Nicholas Sparks
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)
Always Pouting
I wanted to like this book, the writing was good and the characters were interesting but I just couldn't. I know that A.J. is the one being critical and snobbish about what entails good writing or literature but it just felt like I was being lectured to and god I resent being told what to do so much, also I think short stories are rarely good so I want to fight A.J. At one point also there's this passage about how if you see something mentioned in the beginning of the book you want it to come ba ...more
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
Dec 27, 2013 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
Apr 10, 2014 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 m
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 e
Merphy Napier
I'll start off by saying this isn't a bad book so I don't want to discourage people from reading it. It just did so many things that I didn't like.

What I did like:
- The writing is beautiful. Zevin had thoughtful prose and she had that slow, personal pacing that my favorite author, Fredrick Backmen has in his books.
- The characters were easy to fall in love with from the start, despite their (intentional) flaws. Getting invested in these characters and their stories was not difficult for me at
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
It's entirely possible that I'm as much of a curmudgeon as A.J. Fikry.

Reading a book about a bookstore and books and the people who love them seemed like a can't-miss proposition. And, in fact, there were parts of this book that I liked very much: the police chief who unexpectedly turns himself and most of his force into readers; the subplot with the theft of Poe's Tamerlane: Poem; the brief chapter intros where A.J. talks about various stories.

But overall the novel just felt a lot more superf
Mar 28, 2014 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



I can’t stop reading books about bookstores.

A book about a bookworm will do in a pinch, but really bookstores are the only way to go. And it’s gotten so grim that I’ve resorted to rereading books I read a few years ago and vaguely remember being pretty good but had no intention of rereading.

Luckily, in this case, it turned out to be better than pretty good.

I read this in between a couple of romancey fluffy things about bookstores, which really were more vessels fo
Maggie Stiefvater
Book on books, with additional books in the back upon request.
Whitney Atkinson
When people would say, "Every book lover needs to read this book," I always thought it was such a stupid basis to recommend a book off of. Just because a book breaks a fourth wall and presents a story about a fellow book lover doesn't mean it's better than any other book out there. But after reading this book, I get it. I get it so much. This book is for every book lover. And I will never shame someone for recommending it on that front ever again. This story will truly connect to people who live ...more
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
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
Jul 14, 2014 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
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 e

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
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
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
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is a 2014 Algonquin Books publication.

Thanks to my Goodreads friend, Carol, for introducing me to this book!

Alice Island’s Exclusive Provider of Fine Literary Content since 1999

“No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World”

This is the second ‘books about books’ novel I’ve read this week, and I have to say, it’s nice to know so many people share the same enthusiasm for books that I do.

This story is poignant and bittersweet, but is
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Book lovers of all ages and literary tastes
Recommended to Dolors by: Zevin
Shelves: read-in-2019
I don’t know how many times my eyes skimmed through this title in the last years, reminding me vaguely of how much I loved Margarettown in what seems like a lifetime ago, and how easily I discarded it, thinking I wouldn’t find it worthy after the more literary works I’ve come to read since I joined GR.
How arrogant of me.

This is a simple book to read. A page turner with short chapters, written in a fast, light-hearted prose that sounds so natural and easy-going that you’ll forget you are reading
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"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 books
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Sep 02, 2020 rated it did not like it
Add this to my list of unpopular opinions, I guess. This is complete and utter emotional manipulation disguised as a story.

I debated including this, but (view spoiler)
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GABRIELLE ZEVIN is an internationally best-selling and critically acclaimed author, whose books have been translated into thirty-eight languages.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry spent several months on the New York Times Best Seller List, reached #1 on the National Indie Best Seller List, was a USA Today Best Seller, and has been a best seller all around the world. A.J. Fikry was honored with the So

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