Saturday, January 10, 2015

Book Club Choice for January... The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I belong to a book club of women who enjoy reading a wide variety of books.   Each month we choose a different local restaurant, staying away from chains, and enjoy a night out.  No kids (maybe an occasional baby to satisfy those of us who are done with babies or haven’t had any yet), but definitely no husbands or boyfriends.  This is our book of choice for January.

Published April 1st, 2014 by Algonquin Books


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 prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, but large in weight. It's that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love. 

My Thoughts…

As the story starts A.J. Fikry is a lonely sad man. He has lost his wife and owns a book store that is barely making ends meet. He is extremely opinionated and never hesitates to tell whoever asks exactly what he thinks. I had a hard time connecting with A.J. Fikry. He was not a person that I liked, I did feel bad for him living such a sad life. As the story continues I begin to understand A.J. a little more. As people start coming into his life, I see him coming out of his sad world a little more. One thing that I always liked about A.J. is his absolute love of books, even if I didn’t always agree with his tastes.

My favorite thing in this book is the bookstore. I would love to find a small and hometown bookstore that stocks only books that will sell, but not always the most popular books. Imagine finishing a book, walking into your own home (which is the bookstore) and just picking up another. Never having to worry about what to read next. You can change your mind at a whim and pick up another book. That would be dream like to me. This bookstore seemed to bring in people, not just readers, but people who were looking after A.J. and the bookstore. People who cared about what happens to their town and want the bookstore to succeed. These people became friends and some even family.

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