My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 3.97/5
First published: 1st April 2014
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: Adult fiction, contemporary, romance
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.
The above was taken from Goodreads.
This is definitely one of the best books I've read so far. It is about a bad attitude bookseller, whose wife has recently passed away, with a rundown bookstore. With the lost of his most valuable book and the discovery of an abandoned girl in his bookstore, slowly but surely, his life has suddenly evolved into a life changing but positive outcome.
AJ was full of sarcasm but with Maya in his life, he has become more witty and humane. And when he won Amelia over, I truly thought the book has ended like any other love story, with a happy ending but then... it turned a point and changed it's course! A little predictable with Ismay and Daniel's broken marriage but when the hints of Lambiase with Ismay turned out true... it was like 'finally a happy ever after' ending at last!
With the funny characters, it sure was entertaining... a light read with many human values. So relatable, so realistic that I could even imagined it on the big screen! I have those actor's faces in my head during my read but I can't recall their actual names, not even the movie or series they were on. Even with how AJ Googled on how to take care of a baby, everything was so relatable!
I liked that Gabrielle wrote without over elaborating or over exaggerating the story. Like when AJ was dying, she did not dwell on it too much... her prose was short and sweet yet subtle and sensitive enough to touch us. Hence it was an engaging book with the right recipe especially for book lovers. So many distinct and popular titles were mentioned, really had me wanting to list down those I've not read yet LOL!
Some distinctive familiar lines which I liked:
The first way Maya approaches a book is to smell it. She strips the book of it's jacket, then holds it up to her face and wraps the boards around her ears. Books typically smell like Daddy's soap, grass, the sea, the kitchen table and cheese.
"Do you like Moby Dick?" he asks.
"I hate it," she says. "And I don't say that about many things. Teachers assign it and parents are happy because their kids are reading something of quality. But it's forcing kids to read books like that that make them think they hate reading."
A sentence occurs to her: The day my father shook my hand, I knew I was a writer.
He will try again. He will never stop trying. "Maya, we are what we love. We are that we love."
"I don't know, Izzie. I'm telling you. Bookstores attract the right kind of folk. Good people like AJ and Amelia. And I like talking about books with people who like talking about books. I like paper. I like how it feels and I like the feel of a book in my back pocket. I like how a new book smells too."
It seemed so surreal reading this book, especially all those tendencies of a book lover elaborated with clarity like book smells and flipping of pages. I can just never get enough of those moments... never in my life have I thought of others who are like me... book lovers, book worms, book nerds, etc. I felt so at home reading this book, honestly. This is definitely a book written by a book lover for book lovers!