The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

A Novel

Book - 2014
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The irascible A.J. Fikry, owner of Island Books, the only bookstore on Alice Island, has already lost his wife. Now, a rare book, has been stolen from right under his nose in the most embarrassing of circumstances. The store itself, it seems, will be next to go. One night upon closing, he discovers a toddler in his children's section with a note from her mother pinned to her Elmo doll: "I want Maya to grow up in a place with books and among people who care about such kinds of things. I love her very much, but I can no longer take care of her." A search for Maya's mother, A.J.'s rare book, and good childcare advice ensues, but it doesn't take long for the locals to notice the transformation of both bookstore and owner, something of particular interest to the lovely yet eccentric Knightley Press sales rep, Amelia Loman, who makes the arduous journey to Alice Island thrice each year to pitch her books to the cranky owner.
Publisher: Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2014
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9781616203214
Branch Call Number: FICTION ZEVIN 2014
Characteristics: 260 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

Join the discussion on December 15, 2018.

A.J. Fikry's life is turned upside down when he finds a toddler abandoned in his bookstore.

He starts out as a curmudgeon but transitions into a pretty great adoptive father! - Bob R.

When his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, bookstore owner A. J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life.

When his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, bookstore owner A. J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life.

From the critics

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Oct 24, 2018

A struggling book store owner A. J. Fikry lives alone until one day a package is dropped off...
a modern day fable about 2nd chances....delightful read

Apr 07, 2018

I loved this story and the characters. While not the usual genre you would call a "page turner", I did have a hard time breaking away from the book. The characters thoughts and the narrative of their actions showed them to be real people, with life experiences that made them who they were, at least in those moments. I enjoyed the development of the story and the interconnecting lines between the characters.
I also always love a a book that has an element of reading other stories and books as part of the story line. I wrote many of the short story titles down to check them out later.

TashD Mar 19, 2018

I have always loved characters who speak like we think. Although A.J's character starts off as grumpy and not very likable we learn about his life and quirky personality. The novel has a few surprises and laughs, its sweet and sad at the same time. I definitely recommend giving it a read.

DBRL_ReginaF Mar 11, 2018

I'm a big fat sucker for sappy books about books. I make no apologies.

ArapahoeJillK Feb 04, 2018

Lovely novel featuring lead character A.J. Fikry who grows as an individual, father, and friend while running an island bookstore. You will laugh and you will cry.

Feb 02, 2018

I loved "Young Jane Young" by this author so I was looking forward to reading another (earlier) book by this author.
While I continue to like her writing style here, the story line didn't captivate me personally. This book had a nice "grumpy" character start but--while charming in parts-- it wasn't enough to retain my attention. (I got distracted by another book about half way and never returned.) I could see other people enjoying this plot style, though,continuing on...and proving that I should've at least completed it!

Oct 12, 2017

Pleasant and charming. A fairy tale of sorts.

Librarian_Deb Sep 29, 2017

A.J. Fikry is an odd duck. He'a a reclusive owner of a bookstore with vary narrow literary tastes. He has isolated himself after the death of his wife. So when Amelia, a sale rep for a publishing house, calls on him to pitch their new winter line the meeting does not go well. But then something happens that changes everything for him. Actually two things happen - a priceless possession is lost, and a child comes into his life in the most unexpected way. Suddenly A.J. needs other people in his life, and the resulting changes as he learns to open up to others, care for a toddler, and love again are most satisfying to listen to. I definitely recommend this to book lovers who enjoy warmhearted stories

ArapahoeKati Aug 24, 2017

If you love to read about books and book stores, this novel will be your kindred spirit.

Jul 26, 2017

loved it

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ellensix Apr 09, 2018

How about I tell you what I don't like? I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magic realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn't be-- basically, gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful-- nonfiction only, please. I do not like genre mashups a' la the literary detective novel or literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying. I do not like children's books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer not to clutter my shelves with young adult. I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred fifty pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items, and, I imagine this goes without saying-- vampires.

ArapahoeAlicia Aug 09, 2016

The words you can’t find, you borrow.
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, he wants to tell her. Read these and know my heart.

JCLChrisK Sep 16, 2014

How to account for its presence [on this list of favorites] when I know it is only average? The answer is this: Your dad relates to the characters. It has meaning to me. And the longer I do this (bookselling, yes, of course, but also living if that isn't too awfully sentimental), the more I believe that this is what the point of it all is. To connect, my dear little nerd. Only connect.

JCLChrisK Sep 16, 2014

It is the secret fear that we are unlovable that isolates us, but it is only because we are isolated that we think we are unlovable. Someday, you do not know when, you will be driving down a road. And someday, you do not know when, he, or indeed she, will be there. You will be loved because for the first time in your life, you will truly not be alone. You will have chosen not to be alone.

JCLChrisK Sep 16, 2014

It's Amy's favorite. (She seems so sweet on the surface, no?) Amy and I do not always have the exact same taste in things, but this I like.

When she told me it was her favorite, it suggested to me strange and wonderful things about her character that I had not guessed, dark places that I might like to visit.

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?

Apr 29, 2014

The first way Maya approaches a book is to smell it. She strips the book of its jacket, then holds it up to her face and wraps the boards around her ears.

Apr 29, 2014

Her [Amelia's] talents also include multitasking, selecting the right wine at dinner (and the coordinating skill, tending friends who've had too much to drink), houseplants, strays, and other lost causes."

Apr 20, 2014

“Infinite Jest is an endurance contest. You manage to get through it and you have no choice but to say you like it. Otherwise, you have to deal with the fact that you just wasted weeks of your life,” A.J. had countered.


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Apr 18, 2015

Imagine being a bookseller on a small island off the coast of New England. This book opens with the publisher's marketing person trying to sell their new list to the bookseller and proceeds from there. A wonderful story about a curmudgeonly bookseller, the adopted daughter and the people who are affected by them and change the bookseller's view of people.

siammarino Jul 27, 2014

Set on Alice Island of the coast of Rhode Island, this is the story of a widowed bookseller, A J Fikry, who finds a toddler in his store when he returns from a run. She is Maya, and the note from her mother says that Maya is smart, verbal, and should grow up around books. Loved the setting, the unusual characters, the numerous book recommendations (esp. YA), and the belief in love overcoming all obstacles. The ending is sad, but with a funny twist. If you liked Mr. Penumbra's 24 hr. Bookstore, you'll like this.

A Prayer for Owen Meany
Silas Marner
Their Eyes Were Watching God
I Capture the Castle
The Beauties- Checkov
The Doll's HOuse-K. Mansfield
A Perfect Day for Bananfish-J.d. Salinger
Brownies or Drinking COffee Elsewhere ZZ Packer
In the Cemetary Where AL Jolson Is Buried A. Hempel
Fat R. Carver
Indian Camp e. Hemingway
Secret Life of Octavian Nothing

Chief's Choice Book Club:
Jeffrey Deaver


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