Do you want to know why I know you’ll love The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry? Because you’re here. You’re the type of person that reads book blogs and you’re the type of person that’s intrigued enough about a book that you’ve searched the title in google and ended up here.
Now that we’ve determined that you love books, let me tell you why you’ll love this particular book in the words of Allyson Pearl (follow her on Twitter, she’s great), “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a love letter to books and publishing.” I wanted to include her quote because that’s exactly how I feel about the book and how many of my colleagues feel as well. Every person that I know who has picked up this book, has told me that it was a wonderful read. Okay, enough adjectives… let me share with you the premise of the book.
A.J. Fikry is having a rough go at life, his beloved wife has passed and it’s sent him into a spiral of unhappiness. He gets agitated easily, especially when he has to encounter other people. Of course, this poses a problem when you’re the owner of a New England bookstore named Island Books; their motto being, “No Man is an Island; Every Book is a World”. This independent bookstore is struggling financially, which of course is no surprise, but to top it off, A.J.’s prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen.
But things take a whole new direction when not only does he get a new sales representative from Knightley Press who’s determined to try to get him to try new books, but he wakes up one morning to discover that there has been a baby left in his bookstore. That is what I like to call a loaded sentence! It’s no secret that he doesn’t enjoy change, but when life throws you curve balls, A.J. quickly learns that sometimes change can be a good thing.
Filled with ups and downs of emotions; happiness, sadness, aggravation, this story not only hits you right in the feelings, but it has so many references to that feeling of being a book lover. I was very fortunate to get to go to the launch of Gabrielle Zevin’s launch back in late February at Ben McNally’s bookstore (which was the perfect location for this launch) and Gabrielle shared that she understands what it’s like to be a book lover, telling a story that as a child she sat for hours reading in her local bookshop. She wanted to write a story that spoke to that feeling of being a book lover; people who travel into a bookstore with the “idea” that they’ll buy one book, but end up walking out with four. People who know what it means to smell a book. To say that she tapped into that idea would be an understatement, because in my opinion, she nailed it. This book really is a gift and you’ll find yourself reading it and then passing it along to your friend or Mother in my case, because you know that they’re going to love it as much as you do.
My thanks to Penguin Canada for putting a copy on my desk and reminding me why I love books and how lucky I am to get to work with them every single day.
Check out this great Q&A with Gabrielle Zevin that Penguin Canada has shared on their website.