The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin

Storied Life of A.J. Fikry Gabrielle ZevinThe Storied Life of A.J .Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin
Pub Date: April 1, 2014

Almost any book that is set in a bookstore or library is at least going to get my attention. Before I was a librarian I was a bookseller, so those two settings and professions pique my interest. If a book fails to portray library life or bookstore life properly, I practically throw it across the room. I’m very hard-nosed about this. When I heard about this book, featuring a curmudgeon of a book store owner on a small New England island who finds himself caring for an abandoned child, I figured I needed to give it a read. And it turned out to be one of my favorite books of 2014!

A.J. Fikry owns the only bookstore on Alice Island, and it’s revealed that ever since A.J.’s wife Nic, a native of the island, died in a car accident, the bookstore hasn’t been doing so well, and neither has A.J. But he has a relationship with books, and in particular a rare copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tamerlane that at least keep him a little grounded in reality, if a little more esoteric than those around him. (Every chapter in the book is named after a novel, along with a review by A.J.) If you’ve ever seen the show Black Books, A.J. is a softer version of Bernard Black.

Despite the fact that he loves books and owns a bookstore, A.J. does not particularly care for writers. He finds them to be unkempt, narcissistic, silly, and generally unpleasant people. He tries to avoid meeting the ones who’ve written books he loves for fear that they will ruin their books for him.

And then one day, returning from a run, A.J. finds that someone has left a toddler named Maya in his store with a note to take care of her. And suddenly A.J. finds himself a father. As the story progresses, the little town and grumpy bookseller who all miss Nic blossom with the effect of the little girl left in the bookstore. This is a book that has a plot that slowly reveals itself – you’re in it for the experience and the characters. And for all the bookish references that make this former-bookseller-turned-librarian take notice and smile. Personally, I enjoyed the appearances of the local police chief about as much as the rest of the book.

Not everything is peachy on Alice Island, and if you’re of a certain disposition you may shed a few tears by the end, but overall you’re going to fall in love with these characters, and relish watching A.J. develop as a person through the people around him. This is a sweet and tender book that makes it a *perfect* choice for book clubs. Very much a comfort read, and I am just fine with that. (Normally these kind of cozy reads aren’t my cup of cocoa, but because this is set in a bookstore with a cast of quirky characters, and well-written on top of that, I couldn’t put it down.) If you need a relatively quick read to give you some warm and fuzzies, that may also give you pause on the importance of family and service, I recommend The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry wholeheartedly!

Welcome, one and all!

I’ve been aching for the longest time to talk books with people on a regular basis. You’d think that would be pretty simple being a librarian, right? Wrong. People don’t ask me for reading suggestions. They ask about how to attach files to emails, or how to work the printer, or tell me all about their current medical woes and then ask me if we have books on aliens. I don’t get to talk books.

I’m also a happily practicing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I’ve been in a few short-lived Relief Society-based book clubs, some of which have asked for my professional assistance in picking books, while most have been happy to read whatever book by a general authority they can get for a good price on Amazon.

I’m surrounded by books all day. I spend a good portion of my week reading reviews and learning about new books to purchase. The intent of this blog is to take my religious life and professional life and combine them. I want to give LDS women (and men, no need to discriminate) books of good report to read that aren’t necessarily by LDS authors (though I don’t intend to *not* review those!). I want to let you know about new books that will hopefully inspire you, edify you, and give you a new perspective on life. I want to highlight literature that needs an audience. I hope I can achieve that with this blog.

Please feel free to comment or email with your questions. Are you looking for a particular kind of book? Let’s see if we can help you! Like a particular book (or movie) and want to read more books like it? We can certainly come up with suggestions! We hope our reading suggestions inspire you.