The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

storied life of aj fikry cover image The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

by Gabrielle Zevin
General Fiction
Algonquin Books
Hardcover, 272 pages
$24.95

Open the doors at bookseller AJ Fikry’s Island Books (where “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.") and find tragedy, comedy, romance, mystery, and more. Open this book and find an affectionate portrait of a curmudgeonly bookseller who faces loss through literature, with surprising results. While it may be simply written, and unlikely to dramatically change lives, we fell in love with these characters and their stories.

This book seems to have been written for those who truly love bookstores - those who spend time haunting the aisles of small independent bookstores wherever they can be found. Each chapter is named after a story that Fikry himself quickly reviews or summarizes. And so we get snippets from Roald Dahl, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor and J.D. Salinger. More than tributes, these brief passages provide Fikry an opportunity to philosophize on how his worldview is similar to or different from the story in question, and they frame each portion of the book very well.

We might also note that we may have loved this book simply because it is a small bookstore in a small town, with characters to whom can easily relate. Zevin has identified the day-to-day operations of a bookstore beautifully - even if it is describing the oh-so-exciting task of breaking down boxes after a delivery!