A.J. Fikry

Fikry PB FIkry US

A New York Times Best Seller, the #1 Indie Next Pick, and the #1 Library Reads Selection

An international best seller, translated into 32 languages

In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books—and booksellers—that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.  

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.

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April 2014

See Me on Tour

A Library Journal Top Ten Best Book of 2014

Winner, Booksellers Prize in the Category of Best Foreign Fiction (Japan)

Winner, Southern California Independent Booksellers Fiction Award

Longlisted, International Dublin Literary Award

“This novel has humor, romance, a touch of suspense, but most of all love–love of books and bookish people and, really, all of humanity in its imperfect glory.” —Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry reminds us what saves us all from a life of loneliness and isolation: our sense of empathy; our ability to love and be loved; our willingness to care and be cared for. Gabrielle Zevin has written a wonderful, moving, endearing story of redemption and transformation that will sing in your heart for a very, very long time.” —Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is a breezy, big-hearted treat, especially if you’ve ever wondered about the inner workings of America’s national treasures–neighborhood bookstores.” —Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins 

I read this book in one big greedy gulp. A charming and funny love letter to the written word – it will leave you smiling and with a large lump in your throat.” —Natasha Solomons, author of The House at Tyneford

“Zevin has done something old-fashioned and fairly rare these days. She has written an entertaining novel, modest in its scope, engaging and funny without being cloying or sentimental. On top of all that, it is marvelously optimistic about the future of books and bookstores and the people who love both.” —The Washington Post

…a powerful novel about the power of novels, but there is nothing outsize or metatextual about it, no cloying literary in-jokes or philosophical digressions: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a book for people who love books, who recognize a story well-told for what it is, and for the power it contains.” —Robert J. Wiersema, The Toronto Globe and Mail

“Fikry and his motley group of friends and family are easy to cheer for. . . . Much like Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, this book could easily become a dark-horse bestseller. It is, after all, quite charming.”Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A beautiful story about getting a second chance at love. A-” —The A. V. Club 

“A love letter to the joys of reading.” —NPR

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry has a little bit of mystery and a little bit of romance, but is at its core a love story: love of books, love of family, love of community. It is as enchanting a book as you will read this year.”BookPage

This is not a novel to miss. If you love books, old bookstores and perfectly human characters living ordinary lives, you will love this book. As a matter of fact, I think I just may have to read it again.”—The Roanoke Times

“Anyone who loves books, bookstores and the world that reading opens up will love this book.”—The Wichita Eagle

“Wade into summer reading with this sweet yet soulful tale of love, loss, the power of friendship–and books. Like sunshine on a breezy spring day, you won’t want it to end.” —Family Circle 

“[A] jaunty little novel.” —Entertainment Weekly

Zevin…is in fine form with a memorable tale about life, love, risk-taking and growth.”—Lansing State Journal

Funny, tender, and moving, it reminds us all exactly why we read and why we love.”—Starred, Library Journal

“In this sweet, uplifting homage to bookstores, Zevin perfectly captures the joy of connecting people and books . . . Filled with interesting characters, a deep knowledge of bookselling, wonderful critiques of classic titles, and very funny depictions of book clubs and author events, this will prove irresistible to book lovers everywhere.” —Booklist

“Surprisingly expansive… Zevin is a deft writer, clever and witty, and her affection for the book business is obvious.” —Publishers Weekly

“Sometimes funny, sometimes true to life and always entertaining . . . A likable literary love story about selling books and finding love.” —Kirkus Reviews

“I don’t appreciate the position I’m in with The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I resent the skill and verve that Ms. Z. shows in this quirky, punchy novel. I don’t like that it’s so readable, so appealing. I disdain its damnable charm, its succinctness, its crisp, clear tone! AAAUGH! . . . VERDICT: This lightning fast read is super-enjoyable; hide it inside a Popular Mechanics.” —Library Journal‘s Books for Dudes blog

fikry on audio

Listen to the audiobook, read by Scott Brick


“Barbara Hoffert Talks to Gabrielle Zevin; April LibraryReads | Spotlight” – An interview about A.J. Fikry for Library Journal

US: Algonquin

Canada: Penguin

UK: Little, Brown (as The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry)

Brazil (Companhia das Letras), Bulgaria (Kragozor), China Simplified (Dook), Croatian (Lumen), Czech (Argo), Denmark (Lindhart og Ringhof), Finland (Gummerus), France (Fleuve Noir), Germany (Diana/Random House), Hungary (Agave), Iceland (Forlagid), Indonesia (Gramedia), Israel (Keter), Italy (Nord),  Japan (Hayakawa), Korea (Munhakdogne), Latvia (Baibabooks) Netherlands (Atlas/Contact), Norway (Silke), Poland (GW Foksal), Portugal (Self), Romania (Nemira), Russia (Sindbad), Serbia (Laguna), Spain (Lumen), Sweden (Forum), Taiwan (BWP), Thailand (Amarin), Turkey (Timas), Ukraine (Vivat), Vietnam (IPM)

Book Trailer (Italian!)

86 thoughts on “A.J. Fikry

  1. I’m listening to this on BBC radio 4’s Book at Bedtime slot and it’s brilliant. The next episode is tomorrow night. I’ll have to get the book and read it unabridged!

  2. This is a story that should only be read by holding a book in your hands… one with a cover and pages. It has joined the ranks of 4 books (now 5) that I have read… books that I will buy and give to my friends and insist they read. No one has ever complained.

  3. Last night I finished reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry trying not to wake my husband with my crying and sniffling. I immediately got out of bed to text my book loving friends to go get it immediately! Honestly, this morning, I started reading it again- something I never do. Loved this book!

  4. My husband heard the review and of the Storied Life of A.J.F. on public radio and thought I would love novel. I read it within 24 hours, and I do love it. I also love your characters dearly. I am sad it is over, but thrilled by the free gift with purchase: the many recommendations within your beautiful novel. I even borrowed American Gods from the library, which you mentioned in your Acknowledgements. (I only read the acknowledgements when I can’t bear to admit a book is over). Thank you!

  5. Really enjoyed this novel. Sad but so sweet at the same time. Loved the characters. Now I need to go reread the stories mentioned in the book.

  6. I just finished reading this very special book and I still have tears in my eyes. What a wonderful homage to lovers of books, words, turning pages and stories. I’m sure every independent book store in the world thanks you for this book.

  7. I’m a bookseller since last October in Argentina. Even though all my life was acompanied with books either because I went to the library or I had to study them for my literature classes, everything is new to me. Everyday, I find myself loving and admiring books . That’s why I read this one which has actually touched my soul. I just finished it, and I’m going over it again, to write down all the quotes and passages that inspire me and make me love even more my new life as a bookseller. Thank you so much for encouraging all these fellings in me.

  8. Wonderful read & couldn’t put it down until I just finished the last word. I do object to the feel of the hard copy COVER. It feels soft and almost sticky. I had to take it off to read. Thought you should know this for next time. I have the cover in Canada depicting a father & daughter staring at the night sky. But inside was a revelation & I just loved your writing.

    1. Thank you! I’m delighted that you enjoyed the inside despite the “stickiness” of the cover. I’ve heard of judging books by their covers, but I think this is the first report of judging (or not judging as it turns out) a book by the FEEL of its cover! I’ll have to go fondle one of my Canadian copies now. —Gabrielle

  9. I’ve been an avid reader since I was a kid, so I’m pretty choosey with the books I read, and I like reading things from authors I already like. (after all, every book you read changes you a little on the inside (: ) I loved Elsewhere as a kid, so it was like a Christmas when I got a copy of A.J. Fikry. The book was filled with hope and love, melancholy and triumph, and it was perfect for a book-lover. Its one of those books that leave you thinking about it weeks, months after you’ve finished it. Zevin is up there with all my favorite authors (Kingsolver, Atwood, Steinbeck) and as an aspiring writer I can only hope my books one day can have a similar effect on people.

  10. I am sorrily, not an avid reader. So many books get started and die the death of under 50 pages read. Not so with A.J. Fikry. I consumed this book like a box of chocolate truffles, savoring every paragraph. Thank you for the experience. Thank you peppering the pages with so many treats. Do you have a list of the novels referred in the story? I think I’d like to give some of them a try. I had to give the copy I had back to the library. Funny how they are such sticklers for returning what one borrows. I suppose I could buy a copy. I think it would be a wonderful addition to my small collection. But . . . if you have compiled such a list, I would be appreciative. .

  11. This is a true book lover, word nerd, book store goer’s novel. I felt so much kinship to fellow book lovers in this novel. It was such a sweet and sad storyline, but so well done I thought. Once you understand why AJ is writing those excerpts about books between chapters it just breaks your heart. Loved it.

  12. What is the CS Lewis quote that Jacob Gardner has tattooed on his wrist? (p 257) I loved this book! Thank you.

    1. I am wondering the same thing. 🙂
      I loved this book, too! It was chosen for me by my four-year-old daughter as a birthday gift. Perfect.

  13. This was so lovely. I feel like I am in a state of grief from having finished it. I never wanted it to end. There was so much truth, and beauty. There was humor too, and lightheartedness, which is why I am surprised that I am so devastated. This one will be with me always.

  14. I never had a favourite book, I realised quite in the beginning of reading this book, as I read about how a persons favourite book tells so much about her. I wondered what that said about me. Even before I finished it, I knew that now I do: the storied life of A.J. Fikry. Thank you for giving me my favourite book!

  15. This is a lovely, thoughtful, many-layered gem of a book. I wish I had had the imagination to write it! But thank you. Apart from the pleasure and satisfaction of reading it, you’ve given me things to think about in my own writing.

    Question: how come the hints of Indian heritage in AJF?

    dilip d’souza (Bombay, India)

  16. Pingback: True Love | Stuff
  17. Just finished your book and really loved it. I am sad that it is over. Will definitely suggest it as our next book club selection. Thank you for writing it! Good luck for the future!

  18. I’m confused. I am finding a title, “The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry” as well as “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry”, both by Gabrielle Zevin. Is the first the compilation of books discussed in the second title?

  19. I am very excited to be discussing The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry with our Books and Beans adult book discussion group from the the River Falls Public Library on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. The best part about this discussion will be that we are holding the meeting in a small, local family-owned bookstore that is very reminiscent of Island Books. The great thing about this discussion is the fact that it wasn’t planned that we would be discussing a book about a bookstore in a bookstore, it just happened and was meant to be! Thank you for making the world a better place by inviting us into your world of writing. Heather

  20. I have just finished reading your lovely book this very minute and all I can say is “you broke my heart”. I could not put it down from the moment I started reading it and I am now going to go back to the parts I liked best. The ending broke my heart -how I bought it I cannot understand but this book will be by my side for next few months. I never wanted it to end. It never expected it to end as it did – there was happiness and there was sadness and it has left me with so much to think about. Thank you so much.

  21. Hi! I just wanted to tell you that I loved this book. I’m a high school teacher, and I just fought to get A.J. Fickry on our summer reading list. It is on the final round of votes, so it’s almost there! Elsewhere was on our optional curriculum, and I love it, so I had to read your latest. I loved A.J. Fikry even more. Thanks! I’m looking forward to whatever you write next!

  22. Hi Gabrielle ;
    Elaine from Beijing China here. I just finished your The Storied Life of A.J.Fikry. I love your story. It doesn’t look like a novel to me, but a real life story. I believe in Jesus, and I believe he won’t let any one of us in the world as a lonely island. I am already a book reading fun, but you give me a solid reason to make my study room fully prepared for my baby. And I do believe in the word A.J. wanted to say to his little girl– love.
    Thanks again.
    P.S. I like your dog, I have a Chihuahua and a Corgi at home;)

  23. Love everything about this. Love of books, community, love between adults and children, passion. Can find influence of great authors in this novel. Easy to read. So wonderful managed it in 2 days. Also I have a little Maya. Great choice of name! Thanks for snippets of other reads which readers will savour. We red more independent small book shops in communities!

  24. I’m hosting our LIbrary bookgroup (Bon Air Bookies) and when looking for cover artwork came accross the one for “The Collected Workd of A.J.Fikry” was the name changed?

  25. Dear Ms. Zevin,
    I really liked your book “The storied life…”, thank you for that wonderful journey! I cried at the end.
    Since I am a trained bookseller myself, I was even more happy about it.
    Many greetings from Germany! I look forward to reading all of your books…

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