Chapter One

Page 3

“Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl can be found in The Best of Roald Dahl (Vintage).

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Page 6

Despite the fact that Boyd Flanagan’s favorite book is Principles of Accounting, Part II, he slightly mangles the title: it is Accounting Principles, Part 2. Although Amelia dislikes this answer, I appreciate his candor and his specificity. Why was Part II so much more important to Flanagan that Part I?

Page 8

Books featuring male characters (Humbert Humbert, Holden Caulfield, Misters Rochester and Darcy) that Amelia would never want as “life partners, boyfriends, or even casual acquaintances”:

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“No Man is an Island,”  the first half of the Island Books’ motto, is from John Donne‘s “Meditation XVII,” which can be found in Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. “Meditation XVII” is the most well known of all the meditations, and “No man is an island” is the most well known line from it. Nicole, A.J.’s first wife, is the writer of the store’s motto, and it serves as a gentle nudging from a wife to her introverted husband. She came up with the motto quickly; the painters were on the way, and something had to be put on the sign.

No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine

I named the store before I wrote the motto.

Page 9

Runaway or Dear Life are the likely candidates for the Alice Munro collection Molly Klock is reading. It depends on Molly’s definition of “new.” In my experience, most booksellers define new as from the current season, but Molly is a bad bookseller so her definition might be looser. If you only have time to read one Munro, I recommend you start with Runaway.

Knightley Press is, among other things, a reference to the male hero of Jane Austen‘s Emma.

Page 12

The Late Bloomer by Leon Friedman is NOT a real book. However, it was inspired by several books of fiction including:

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

Rules for Old Men Waiting by Peter Pouncey

In addition, I have always been fascinated by literary “fraud” stories, like A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, Doubled Flowering by Araki Yasusada, or the controversy around J.T. LeRoy. The Smithsonian Magazine has a short list that includes Frey and others.

Page 14

The Year Bombay Became Mumbai is not a real short story collection.

Page 16

Amelia takes a selfie with a plaque that commemorates “the summer Herman Melville had spent” on Alice Island. Alice Island is fictional, though I always tell people it is equidistant between Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. According to the Nantucket Historical Association, Melville wrote about Nantucket in Moby Dick before he had visited it:

In one brief chapter of Moby-Dick (1851), Chapter Fourteen, “Nantucket,” Melville wrote the definitive passage about the island without ever having visited its sandy soil: “Nantucket! Take out your map and look at it. See what a real corner of the world it occupies; how it stands there, away off shore, more lonely than the Eddystone lighthouse. Look at it—a mere hillock, and elbow of sand; all beach, without a background.”

You can read more about  the relationship between Herman Melville and Nantucket at the Nantucket Historical Association.

Page 18

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

A.J. is unfair in his characterization of Wallace’s essays. Wallace wrote manyextremely insightful essays. You can find  them in Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.

Page 19

Tamerlane and Other Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

Old School by Tobias Wolff – “an old favorite” of both A.J.’s and mine.

Page 22

“What a goddamn Danielle Steel move, Nic!” – I don’t know which Danielle Steel novel A.J. is referring to and I don’t think he does either. I have doubts about whether A.J. has even read a Danielle Steel novel.

Jeffery Deaver – Lambiase’s favorite Deaver might be The Coffin Dancer.

Page 23

“If this were Raymond Carver…” – A.J. is most likely thinking of the story “A Small, Good Thing,” which can be found in Cathedral.

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

Page 24 

“silly teenage girls prancing around Island in prom dresses”

Nic’s party is for the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, of course.

But is there a newsletter?

Book release dates, event news, words of note, and the occasional rumination on the meaning of it all. Delivered seasonally*.

*Sometimes, a season lasts two or three years. Long enough for you to forget who Gabrielle Zevin is, or why you signed up for this in the first place. You may unsubscribe at any time.

19 thoughts on “Chapter One

  1. Best book I have read since I was a kid. Imagine laughing as you read! Amazing! Do I really have to go by chapter for a list? I am rereading anyway, but still… I would like them all…you have a great future, kiddo. Thank you. Most fun I’ve had in years.

  2. I guess I’ll read Storied Life to enjoy it again and make a reading list as I go. It makes me miss, ‘damn it closed’ Duttons Bookstore (Los Angeles) more and disregard my Kindle as much as possible. I just won’t plug it in, unless I go on a round-the-world-trip!
    J. Tapper, book club member.

  3. I believe that Books will take the journey of Music LPs . They are back and going strong.
    And the Kindle and Nooks will loose their appeal. There is nothing like the feel and the smell
    of a good book. . new or old.
    Love AJ Fikry Maya and Amelia

    1. 🙂 In point of fact, I’m a slow but thorough reader. Not to mention, they publish a couple of hundred thousand books a year. What passes for well-read is to, perhaps, have read a few things well.

  4. I am enjoying The storied Life of A.J. Fikry and was very dissappointed that The Late Bloomer was not a real book. I was all set to see if the library had it

    1. We are discussing your book, G. Z. slowly, a few chapters at a time. You can find us here: Discussions. Love it! Ella

    2. I, too, loved this book. I searched Google to order the book and found this page, so now know it is not a real book. Perhaps you could write it! I look forward to reading your works and am so glad our librarian suggested this one for our Book Club. Can’t wait to the discussion.

  5. Did you take time to read Catcher in the Rye? Everyone says it’s such a good book. I was not impressed. I found it juvenile and offensive. But that’s just me.
    What is your take?

  6. I think you need to read Catcher in the Rye when you are in high school or as a young adult. I loved it when I read it as a young adult, but i’m 75 now and I don’t think I would appreciate it as much today.

    1. I too read it as a teenager (I’m 64 now), and recently re-read it. I loved it! It reached something in me, and I didn’t want to say goodbye to good ol’ Holden

  7. Darn! I was all ready to find The Late Bloomer by Leon Friedman! I’m skirting eighty and wanted to read it before it was too late. Anyway, I’m halfway through the Storied Life and love it.

  8. Loved this book and all its literary references. But how about the fact that Amelia’s last name is Loman. As a publishers rep, she can also be thought of as a salesman, as is that other traveling salesman Willie Loman — “Death of a Salesman.”

    1. Loved the book and plan on reading every book referenced there in. Did not know it was made into a movie but plan to rent it if possible.

  9. I came upon this book by way of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow. Love the humor and the play on words, references to things literary. I enjoy your characters, how flawed and lovable they are. And no, I never liked Holden Caulfield, even when I read JD Salinger in high school. He was one of those “geez, get over yourself!” And I do want to read The Late Bloomer by Leon Friedman. So please, create the book! 😜

  10. I absolutely loved this book and thank you for creating this site referencing all the reading gems. I was going to type the titles into my iPhone so I could read them but this site has saved me from having to recreate.

    As a young child, growing up in the country and often left to my own devices, reading became my world. Thursday was my favorite day when the book mobile would visit our small rural crossroads. I wanted to read every book in the library and bookstores top my list of favorite haunts. Oh to visit and hang out at Island Books. So glad to learn there is a movie! Keep writing!!

    I tumbled on this book after reading Tomorrow… which I adored. After scanning the list of other books you’d written this title intrigued me and sounded familiar. I actually had it in my collection!
    What a treasure.

  11. I had never heard of this movie but happen to select it while on a plane to San Francisco. So glad that I did! I loved everything about it and immediately went out and bought the book, which of course was even better than the movie! So disappointed to find out that The Late Bloomer is not a real book. I want to read it!

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