A.J. Books

A Guide to the Books and Literary References in A.J. Fikry

Click on the chapter title for the references in the corresponding chapter. Spoilers abound. Feel free to add your additions and thoughts in the comments.

Part I

Lamb to the Slaughter

The Diamond as Big as the Ritz

The Luck of Roaring Camp

What Feels Like the World

A Good Man is Hard to Find

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

Girls in Their Summer Dresses

Part II

A Conversation with My Father

A Perfect Day for Bananafish

The Tell-Tale Heart


What We Talk about When We Talk About Love

The Bookseller

61 thoughts on “A.J. Books

  1. Gabrielle,
    Just finished reading “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry”. What a wonderful book! I think it may become one of my very favorites! I’m a lifetime LOVER of books and reading!
    It all started as a child, being grounded to my room more times than not, and my older sisters’ Bobbsey Twins complete series, in the 1960’s! Been an avid reader ever since!
    I absolutely LOVED your book and can’t wait to read more of your books!
    Coincidentally my father, the punisher-to-my-room, passed away at age 54, my age today, of the same brain tumor as A.J. Fikry!
    And I also, refuse to use my E-reader! I love books! Thanks for an awesome story!
    Happy Holidays, as well!
    Tammy Roselle

    1. Hi Tammy, several years ago you wrote comments about A.J. Filry. I just finished the book last night and loved it. Mainly I wanted to tell you that my mom was the one who sent me to my room in the 40s. She said I didn’t mind being banished at all. I just used the time to read and seemed perfectly happy! 🤣. I also remember getting a book as a birthday gift for my ninth birthday and, while all the children went outside to play birthday games, I stayed inside on the couch reading my new book. Kinda still something I might do!

  2. I loved the book. I read it in June 2014. We have chosen it for our book club read this month. Looking forward to rereading it & can’t wait to see how everyone liked it & the discussion too.

  3. Received your book for X-mas, I started reading it 2 days ago and couldn’t put it down. It was a nice excuse to stay outdoors and read – a stolen pleasure- time to not think about the mounds of items that needed to be completed around the house-like taking down the X-mas tree.
    Thanks again, I truly enjoyed the book as I vividly pictured each character and loved AJ sense of humor.

  4. I gave your book to 17 friends for Christmas and then invited them to have dinner and talk about it tonight. I just printed out this list, and I think it will be fun to talk about what “our” books are. And, I’m serving coconut shrimp from Costco, of course. Thank you for this wonderful story.

  5. Loved this book! Loved the humor! I had just finished reading “All the Light We Cannot See”, so just was not expecting much when someone said – “the book is funny and an easy read.” The book has so much heart and the characters are so real and easy to connect with that I found myself just turning every page as quickly as possible, before I got interrupted by my life. I borrowed the book, but will go out and buy it today, so I can have my own copy.

  6. Thank you for a wonderful book. I bought it as a “beach read” on vacation, but it’s so much more than the fluff I so often lose myself in when I’m away from everyday life. I’m going to take the advice of Sunshine (posted Feb. 6, above) and gift this book to some of my friends who are avid readers. From there I hope to generate a discussion (at a party featuring Costco quiches) about books, authors, bookstores, and life.

    Again, many thanks for the gift of an enticing, engaging, thought-provoking and all around delightful book.

  7. I love it when I am pleasantly surprised by a chance book choice. This book was such a satisfying read. The character development and slow, predictable pace of A.J.’s softening pulled me in. I read in my browser, checked out from the library because there is not enough room in my house for all the books I read.

  8. I chose your book for my bookclub which will meet this week to discuss it. I loved it and because I wanted to promote all the chapter introductions, I found and bought all the books referenced. I will have each member read A.J.’s note to his daughter for the corresponding book. Thank you for such an enjoyable story. I shall be following you as an author.

  9. I read your book to my husband en route to Vermont to ski. It took longer than reading by myself but was so much fun to discuss as we went. We both really enjoyed your story, your characters, your references to other stories. Thank you for sharing your talent with us!

  10. The message is simple. A refreshing look at the world of bookstores, booksellers, and the people who still like to hold a book. I surprised myself in how touched by the ending. I was in tears. The ending was so “perfect” for such a book. Thank you for such a wonderful book!

  11. Gabrielle,

    I just heard you speak at the Critics Choice at Artis in Naples, FL. What pure joy it was to hear you talk about the creating your novel. Listening to you read several of the sections brought me to tears. The way you described AJ’s inability to express himself with words at the end touch me so deeply, I had the same experience with my mother. You are an exceptional woman, I look forward to enjoying many more wonderful reads from your writing. All the very best to you!!


  12. My God…….I am a late bloomer when it is about the road map books do create for living one,s life meaningfully. First book realizing how important “insights” from readers become.

  13. Just finished reading Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton. and both these books were wonderfully written. Go Gabrielles!!!

  14. I loved this book! An ecentric book club friend suggested this book for a summer read. No way!! It was too good. Must admit I have become a e-reader but only because I am old now and my eyes are dry and tired. Changing the light and the size of the print I can read easier and longer than with a book. I still keep all my books on the book shelf. I am so glad I read this book. The story really got to me. Thanks Gabriellis. I will certainly read more of you!!

    1. I’m with you, Marilyn on the ereaders. I use mine because it makes reading so much more comfortable with light and font. But if I love a book enough, I buy one for the shelf anyway. I LOVED AJ Fikry. My book club is discussing it tonight. I can’t wait.

  15. Loved the book and all the literary references has given me a new summer reading list. I was surprised that this website did not comment on Amelia Loman’s name as perhaps being inspired by the most renowned salesman in American literature – Willy Loman. Granted he had a more tragic ending but both this book and the play made me cry. Wonderful.

  16. What a lovely book… And so much wise thoughts and things to ruminate on. Thank you for sharing this book with us!

  17. I think this is the most beautiful book I have ever read (Brought me to tears toward the end). I loved it because like Mr. Lambiase, I was not much of a reader. I decided like 2 years ago that I would TRY to join an online book club to see if I could get into reading. The first book was The Storied Life of A.J Fikry and I found the book on Amazon (trial access). I began to read it and stopped around the chapter ‘The Diamond as big as the Ritz’ due to the fact that I would have to pay to read the remainder of the book. At the time I wasn’t really looking to purchase a book so I dropped the whole book club idea. Fast forward to 2015, around the holidays- I stopped by the library nearest to my home and decided to try to get into reading again. They told me about an app (overdrive) that allows you to read any book or listen to any audiobook they have available in the library and I decided to give this book another shot. I am so glad I did- I love the way the book progresses through each character’s life and fell in love with all the characters, even Daniel. I thought of him as a villain like the book states but I also saw the good in him like when he spent time with Maya when she was little and would make sure he wore a tie around her to show her that he was “at work”. Toward the end, I wondered if he figured out for himself that Maya was actually his daughter before he died. Such a clever book and I am now on a quest to read more books such as this! Thank you so much for that!!!!

  18. Gabrielle, “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” was the first book that I read of yours. It was given to me as a Christmas gift. I have been a heavy reader all of my life so could really relate to this story. Also, I have glioblastoma multiforme, so I was like, wow! I had a couple of surgeries, radiation and chemo, still doing chemo one week a month, and by the grace of God, it’s been 9 months and I feel great. Last MRI this week was clear. So, yes, this book of yours had humor, great storyline, heartwarming characters (except for Daniel Parrish), and a wonderful setting which reminded me of Chincoteague,VA. Well done!

    1. Debi, I hope this email finds you still feeling great. Glioblastoma multiforme has touched my life 3 times and every time I hear the words my heart breaks. Sending you light and love and hope for your future.

  19. What is the significance of vampires?

    Why doesn’t AJ have a driver’s license ?

    Preparing for black review.

  20. Is there a list of every book mentioned in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry? Just list not all the other info?

  21. OMG – Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!
    This is the of the best reading gift I’ve had in a long – long time.

  22. I would love to get a list of the books A.J. recommends to Maya and the books she mentions (I have a great niece who loves to read) within the text of the book. Is that list anywhere? Thanks for this book, I loved it!

  23. Hello,

    I just finished “The Storied Life…” More than loving the book, I love all of the books and stories you reference throughout. I’m always looking for a good book and there are so many out there, it is hard to filter through them to determine which ones are really worthy of my time. I clicked over to the Irwin Shaw short story, “The Girls…” on my iPhone and loved it!

    I plan to use the published list of books on this site as recommendations as I think we may have similar tastes.

    Thanks, and I look forward to reading more of your publications.

  24. Gabrielle:
    I just finished The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I still have tears in my eyes. Happy and sad.
    To say that I loved this, quirky, funny, bittersweet book is an understatement. To write anymore would feel like pandering.
    But I will say, I wholeheartedly agree with A.J.s mother on keeping up with technology, that has been my philosophy, since technology has prevailed.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  25. Read it on my kindle!!! I got a notification from amazon recomending it as a good read. I am so happy I decided to start it right at that moment. Otherwise, I would’ve never read it. Loved it!!!!!

  26. This is the first book in some time that I have really enjoyed. It was well written and I loved all of the characters. Wish I hadn’t read it so quickly, looking forward to reading more from the author.

  27. I too enjoyed this book more than most in a very long time. Oh, the power of words. I shall never tire of them.

  28. Fabulous novel. (Novella?) I’m headed to the local bookstore now. Hopefully, I will find something from A.J.’s list in large print.

    Also, is it A.J.’s or A.J.s? I feel it would be important to A.J to get that right.

  29. It is very repetitive to say I loved this book but yes, I loved it! So well written,Gabrielle. I notice almost all comments here are from women. Is that supposed to mean this is a «women’s book» (whatever that means)? I am a male and I enjoyed it enormously, a book about book-lovers for book-lovers. Warm, loving, but never sentimental. I could go on and on, but I’ll only add that Fikri’s story will remain one of my favorite books to recommend to just anybody with a love for books.

  30. I have never recommended a book in the more than three years that our group has been meeting, I never reread a book. The Storied Life of A.J.Fikry has changed both of those statements. I just led the discussion of Zevin’s novel today happily rereading it to be prepared. So often Fikry’s life observations resonated with us as if written by someone far older. Or we laughed at A.J.’s clever analysis of how a writer might structure a book paralleling Zevin’s own style. We were taken with the plot’s twists and agreed that this was a credit to the author, NOT “symptomatic of bad construction”. And we learned about the growing pains of the bookstore industry as it entered the technological age of reading options. All the while we sympathized, cheered, ached, and loved the characters whose lives changed and enriched each other’s. I will never forget this book – it deserves to be read, shared, discussed, and remembered.

  31. I’m really in love with this book for a lot of the reasons that people mentioned already – passion for small bookstores, the love of reading, the power of story, the beautiful relationships of the characters and how their lives intersect around books. I also was interested in the New England setting because I live in Massachusetts while at the same time being a transplant from the East Coast of Canada. A story that focuses on the seasonal comings and goings of people resonated with me because of the influx of people who come here to Cape Cod to vacation, but also because there is a very special coastal community on the East Coast of Canada (near where my family lives) where I can actually imagine this story happening. A book that shows the rich lives of people who live year-round in one of these towns was really beautiful for me to read. I will definitely be recommending this book to friends and family.

  32. I just finished your book. Great read. Loved the literary references! A wonderful book to read this spring in Minnesota!

  33. I just finished your book. Great read. Loved the literary references! A wonderful book to read this spring in Minnesota!

  34. I just finished your book. Loved the literary references. Great book to read this spring in Minnesota!

  35. I loved the book! I too started to read it and couldn’t put it down. It reminded me of visiting our old public library when I was young. I always loved reading. When I became an elementary school teacher i bought hundreds of books for my students i still can’t pass up the book box at a garage sale, even though I’m now retired. I love a book I can hold in my hand but also love my e reader.

  36. When my mother-in-law passed this along, I was skeptical. We have the complete opposite in tastes. She “did not care” for it. Of course I love it. She is averse to emotions, drama (good or bad), anything real, the list goes on. What a wonderful surprise! Consider me a new fan.

  37. Just finished The Storied Life of A J Fikry…what a jewel of a book. It warms my heart the way A Man Called Ove by F. Backman did. I’m 72, so maybe my love of curmudgeons stems from that (we old folks are often misunderstood). I have begun enjoying young adults books so I can share them with my granddaughters who are avid readers. Never expected to like them so much. Fikry’s heart and initially unexplored depth of feelings about life and people came alive through Amelia. Thank Goodness for her showing up in his life. Thank you for writing this book. The WORLD needs to read this book to learn a little compassion and to be more aware of the richness in other people’s life experiences and how books expand your horizons and enrich your life, even if you are a curmudgeon of any age. Books are powerful passkeys to a richer life and to understanding of how people are different but essentially the same. We all want to be understood, just as we are. Thank you again!

  38. Love the book. Read it twice, listen to it twice. I think reading his the most enjoyable way.
    We need more books by Ms. Zevin such as this.

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