The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

“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

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.

Soon to be a major motion picture

Praise

  • New York Times, LA Times, USA Today, and National Indie Bestseller
  • #1 Indie Next Pick
  • #1 Library Reads Pick, and Library Reads Favorite of Favorites for 2014
  • Translated into 38 languages
  • Library Journal Top Ten Book of 2014
  • Booksellers Prize in the Category of Foreign Fiction (Japan)
  • Southern California Independent Booksellers Award for Fiction
  • International Dublin Literary Award Longlist
  • Selection of BBC Radio 4 Books at Bedtime
  • Goodreads Choice Award Finalist (Fiction)

“…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.” —The Toronto Globe and Mail

“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

“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

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

“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

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

“[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

“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 

“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

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

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

“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

“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 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

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

“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

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