A life in books – The Storied life of AJ Fikry

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“No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.”

Another cover of Gabrielle Zevin's books - is this not Island Books looks like in my mind's eye?
Another cover of Gabrielle Zevin’s books – is this not Island Books looks like in my mind’s eye?

If you don’t just take a book from a book case and start to read it, but take a moment to run your finger over the cover, read the blurb, feel the weight of it in your hands and even discreetly sniff the pages, then The Storied Life of AJ Fikry is for you.

For AJ Fikry is a heart-warming tale of love and how it shapes and makes people, how reading and books can be a haven and comfort in our lives – how we feel and how we live is often reflected in what we read –

My own life in books
My own life in books

A.J. Fikry gives his daughter advice in the terms of books. At the start of every chapter, there is a book title with a short paragraph of how AJhas used it to give advice to his daughter growing up. A kind of literary guide to life. A thrilling and lovely apt idea. For example the first chapter where he meets and reacts rather badly to a travelling sales rep by the story Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl and the arrival of an unexpected delivery to the shop by the tale of The Luck of Roaring Camp where a mining camp adopts a baby they call Luck. And Aj Fikry’s delivery is something that certainly acts as a good luck charm to him and all he knows.

Classic books with spines I can run my finger along
Classic books with spines I can run my finger along

The story in a nutshell –

A J Fikry owns a failing bookshop. At the same time he struggles with the loss of his wife and so starts to shut himself off from the outside world. One day a visitor to the bookshop leaves behind something he doesn’t quite know what to do with – something that will change him for ever.

This is quite a unique novel as it is not the plot which drives it but the characters – and not always the main character at that. It is about much more than plot and character – it is about books and the passion many people have for reading and the power that it can hold.

Nothing quite like the smell and feel of a good book
Nothing quite like the smell and feel of a good book

Talking about the necessity of encountering stories sat precisely the right time in our lives he tells us –

The things we respond to at twenty are not necessarily the the same things we will respond to at forty and vice versa. This is true in books and also in life.

Aj Fikry is quite the character – he owns a book shop but reels of a long list of books and book genres he doesn’t like as soon as the sales rep from a Knightly Press walks through the door to try and sell him some of their winter list. A funny moment and an insight into the life of a bookseller and a travelling book sales rep.

He rants that he doesn’t like certain genres, that he is repulsed by others – Literary should be literary and  genre should be genre and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying.

It is a book for readers about readers and booksellers. The bookshop here is the central character and its magic weaves through each and every page. You immediately want to go there and buy as many books as you can in order to save the store from closure.

Why we read

Why we love

Why sometimes we need a second chance

How reading and books change a person for the better

People tell boring lies about politics, God and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question; What is your favourite book? 

2 thoughts on “A life in books – The Storied life of AJ Fikry

    1. I loved this! A charming story about how books bring people together and give advice to those who read them. The chapters all start with quotes from books with advice to the characters and this was a lovely touch. I think the book comes out in April 2014. Put it on your list!

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