Summary from Goodreads:
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.
This is a book about books. More particularly, this is a book about short stories. And I’ve embarked on a short story journey on the same month that I chose this book as one of my required readings for the month. Isn’t that a lovely coincidence?
Admittedly, there is nothing new about the plot or its characters. In fact, I am inclined to say that everything in this novel — from the storyline to the dialogues to the quotable quotes — they are all cliche. I wasn’t even sympathetic over A.J. or Amy or of their love story. And that ending wasn’t exactly the kind of ending that wowed me. In fact, the ending is the only thing that has smeared my appreciation for this book. But the thing is, despite its “ordinary-ness”, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry still made me feel a sweet satisfaction after I was done reading. It was fun, and light, and sweet, and nerdy. I loved it especially because it is nerdy. It is so nerdy, I want to cry. For joy. And give all my bookish friends bookmarks as a token of my appreciation.
There are lots and lots of things that I can easily relate to in the story, and almost all of them are about books and authors and book clubs. Reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry made me feel that I am doing things right in this world by reading books and gushing over them. It made me feel that I am a normal human being even if most of my Facebook and Instagram photos are of books. There are so many instances that I found myself saying “Oh, yes, I read that book!” or “Oh, that’s an intriguing story. Taking note of that” and several other bookish exclamations that only a nerd like me can easily relate with. Also, I have kept note of all the short stories mentioned at the beginning of each chapter and I plan to do a sort of reading challenge of regularly reading one until I finish all of them.
I refuse to nitpick over how simplistic the narrative was or how some scenes were hurriedly packed in. With The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, the loyal bibliophile in me was stirred up and I will not even turn on my snob meter, or whatever literary snobbery (to use a friend’s’ term) I have in me, to rant about the shortcomings of this book. I loved it because it was a book about books and about people who are passionate about books. It’s always awesome to know I am not alone in my world of this kind.
TFG Book of the Month for September 2014.
My copy: ebook