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Readers' Comments for THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY

In March, a select group of readers who participated in one of our Special Contests won copies of THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY, award-winning author Gabrielle Zevin's eighth novel. It’s the story of a  reclusive is about a bookseller and collector who, after a series of tragic and disappointing events, is slowly but surely isolating himself from all the people around him. But when a mysterious package appears at his bookstore, it gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over and the ability to see everything anew..  Take a look at some of the readers' comments to give you more insight into this novel. 

Vicky from Trussville, AL
Anyone who loves books should read this quirky story of a bookstore owner. Why did it have to end? I have already recommended this to a friend. I would give this book five stars, it is funny, surprising, sad and a quick (too quick!) read. Gabrielle Zevin is a wonderful storyteller.

THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRYis the story of an odd man who owns a bookstore and the interesting people who come in and out of his life. It is a story that will make you laugh and cry. A.J. loses a wife, courts an equally odd bookseller, finds a baby in his store and has experiences with friends and family members who are a little off kilter I won't spoil the ending, but I cried. If I cry, you got me.

Stephanie from Metairie, LA
I loved this book, and I think it would make an excellent movie. The character development was done in such a way that I felt like I knew each person. I love that characters had flaws, and I didn’t always see things coming, which is a sign of good writing. I hated that the story had to end, and I was moved to tears by the last paragraph. It was a beautiful story, and the characters will live with me. I want to own a bookstore more than ever now.

I would give this book five stars. I have already recommended it to friends and will continue to do so. This book will take you away into another life, and you will be thinking about the story even when you are not reading it. I would buy this for anyone who wants to read a good book.

Kara from Farmington, MI 
If you are now, ever have been, or wish you were a (mostly) shameless book junkie, I think you will be very hard-pressed to dislike this book. Heck, I think mere "social users" of fiction will naturally feel some affection for author Gabrielle Zevin's creation.

I wouldn't call the book irresistible. It was neither a masterpiece that humbled nor a work that captured my entire imagination with intense intellectual or emotional passion. But, what Zevin's art did do is speak directly to my book-loving heart in its own special language. Doesn't that sound delightful? It is!

THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY is, in sum, an unusually charming book. One of the elements integral to the book’s success is the curmudgeonly, somewhat snobbish nature of the protagonist and his relationship with books. If you love to read, the effect of this snobbishness is inclusive rather than alienating. The character is presented by the narrator with the implicit assumption that we will understand his peculiarities and chuckle at them sympathetically --- or if there are no sympathetic chuckles, there will be knowing smirks at the very least. 

The parts of the novel where Zevin showcases her wit by poking fun at her creation, her readers and herself are balanced with a third-person narration that is more straightforward and allows us to connect more directly with the bookseller. This narrative style is employed to increase the impression --- and for me at least, the great personal resonance --- of the protagonist's more poignant, not-at-all-mock-worthy ideas about how books improve and sustain us --- from our minds clear through to our souls. 

As other reviews I have read point out, this a quick, engaging read. I highly recommend it, and not simply because almost every reader will enjoy it.  I encourage you to read it for the precious insights into the experience and practice of reading. You will take whatever you will from this book, but I advise you take this from me: THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY is a very worthy read. I give the book four stars and would recommend it to most of my friends.

Vivian from Charleston, WV 
I absolutely loved this book.  Every now and then, a book will grab you and pull you in. THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY is one of these books. You don't want to like Mr. Fikry --- he's prickly, self-centered and very opinionated --- but he's a great bookseller, a wonderful friend and an amazing father. He learns to love life and human companionship after the death of his first wife by adopting an abandoned infant. The story is about more than books, but it also shows how books can make an impact on lives and create lasting friendships. I enjoyed watching Mr. Fikry become a "father" and grow into a person you have to like and admire. I absolutely loved the notes on various books inserted between the chapters. The story has a sad ending, but this is one book that lives up to the hype.

I would give this book four and a half stars, and I'll be recommending this it to all of my local book groups as a must read.

Barbara from West Monroe, LA
THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY is a great book. It's fascinating and intriguing, and each chapter has a little mystery. The book held my attention from the moment I began reading. This book was a beautiful circle of life and love story. I enjoyed reading this book, and I definitely give it a five star rating. I believe book lovers would savor this novel, but I also recommend THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY to others because it's a fantastic novel.

William from Columbia, MD
I really enjoyed THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY. When I began the book, I in no way expected it to end the way it did. In many ways it captured my feelings toward books and bookstores. I wanted to visit Alice Island and meet all of the characters. The story was well written and the character development was interesting. Anyone who loves books and bookstores will enjoy this book.

Bev from Boise, ID
I loved this book! I started it before I went to bed and ended up staying up half the night to finish it. Most of the books I've been reading lately have been putting me to sleep, but I didn't want this one to end. I give it five stars --- it's a must read.  I'm going to give my copy to a friend who I know will enjoy it, and I will also be recommending this book to my book club. 

A.J. is a bookstore owner who is depressed after the death of his wife, and he isn't sure he wants to go on living without her. He discovers a child in his bookstore, and he ends up raising her.  By the end of the book he is a completely different person. His story is beautiful.

Jeane from Sacramento, CA
A.J. Fikry owns a bookstore on Alice Island in the northeast.  Think Martha's Vineyard --- isolated and hard to get to. Most of his business comes in the summertime from tourists. He does not like his life, and he has reason. His wife has died, his most valuable book has been stolen and he cannot find a reason to care much about anything anymore. 

Then, for some reason, a woman leaves her two-year-old child in his bookstore and commits suicide. This changes A.J. life. He decides to take on raise the little girl. This opens a new world to him, and he evolves into someone new and likeable. His story will make you cry, laugh and think.

I would give this book four stars. It would be located on my "Gals" shelf along with WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE by Marie Semple and HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jamie Ford. If you liked those titles, read this one. I have already recommended this book to the gals in my Curves class and to friends on Facebook. 

I have to agree with Ms. Zevin regarding books. "We agree to be disappointed sometimes so that we can be exhilarated every now and again." 

Patricia from Woodland Hills, CA
I just finished THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY, and my first thought was that I loved the book but wanted more! Like a good bottle of wine, you're looking for those last few wonderful drops. Zevin's writing was smooth and easy to read. Her characters were loveable and friendly. The story is one in that most people would say is a lot like their own --- ups and downs, looking for (and finding) what life is all about, succeeding and learning to accept where you are and what you've become. 

For some reason I found a similarity between this book and THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY. Maybe it was the writing style, perhaps the characters, but both books will have a place in my top ten. This book would make a great book club book. Discussing the novels mentioned by Fikry in the story, learning more about the chapter/title insets and talking about how the characters develop would encourage all readers to provide opinions on Zevin's book. This is the first book by Zevin that I've read, but now I'll definitely look up her others. This story will surely find a spot in the ranks of top-rated books. 

Beverly from Hyde Park, VT
A.J. and his wife own a bookstore on Alice Island. They are happy and doing pretty good, but bad luck strikes. After A.J.’s wife dies in a car accident he loses all interest in his bookstore. Then a very valuable rare book he owns disappears from his apartment above the store and someone leaves a smart little girl in the children's reading section. But when he adopts the girl his whole life changes for the better.

I would give THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY five stars. I loved reading it. It's very well written and keeps you interested until the end. I will definitely recommend it to others.

Dana from Mt. Pleasant, SC
A lonely bookseller becomes a dad overnight to a young girl, and then falls in love. What had been a solitary life is now full of surprises --- some pleasant and some not. I really enjoyed this book; it’s well-written, has unique characters and a strong plot. I would give this book four stars and have already passed it along to my mom.

Patricia from Pawleys Island, SC
As a true book lover, this book rang true to my heart. A.J. is a curmudgeonly man, although he is much younger than his actions and thoughts suggest. His wife died in a car accident and sales soon dropped at his book shop, which is located on a hard to reach island. His favorite, valuable book is stolen, which adds to his misery. A new publisher arrives on the scene unexpectedly. A.J was used to his "regular" publisher who knew his tastes well. A.J. learns that the old publisher has died, and he is very rude and sarcastic to the new young woman. After she has leaves the island, A.J. decides she was not that difficult to deal with and he takes this opportunity to change his life and try to see everything differently. A toddler named Maya also enters his life. This is an unforgettable story of change and second chances. It explains many reasons for why we read and why we love.
I would tell a friend that this book is easy to read and keeps your attention. I would give the book four stars and recommend it to everybody.

Vicki from Grafton, WI 
THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY is a must read for anyone who loves books. From A.J. Fikry' s introduction to each chapter with reflections on a book, to the sweet irony of plot twist that sometimes parallels a story reference, the book is filled with "Easter eggs," that will delight readers.

This book is laugh-out-loud funny, wise, sweet and honest. So-real-they-feel-like-old-friends characters face their unique challenges, and even though things don't always seem to work out, a long-term view of the story suggests that they do. Life does not always beat death in the book, but love always triumphs. Maybe that is the same thing as life beating death, because the love goes on in the telling of the stories. That is the conclusion of all the best books and the conclusion of this book too. 

I can't wait to share this book with my book group that has met for eleven years, as it is filled with all the rudiments of the stories we love. I know they will have fun with all the Easter eggs, and some will catch ones that I missed. 

There are some stories that you finish and are sad to close the last page, but eager to recommend the book to a friend so you can discuss it. This is one of those books!

Linda from Urbana, OH
What a delight! Hearing that the protagonist, Mr. Fikry, was a bookstore owner, prepared me to like the book, but the story, the humor and the quality of the writing gilded the lily. THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY starts with a bookstore owner who feels at the nadir of his life, only to discover that things can get worse and things can get better. Way better. At the beginning of the book he feels that he lost his family and by the end of the book he has more love and family then he ever could imagine. Full of humor and wit and wisdom. Added bonus of behinds the scenes of being a bookstore owner. I would definitely give it five stars since I could not read it fast enough.

Reeca from Ripley, MS.
I loved this book! It would make a wonderful romantic-comedy movie. I could picture all of the scenes in my head. I laughed out loud and caught myself grinning as I was reading. The author did a fabulous job with the characters. I definitely give it five stars, and I have already recommended this book to many people.

Misha from Lincoln, NE
Loved it!THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY is a beautiful story. I loved that the characters were very human and flawed. It delivers a message of hope and truth that even a mostly ordinary life is extraordinary. I give it five stars and would recommend this book.

Karen from Adams, NY
I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised with this book. I wasn't really expecting to like it, but it seemed to draw me in. It was easy to develop feelings or emotions for the characters. Lots of twists, things I didn't expect to happen happened. Seems like when you thought that when the author was going one way with the storyline, she switched gears and through a wrench into what you thought would happen. Good book and easy read and easy to follow along with. At the end you can see that a new storyline is developing.

I would give it a four and a half out of five stars. Probably closer to five. Good book.

I would recommend it to a friend and actually already have. I would say that it is a book where you wouldn't expect to fall or love the characters but you do. The way that it is told it is almost like you are right there being a participant in the story, you can see what the characters see. Just when you think you have it figured out, the unexpected happens and you go along for the ride. Plus, it leaves you hanging and wondering what is going to happen in the future with the characters.

Irene from Toms River, NJ
THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J FIKRY was an interesting read. The characters are well developed and the plot has a satisfactory number of surprises and twists. I thought that defining the characters by the books they read was an intriguing concept. I, personally, miss the small independent bookstores that were the norm when I was much younger. It was a place for book lovers to congregate and have lively discussions with other book lovers and, of course, the book store owner. A.J. Fikry’s bookstore reminded me of the bookstore I visited nearly every day after school 50 years ago. I would give this book four and a half stars.

Susan from Spring Lake Park, MN
In THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY, agrieving and emotionally distraught widower has his heart is melted by an innocent little girl left abandoned in his bookstore. He ends up adopting her and his life becomes enriched --- by his daughter, befriending the local police chief, becoming the community man he should have been and ultimately falling in love with a woman who accepts him for who he is. 

This is a good narrative with rich characters. The story grabbed me emotionally. I liked this book, even though it did not have always flow smoothly. I would give it three and a half stars and recommend it to others.

Heather from Burlington, NC
A.J. Fikry is a small town bookstore owner depressed by his wife’s death. He recovers his will to live by learning to care for someone more significant than himself. The premise for the story is promising, but the book fall flat. There is a disjointed feel to the writing. Ridiculous, distracting details are added in about secondary characters, and I disliked the anti-religious and anti-Christian statements made. I wanted to like this book, but beside from AJ..’s relationship with Maya and Chief Lambaise, it was a very unsatisfying read for the time invested. I didn’t find it particularly interesting, and I would not have finished it if I had not committed to as part of the requirements for the contest. I would give this book one and a half stars, and I would not recommend it to a friend.