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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry | [Gabrielle Zevin]

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

The irascible A. J. Fikry, owner of Island Books - the only bookstore on Alice Island - has already lost his wife. Now his most prized possession, a rare book, has been stolen from right under his nose in the most embarrassing of circumstances. The store itself, it seems, will be next to go. One night upon closing, he discovers a toddler in his children’s section with a note from her mother pinned to her Elmo doll: I want Maya to grow up in a place with books and among people who care about such kinds of things. I love her very much, but I can no longer take care of her.
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Publisher's Summary

The irascible A. J. Fikry, owner of Island Books - the only bookstore on Alice Island - has already lost his wife. Now his most prized possession, a rare book, has been stolen from right under his nose in the most embarrassing of circumstances. The store itself, it seems, will be next to go.

One night upon closing, he discovers a toddler in his children’s section with a note from her mother pinned to her Elmo doll: I want Maya to grow up in a place with books and among people who care about such kinds of things. I love her very much, but I can no longer take care of her. A search for Maya’s mother, A. J.’s rare book, and good childcare advice ensues, but it doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the transformation of both bookstore and owner, something of particular interest to the lovely yet eccentric Knightley Press sales rep, Amelia Loman, who makes the arduous journey to Alice Island thrice each year to pitch her books to the cranky owner.

©2014 Gabrielle Zevin. Recorded by arrangement with Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing Company, Inc. (P)2014 (p) 2014 HighBridge Company

What the Critics Say

"Zevin is a deft writer, clever and witty, and her affection for the book business is obvious." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (425 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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4.1 (382 )
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Story
4.1 (379 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (15)
Performance
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  •  
    B. Sorensen Tacoma, WA 04-15-14
    B. Sorensen Tacoma, WA 04-15-14 Member Since 2014

    breeze27

    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    "A Tale for Booksellers"

    I am almost at a loss for words regarding my love for the Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. While I want the entire world to know this book, I also want to keep it to myself for a little while. I felt that Gabrielle Zevin wrote this book for me (and other booksellers), but mostly for me. As a life-long book lover, and a bookseller for the better part of the last decade, this book captured exactly why those of us in the book-business do what we do. Ironic, I know, considering Audible is an Amazon company. I'm justifying this choice by telling myself it's different since I got this through the 30-day free trial. Don't ruin my fantasy.

    This is a tale of love, loss, and redemption. While it certainly stroked my bookseller/lover ego in all the right places, I wouldn't say it's strictly for these audiences. More than anything, it's a tale about community, and the surprising relationships that can develop over shared stories, whether in books or reality.

    I struggled with the narration for the same reason I struggle with most audio books: the narrator's performance didn't match the way I would have read the physical book. It was a bit too dramatic for my tastes. That being said, if you're a regular listener of audio books, you will probably find the performance fantastic, as I found it better than most.

    Overall, I would recommend you read this book, or give it too the book-lover in your life. I think I'm going to special order a physical copy from my local indie bookstore.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken Scottsdale, AZ, United States 04-06-14
    Ken Scottsdale, AZ, United States 04-06-14 Member Since 2007

    Retired high tech CEO who raised quarter horses, pilots his own Bonanza A36 airplane, enjoys shooting sports and spending time with his lovely wife and family

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Literary Lovely"

    Well written with strong character development. Some mystery well seasoned with tangled twists keeps you tuned in. The exploration of why we read and why some gifted persons write is also worthy of note.
    "Bookies" will love the constant mentions of other books and authors. It pushes you to jot these down since finding other worthwhile authors and reads is a never ending quest for those of us who enjoy reading.
    Cheers, Ken

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Trish Virginia 04-30-14
    Trish Virginia 04-30-14 Member Since 2005

    I have always loved to read, and now I really enjoy listening to my books as well!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved, Loved, Loved It!!"

    It has been a while since I’ve read or listened to a great book and wanted to get a review posted right away—but happily, I have just finished one and can’t wait to tell others!!

    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is that book. I was intrigued by the summary, and loved the idea of an independent bookseller being the central character. What a charming story!! I was hooked from the beginning, and was enthralled throughout. It is cute, quirky, funny, sad—heart-tuggingly sad—and I loved every minute of it! The story is original and very well written, and Scott Brick does an excellent job with the narration.

    I truly hope this book finds an audience—it deserves to—and I intend to help it along!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Galt United States 04-05-14
    John Galt United States 04-05-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Delightful story for book lovers"
    Any additional comments?

    A depressed bookstore owner who has lost everything important to him...(except his books) finds something unexpected waiting for him in his shop which completely changes his life. References to other books and famous authors are scattered throughout this story of the effect books can have upon your life.

    By far the best book I've read this year.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RueRue Orange County, CA 04-08-14
    RueRue Orange County, CA 04-08-14 Member Since 2013

    RueRue

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Absolutely loved it !"
    What made the experience of listening to The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry the most enjoyable?

    This is a story for people who love book stores and who love to read. Unfortunately, this was the wrong narrator for such a charming book. I so wish someone else had done the narration. That said, the charm of the characters and the wonderful story still held up. This book made me smile and cry.
    LOVED IT !


    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane Mount Vernon, NY, United States 05-07-14
    Diane Mount Vernon, NY, United States 05-07-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry"

    I often turn to reviews from all of you. I am a great book lover and yes, I do listen to them. I would love to be guilt free enough to sit in my big old cushioned chair and read ... but I dust, do the dishes (try to avoid cooking) and I finish the laundry. I also drive between NYC and NH, those are the best four hours for listening to a good, solid book.

    I have been getting tired of all these genre books ... the ones with Black slaves being beaten by horrible white slave owners; the ones with Jewish people being tortured by white Germans; the ones with people hurting other people. Tired of it!

    This book, "The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry," is a sweet, gentle book, just what I was looking for. The story was not boring, my attention never wandered, in fact, I did not even want to shut off the light and go to sleep. I totally enjoyed it. I gave it thought during the next day, I was sorry when it ended .

    So, if you are looking for "your next book," this is a good one. It sort of falls in the category of "Olive Kettridge" (sp? ) and the "Last stand of Major Petegrew" (sp?). I loved those too.

    My life is too busy to be bothered with people beating up other people. I am looking for soft and gentle, but not boring.

    Oh yes, very well written.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ReluctantReader New York, United States 04-27-14
    ReluctantReader New York, United States 04-27-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I loved AJ Fikry's Storied Life!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry the most enjoyable?

    The Narrator, Scott Brick, did an excellent job of what I think AJ Fikry would have sounded like - the boredom, the care, the longing.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Amelia. I kept on picturing Penelope from Criminal Minds, just so quirky and likeable! She is also quite smart, and can go toe to toe with AJ, yet when he flubbed on the whole Late Bloomer fiasco, she considered his feelings first. Despite the grump AJ was, they complemented one another.


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    He *was* A.J. Fikry.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I wanted to hang onto it for a while - I listened to it in 3 sittings.


    Any additional comments?

    It seems like all stories these days need a vampire or a dystopian society. This story has a hook - the baby left in a bookstore, but we aren't hammered with that. The baby grows up, has a normal life, Her dad gets married - it's just normal. People who are self proclaimed book snobs, and live on an island - are just normal. It was a breath of fresh air. It might help that I too believe that you should share some sensibility with the person you love...or who loves you.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deb Waynesville, NC, United States 04-22-14
    Deb Waynesville, NC, United States 04-22-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "wonderful story"

    This is not a complicated or harsh story nor is it a mushy love story. It is a wonderful well written story that I'm sure I will listen to again.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marti Montgomery, AL, United States 06-28-14
    Marti Montgomery, AL, United States 06-28-14 Member Since 2006

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Cozy with Family and Literature"

    I am an odd "reader" of audible. I keep something playing at all times, even when asleep or away. Some books are great but I can only deal with once, while some book albums would have been broken from heavy usage, if we were still using tapes. This book is lovely and I'm delighted to add such a cozy situation, much made of literary bonds.

    Caution: the book takes awhile to pick-up and establish itself. I worry some readers will give-up before giving the book a full two hours.

    As far as the narrator is concerned, it is hard to say. My guess is that Scott Brick is somebody you either like or you don't. His style is distinctive.

    Happy reading.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 05-05-14
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 05-05-14 Member Since 2012

    Enjoying one good listen after the next!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Delightful Story, Dreadful Narration"

    This is a wonderful story, made almost impossible to listen to by Scott Brick's pretentious narration! This makes half a dozen Brick books I've listened to, and I have yet to find a book that Brick narrated in such a way that it suited the story and characters. (Sorry all Scott Brick fans.)

    That said, if you love books, you'll love the story of this bookstore and the delightful characters who caretake the shop on a small island on the coast of Rhode Island. Be forewarned; the first few chapters may be painful with Brick's gratuitous enunciations, inflections and lack of character accents. It took me some time to get beyond the narration, but the story grabbed me, so I resigned myself to Brick's faults and went forward.

    It is a very contemporary story about the plight of today's independent book sellers. The story has lots of great twists and turns for all of the story's characters which gave this book great charm.

    I halfway wish I would have read the story from a real paper book. That way, I could have imagined the tone of voice and accents that Zevin surely intended his characters to have.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
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