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
"Zevin is a deft writer, clever and witty, and her affection for the book business is obvious." (Publishers Weekly)
I'm an avid listener always searching for another good book and willing to share my thoughts with a pithy review.
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.
There are few books I've listened to on Audible that I truly wish I had read instead. This is one of those books because Scott Brick's over the top contrived inflection is exhausting to listen to. Breathy and annoying .
Bookstore Proprietor A.J. Fikry has definite tastes in books:
“I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magic
realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices…genre mash-ups. Literary
fiction about the Holocaust [is] distasteful -- non-fiction only, please. Literature should be
literature, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything
satisfying. I do not like children's books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer to not
clutter my shelves with Young Adult. I do not like anything over 400 pages, or under 150
He goes on to despise: ghostwritten novels, celebrity memoirs, debuts, chick-lit, poetry, or translations..."this goes without saying--vampires." But, he says, he likes "everything else."
Fikry is a delightfully cantankerous man, a widower, satisfied with drinking his days away while the bookstore withers and dies. That is, until his nest egg, a rare copy of Poe's poetry, is stolen and he realizes he'll be making a living at selling books longer than he had intended. The theft sets off a series of events that broadens his lonely world, and tastes in books. It's like watching the Grinch's heart grow three sizes. Much of his personality is dispensed through his comments on known works of literature, and through little pearls of wisdom he passes along. We find out that in spite of his reading discriminations, Fikry is no misanthropic curmudgeon at all.
The setting for this easy-breezy-love-song-to-reading is the kind of endangered species that is the destination find for any traveling bibliophile, a book-peruser's fantasy -- and very fitting because the book has a fantasy, fairy-tale like quality to it. Fikry's store is the lower floor of the little home he used to share with his wife, located on Alice island. I imagined: a charming cottage type with wood floors and braid rugs, a fireplace with overstuffed chairs to curl up in and test run a few books, a little bell over the front door. The sign over the shop reads:
"No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World" and I think most avid readers agree with the sentiment.
At one point, Fikry offers this bit of wisdom:
“You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question: What is your favorite book?” -- I'm still trying to choose just one.
For anyone that loves to read, can't imagine ever being without a book, lists reading as their favorite pastime, this might be your answer (or at least one of them) to Fikry's question.
Scott Brick's narration is a (controversial) matter of taste, like oysters or mushrooms or okra...you like it, or you really really don't. I've listened to books where his voice was well suited for the narration, but here it didn't convey the kind of warmth and charm needed to tell this story.
Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.
I really enjoyed this audiobook. It was engrossing all the way through--a quick and very pleasant listening experience.
In brief, it is about a curmudgeonly man, A. J. Fikry, (who only THINKS he's old) who runs an old-fashioned bookstore (you remember them, don't you?) on Alice Island off the coast of New England and what happens to his life after a baby is abandoned in his store. Don't be put off by the baby thing--she grows up fast, as all babies do. And, let's be clear, this is not what I'd call Chick Lit although there is a bit of romance. It is much too good to be pigeonholed into that category. I think this story will thrill bookstore owners and reading fanatics but would be enjoyable to a wide variety of readers as well.
And I must say that I don't agree that Scott Brick's narration ruined the story. I am not a Brick fan, but I am trying to be more open-minded about him. I thought he did a fine job here, and the narration did not distract me from the story whatsoever.
If this book sounds like your cup of tea, you are in for a fun experience.
Enjoying one good listen after the next!
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.
I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!
The storied life of A. J. Firky is a wonderful story. My favorite character is Maya, his "wonderful nerd" as her dad called her. Scott Brick, my favorite narrator, is not the ideal narrator for this book.
The story was interesting - somewhat reminded me of Silas Marner but only in the beginning. I was surprised when the story carried forward to a part 2. Not sure if that was necessary, the development wasn't as clean in Part 2.
But it was the narration, the creative delivery that made the story shine. I love it when the story and narration are a good match.
Scott Brick, you are my absolute favorite!
Enjoyed the narrator, he was easy to follow with all of the dialogue among the characters.
The story had some wonderful twists and surprises. Admittedly I laughed out loud many times and cried at the end.
You should buy this book! I'm glad I did.
Life's good when I am listening to a great book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I got lost in the story and found A.J. (the bookstore owner) to have clever, biting observations about life. I enjoyed experiencing A.J.'s changes over a decade of his lifetime. I was afraid that the book would be too trite and cliche'd but the story was engaging and the characters so lively that I never experienced a less than delightful moment of listening. Because A.J. owns a bookstore and his life is about books, there are many references comparing life experiences to various authors and book titles. He reminds the readers about finding companionship in a good book, about traveling to other times and places in a good book, and about the importance of asking a new friend, "what is your favorite book?" I had moments where I just broke out laughing while listening. I know some reviewers have remarked that this book should be regarded as "chick lit" (since A.J.'s relationship development does traverse the novel) but I see this novel also in the category of "literary fiction". The language is precise, the prose is well developed, and the story is different; refreshing. The narrator brings to life the personalities of all the characters and speaks clearly and consistently throughout. I highly recommend this novel.
Yes, it's a book about life that takes reality and makes it enjoyable while not patronizing the reader. I've already told everyone in my family to read this amazing story.
I loved the narrators take on the various personalities that infuse this novel. It was a pleasure to listen to and I was sad when it ended. Listen to this book, you'll be glad you did.
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