Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

If you love books, chances are great that Gabrielle Zevin's book, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, will resonate with you. Full of great insights into reading and those who pursue such endeavors, the book is a delight to a dedicated reader. It wasn't a stunner of a book, but I liked it well enough and enjoyed all the references to books and reading.

A.J. Fikry is a bookseller with a very specific taste in books. I will admit, it didn't sit well with me that he disdains young adult fiction and has little use for children's literature. In the beginning, I didn't quite like his character. But, as his life-story progresses, I began to feel more kinship with him and to tolerate his idiosyncrasies.

A.J. runs a small bookstore on Alice Island. Recently widowed, his life has taken a trajectory he wasn't expecting and even the books aren't quite filling the void she left behind. One night, while A.J. is in a drunken stupor, his prized possession, a first-edition Poe with great financial value, is stolen. He has had about all he can take. Then, one day, someone unexpectedly leaves something behind for him in the store and it opens up a whole new life for this book-loving bookseller.

My favorite part of this book had to be the references to books and readers, with comments about how books sometimes come to us at just the right time for us to reap the most benefits and comments about how we are like books, full of stories. I think one of my favorite lines was this: "We agree to be disappointed sometimes so that we can be exhilarated every now and then." That is how reading goes. It is like a trip to the thrift store. You often have to paw through less desirable items before you score that triumphant deal of a treasure.

Lately, I've been in a reading slump. I just really haven't had much desire to read at all (something quite disastrous for a book review blogger). I have given up on several potential books (like A Million Little Ways, a book about creating art ... just couldn't get excited about it, The Unwelcomed Child ... the characters a bit too religiously zealous at the outset, and Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch ... a book about writing with powerful verbs, but I was bored within the first twenty pages). Thankfully, this was a book I could get into and continue through to the end. Hopefully, I'll get out of this slump soon. I needed the jump-start from this book about the love of books.

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