The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A Novel

78%

57 Critic Reviews

...a narrative that is sometimes sentimental, sometimes funny, sometimes true to life and always entertaining. A likable literary love story about selling books and finding love.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

“Funny, tender, and moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry reminds us all exactly why we read and why we love.”*

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over--and see everything anew.   

“This novel has humor, romance, a touch of suspense, but most of all love--love of books and bookish people and, really, all of humanity in its imperfect glory.” —Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child

“Marvelously optimistic about the future of books and bookstores and the people who love both.” —The Washington Post

“You won’t want it to end.” —Family Circle

“A natural for book groups.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“A reader’s paradise of the first order.” —The Buffalo News

“A fun, page-turning delight.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Captures the joy of connecting people and books . . . Irresistible.” —Booklist

“A wonderful, moving, endearing story of redemption and transformation that will sing in your heart for a very, very long time.” —Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

“Readers who delighted in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and Letters from Skye will be equally  captivated by this novel.” —*Library Journal, starred review
 

About Gabrielle Zevin

See more books from this Author
Gabrielle Zevin is the author of Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, as well as two books for adults, Margarettown and The Hole We're In. Of her writing, The New York Times Book Review said, “Zevin’s touch is marvelously light even as she considers profundities.” She lives in New York City.  
 
Published April 1, 2014 by Algonquin Books. 290 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Romance, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Humor & Entertainment. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Sep 03 2017
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Weeks as Bestseller
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
All: 57 | Positive: 50 | Negative: 7

Kirkus

Good
on Feb 06 2014

...a narrative that is sometimes sentimental, sometimes funny, sometimes true to life and always entertaining. A likable literary love story about selling books and finding love.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Jan 20 2014

The surprisingly expansive story includes a romance between Fikry and Amelia, and follows Maya to the age of 18 before arriving at a bittersweet denouement. Zevin is a deft writer, clever and witty, and her affection for the book business is obvious.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Jan 17 2014

The surprisingly expansive story includes a romance between Fikry and Amelia, and follows Maya to the age of 18 before arriving at a bittersweet denouement. Zevin is a deft writer, clever and witty, and her affection for the book business is obvious.

Read Full Review of The Storied Life of A. J. Fik... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Hans Weyandt on Apr 05 2014

So here it is: Gabrielle Zevin’s “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” is a fun, page-turning delight. It is charming — and I mean that in the most positive of ways.

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Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Amy Goodfellow Wagner on Apr 20 2014

It's a sweet book that is saved from sentimentality by Zevin’s graceful writing, sharp observations of small town life and the endangered world of bookselling and wry sense of humor and fun.

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Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Robert J Wiersema on May 09 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, the wonderful, thoughtful and touching new novel from Los Angeles writer Gabrielle Zevin, is not, however, about the darkness of Fikry’s existence. Rather, it’s about the power of life to surprise,...is a book for people who love books, who recognize a story well-told for what it is, and for the power it contains.

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AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Samantha Nelson on Mar 31 2014

Her third outing for adults is her best yet, combining the best parts of the whimsical Margarettown and the grim and political The Hole We’re In to craft a beautiful story about getting a second chance at love.

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The Washington Post

Good
Reviewed by Keith Donohue on Mar 31 2014

Zevin has done something old-fashioned and fairly rare these days. She has written an entertaining novel, modest in its scope, engaging and funny without being cloying or sentimental.

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Teen Reads

Good
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on Apr 05 2014

Zevin's touching portrait of a family --- and a community --- brought together around a bookstore makes this the perfect novel to read and savor, and give to all the book lovers in your life.

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The Columbus Dispatch

Below average
Reviewed by Margaret Quamme on Apr 12 2014

Gabrielle Zevin, whose best-known work is the young-adult novel Elsewhere, starts strong with what seems to be a wry romance. By the time she has super-saturated it with meaning and life lessons, however, The Storied Life has turned soft and sappy.

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Look At OKC

Above average
Reviewed by Betty Lytle on Mar 22 2015

This is a great book for people who love books and worry about the future of bookstores. Every chapter begins with a critique of a short story.

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Watermark Books And Cafe

Good
on Dec 22 2015

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is a quick read, a charming read, and really not to be missed.

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CK2S Kwips and Kritiques

Good
Reviewed by Debbie on Feb 16 2015

THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY is a beautiful and moving story about transformation and the hope of second chances in life. Without a doubt, THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY is one of the best books I’ve ever read...

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Lancashire Evening Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Pam Norfolk on May 06 2015

Sentimental without being mawkish, marked by tragedy but still uplifting, and unashamedly romantic though never cloying, this lovely, charming, life-affirming story is a delight from its caustic opener to its exquisite dénouement.

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ForeWord Reviews

Above average
Reviewed by Sheila M. Trask on Feb 27 2014

Book lovers will be thrilled by each literary reference (though they do lie a bit thick on the ground at certain points), but the book banter generally feels natural and always serves to move the story along.

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St. Cloud Visitor

Good
Reviewed by Ann Jonas on Jan 23 2015

"The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry" is a gem. The novel contains some misfortune and sadness, yet it is a delightful and moving story. It has romance, humor, and a bit of mystery. Above all, it is an entertaining celebration of reading and books.

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The Beaufort Gazette

Above average
Reviewed by Don McKinney on Jan 03 2015

The author clearly loves good writing and good books, and she is a more than capable writer herself. If that turns you on, this may be the little book you've been waiting for.

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Lesa's Book Critiques

Good
Reviewed by Lesa on Feb 09 2015

If a reader is lucky, once or twice a year a book comes along that truly touches the heart. Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry might be one of those books this year for a number of us.

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http://skrishnasbooks.com

Good
Reviewed by Swapna Krishna on Apr 29 2014

If you’re a book lover, then The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry should absolutely be on your list. It’s a small book that will go fast, but it’s worth every second you spend with it.

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Quick Book Reviews

Above average
Reviewed by David Ben Efraim on Apr 24 2014

If the topics of loss, redemption, love and literature are of interest to you, if you don’t mind a slower and more philosophical story with little to no focus on fast-paced action, then I wholeheartedly recommend that you read this book as soon as you get the chance… it will leave you in awe.

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Rhapsody in Books

Good
on Mar 31 2014

his book is bound to appeal to book lovers, but there is much more within that will appeal to those who enjoy subtle humor, unexpected plot twists and clever dialogue.

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https://www.washingtonpost.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Keith Donohue on Mar 31 2014

Zevin has done something old-fashioned and fairly rare these days. She has written an entertaining novel, modest in its scope, engaging and funny without being cloying or sentimental.

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Literate Housewife

Above average
Reviewed by Jennifer on Dec 15 2014

It was at this point I had to make a decision as a reader: suspend my disbelief and continue to follow Zevin’s beautiful story or to be a curmudgeon not unlike A. J. himself. I chose the former and I never looked back. Giving yourself over to a story can lead to some of the most fulfilling reading experiences you can have.

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The Reading Date

Above average
on Mar 31 2014

It’s a contemporary fiction title sure to have crossover appeal to YA fans. If you love bookstores and books (and I assume you do!) then you will love this story about the life of an independent bookseller.

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Jen's Book Thoughts

Good
Reviewed by Jen Forbus on Feb 17 2015

I picked up The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry because several friends recommended it, and for that I'm grateful. I would not have wanted to miss this one.

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BookNAround

Below average
Reviewed by Kristen on Mar 22 2015

If it wasn't for the setting of the book and the literary bent, I don't think it would have gotten all the accolades that it has gotten from the book community. It was a easy and charming powder puff of a read if you don't look too closely, floating happily along admiring the concept behind it rather than examining the actual content too deeply.

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http://blogs.slj.com

Good
Reviewed by Angela Carstensen on Apr 30 2014

Although there is nothing specifically teen about The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, this is the kind of book that anyone who loves bookstores and books will simply fall in love with.

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Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Good
Reviewed by Wendy Runyon on Dec 15 2015

I think one of my fears was that this book would be too thick with literary references, and while there were a lot, they were very relateable. As someone who both loves to read and write, I felt right at home in Zevin's novel. Bookstores really can be the heart of a community and books like this are a reminder of just what that means.

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Pop Culture Nerd

Good
Reviewed by Pop Culture Nerd on Aug 24 2015

The inconsistent tense became a bit distracting at times, but the story is so lovely, the characters so memorable that this book will easily be a top-five (if not top-three) book for me this year.

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The Novel World

Below average
on May 18 2015

For all the drama purported through the character’s and their descriptions, there is virtually no conflict in the book. Everything resolves neatly, everyone communicates, is empathic and sympathetic all the time. Its an ideal world of fiction. Maybe that was the author’s intent?

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Seduced By a Book

Above average
Reviewed by Lisarenee on Aug 01 2015

The book was cute, funny, and put a smile on my face.I enjoyed how AJ referenced books a lot when it came to his life and it showed just how much he truly loved reading. As a fellow book lover I totally could relate.

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Impressions

Excellent
Reviewed by Hilcia on Jan 18 2015

This is a beautiful book for book lovers. But this is the thing, Zevin takes all of that and integrates it into a story about life itself with all the messy "disappointments and exhilarating moments that make life beautiful now and again." Highly recommended.

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Lost in a Great Book

Good
on Apr 01 2014

Ultimately, this book is a love letter to people who love books in all forms. It reminds us that there is power in books and in our interpretation of what we read, and that we can’t ever minimize the importance that reading plays in the development of the human psyche.

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Reeder Reads

Good
on Mar 29 2014

This book really is a gift and you’ll find yourself reading it and then passing it along to your friend or Mother in my case, because you know that they’re going to love it as much as you do.

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http://www.dawn.com

Above average
Reviewed by SAIMA S. HUSSAIN on Aug 11 2014

This novel is about books and contains literary references and jokes about book publishing that many will enjoy. It is also about the power of unexpected happiness and always believing that something wonderful is just around the corner.

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The Novel Life

Excellent
Reviewed by Stacy on Apr 06 2014

Fair warning ~ grab a box of kleenex and be prepared to cry, smile, laugh and cry once more. But after the final page has been turned, you’ll feel as though there IS good left in the world, that most people want to help, and bookish folks have been redeemed.

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Clear Eyes, Full Shelves

Good
Reviewed by Sarah on Apr 22 2014

Put The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry on your to-read list and you won't regret it. It's just the sort of novel to get you out of a funk after a lousy week or to remind you why you loved books to begin with.

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Once Upon A Bookcase

Good
Reviewed by Jo on Apr 25 2015

With a story set around a love of reading, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is an amusing and beautiful novel for book lovers everywhere. If you read, you must read this book!

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Ivy Book Bindings

Good
Reviewed by Keertana on Nov 11 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry isn't a sugar-coated tale, though--for the most part--it appears so. Yet, it is the minuscule sprinkles of sorrow and grounded reality in a tale of love and redemption that, ultimately, make this a journey to remember, no matter how many times it is read.

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Reading to Know

Below average
Reviewed by Carrie on Jan 07 2016

This book took me outside of my comfort zone and made me curious in a way that most modern authors fail to do. Some will say that I shouldn't have read it and others will say that its great that I did. For my own part I'll say that I read it, but I wouldn't recommend it.

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Starting Fresh

Good
Reviewed by Gaby317 on Jun 26 2015

Overall, The Storied Life of A.J.Fikry is a tribute to books and reading, a story of love and hope and friendship. I read the entire book while at the Outdoor Reading Room and the experience reminded me of the many things that I love about NYC.

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The Three R's Blog

Above average
on Jul 24 2014

It's quick, it's light, and offers many enjoyable tidbits for those who love the reading life, but I don't feel that it adds up to much more than the tidbits, and I was hoping for a little more substance.

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http://whimpulsive.net

Good
Reviewed by SuziQoregon on May 23 2014

As the book continued and some of the secondary characters became more important I found myself resenting the fact that I had to go to work instead of just sitting down and reading until I finished the book.

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https://bookdout.wordpress.com

Good
Reviewed by Shelleyrae on May 02 2014

A beautifully crafted novel about the power of love, and literature, to transform and redeem us, The Storied Life of A.J. Firky is a captivating read.

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My Bookshelf

Good
Reviewed by Shirley on Apr 21 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a warm, charming, intellectually stirring story... of romance, love and books and a man who finds he has it all after all.

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https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com

Excellent
Reviewed by DRBETHNOLAN on Apr 18 2015

Oh my goodness, I loved this book. I just loved the story, the characters, the way A.J. changed over time, and the way it all tied in to literature. I cried at the end.

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Curious Book Shop

Good
Reviewed by Ray Walsh on May 07 2014

It could easily be produced as a made-for-TV movie. "Fikry" is a great novel for beach reading and would be an excellent choice for a book club discussion group.

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IRBRATB

Above average
on Dec 24 2015

All the other characters were ineresting also, and I wanted the story to go on and on. I was a bit sad with the way it ended, but it still was one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time.

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Rachel Ann Haley

Above average
Reviewed by Rachel Hanley on Jul 07 2014

Though I think many people will enjoy this book, I, too, must acknowledge that it’s perfect for bibliophiles, especially anyone who works in the book industry...

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The Crazy Bookworm

Excellent
Reviewed by Cathy B on Jan 12 2015

It is a simple story that will have you absolutely enthralled. It may be short in pages, but the story will have you devouring the book and thinking about it long after you read it!

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Tread Softly

Good
Reviewed by Angela on Apr 21 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is truly a find for all sorts of readers. Storytellers will revel in the seamless plot development, character enthusiasts will love the delicate quirks that give even minor characters a rich role when they occupy the page.

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Bay State Reader's Advisory

Above average
Reviewed by LAURIE C on Feb 26 2015

If you like quirky books like Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore or Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, or books that are about books and reading, you’ll probably like The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry very much.

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George Kelley

Excellent
Reviewed by george on Aug 18 2014

This book is a homage to reading and the power of books to change lives. There are a number of surprising twists in the plot so I’m being deliberately vague (I hate Spoilers). I highly recommend The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry!

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The Literary Outpost

Above average
Reviewed by H. Deal Safrit on May 16 2015

The novel is also just plain fun to read in many respects, though I must say that the greater knowledge one has of the book world, especially the world of retail bookselling, the more enjoyable and humorous the book will be in this respect.

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She Reads

Good
on Dec 22 2015

Gabrielle Zevin’s enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books–an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

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La Buena Vida

Good
Reviewed by Meredith on Feb 03 2015

It's no secret that I love books about books, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is really no exception there, because it's not just about books, it also feels a bit like a love letter to everyone who truly loves reading.

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A Foodie Biliophile in Wanderlust

Above average
on May 13 2014

I have a feeling that there are many people like me who will finish The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and have many places where they flagged passages so they could remember all the beautiful, loving words Zevin penned as a tribute to bookishness...

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Reader Rating for The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
85%

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Maya Venter 7 Apr 2015

Rated the book as 5 out of 5

Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to custom list '2013 NPR'

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