On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.
A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.
Number 3 of my favorite reads of 2022. I really loved this, and I may be biased as a Bookstore owner. I will say give it some time, a bit of time, it’s slow going. It takes off about halfway; I mean, really… How could I not love this book? The story of a bookseller (relatable) that falls in love with his literary sales rep. She, along with his adopted daughter, brings meaning to his life. There’s tragedy, heartbreak, and laughter. Watch the movie when you get done reading the book, but be prepared to bawl your eyes out to both.
About the Author:
GABRIELLE ZEVIN is a New York Times best-selling novelist whose books have been translated into forty languages.
Her tenth novel, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow was published by Knopf in July of 2022 and was an instant New York Times Best Seller, a Sunday Times Best Seller, a USA Today Best Seller, a #1 National Indie Best Seller, and a selection of the Tonight Show’s Fallon Book Club. Maureen Corrigan of NPR’s Fresh Air called it, “a big beautifully written novel…that succeeds in being both serious art and immersive entertainment.” Following a twenty-five-bidder auction, the feature film rights to Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow were acquired by Temple Hill and Paramount Studios. She is currently writing the screenplay.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry spent many months on the New York Times Best Seller List, reached #1 on the National Indie Best Seller List, was a USA Today Best Seller, and has been a best seller all around the world. A.J. Fikry was honored with the Southern California Independent Booksellers Award for Fiction, the Japan Booksellers’ Prize, and was long listed for the International Dublin Literary Award, among other honors. To date, the book has sold over five-million copies worldwide. It is now a feature film with a screenplay by Zevin. Young Jane Young won the Southern Book Prize and was one of the Washington Post’s Fifty Notable Works of Fiction.
She is the screenwriter of Conversations with Other Women (Helena Bonham Carter) for which she received an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Best First Screenplay. She has occasionally written criticism for the New York Times Book Review and NPR’s All Things Considered, and she began her writing career, at age fourteen, as a music critic for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Zevin is a graduate of Harvard University. She lives in Los Angeles.