The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is one of these such books, and I am a better reader for it. The story follows the pessimistic A.J. Fikry, a widower who lives alone and runs a struggling independent bookshop. To make matters worse, he’s just lost his extremely valuable collection of rare Edgar Allen Poe poems. But an unexpected package at the door gives him a chance to miraculously start his life anew and set things right- no matter how dead-end he thought things may be.
The best way I can describe this book was that it felt like I’d just lived a miniature, fulfilling life. Zevin’s writing style of dry-humored wit and heartwarming dialogue entrapped me to a point of obsessive page-turning. It was the perfect combination of intricate storyline and meandering observations about life and literature. To put things simply, I found myself underlining quotes left and right, without ever managing to lose an ounce of interest in the actual plot points of the story. Similar to Coehlo’s The Alchemist, but without the sermon-like lessons. One specific aspect of the book I loved was the generational divide. The story not only followed A.J., and his way of viewing the world, but also Maya’s.
This ensures the enthrallment of both readers who have much to reflect on, and those who are young, and have much to learn. If you are a lover of books about books, accompany A.J. Fikry on his journey through heartache and into purpose.
Favorite Quote: “We aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we love. I think these really do live on.”
Ellie George, an avid reader, is a local resident now a student at the University of South Carolina.