Monday, November 16, 2015

Another Strong Read! - The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin

I just finished my 2nd 3.5/4 out of my last 4 books.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a very good book.  And to think I only read it because it's the Los Gatos Library Evening Book Club selection for December.  Funny, I've been looking at this book for a while now.  Some of my fellow bloggers have been raving about it.  But I still evidently needed a push.  Our illustrious Los Gatos Library leader, Melissa, provided it for me.  Thanks, Melissa.

I like the blurb on the back page of the book:  "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."

That doesn't really give much away, does it?  Good.  The 1st 1/4 and the last 1/4 of the book are solid.  The middle 1/2 is spectacular.  Don't get me wrong.  There's nothing wrong with the other half.  It just wasn't quite as good as the middle.

Zevin has done some really neat things with this book:

1.  At the beginning of each chapter, A.J. writes a letter to Maya (you'll have to read a little bit to know who Maya is - I refuse to give it away).
2.  There are tons of references to books; a number of which I have read - Bel Canto (thumbs up), The Time Traveler's Wife (thumbs sideways), The Chronicles of Narnia (thumbs way up).
3.  And there are lots of references to authors; a number of whom I have read - Kate Atkinson, Jo Nesbo, Elmore Leonard, and Cormac McCarthy.
4.  The author uses terms that I've come to know through book blogging -TBR (to be read) pile and ARCs (advanced reading copies).
5.  The book is extremely well written.  Here are a few examples:

     a.  Referring to his sister-in-law, A.J. says:  "Pregnant, she is like a very pretty
     b.  While looking at Maya, A.J. says:  "He feels drunk or at least carbonated."
     c.   In one of his letters to Maya, A.J. says:  "You know everything you need to
           know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite

And for the 1st time, I'm going to quote part of an author's acknowledgement page.  I know that's a bit strange, but it's a passage I can actually relate to.  Zevin says:  "On her lunch hours from work, my mom, AeRan Zevin, used to drive me to the bookstore so I could get my favorite authors on their first day of release."  I used to do that every Tuesday at the Barnes & Noble in The Pruneyard in Campbell, CA.  It was just around the corner from my office.  And on many of those Tuesdays an author would be at a big table near the front of store.  That's how I met Jennifer Skully/Jasmine Haynes, Shelley Bates/Adina Sent, Peter Adler/A.R. Silverberry, and Hannah Schwartz/Hannah Jayne, to name just some of them. These and others have become very important to me and are authors that I still see today. (in fact, counting this coming Thursday, all 4 of those named are RBC authors.)

10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY PARTY:  This coming Wednesday is the 10th anniversary of Kathleen's ownership of A Great Good Place for Books, located in the Montclair shopping district in Oakland.  Saturday, November 28, will be an all-day celebration.  If you haven't been to GGP yet, take some time to get out there on the 28th (or some other time).  It's a very cool bookstore.  It's similar to what Gabrielle Zevin makes us visualize with her description of Island Books in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

ANOTHER LOCAL AUTHOR GETS A LITERARY NOMINATION:  I just found out today that, like A.R. Silverberry, Ellen Kirshman has been nominated for a USA Best Books award for her latest Dot Meyerhof (police psychologist) novel The Right Wrong Thing.  Congrats, Ellen, and good luck.  We'll be pulling for you. 


  1. My sister read and loved that book but never passed it on to me. I think I need to nudge her a little bit.

    1. You do. It's going right on my Sunday morning recommendation table.

  2. I adored this too :)

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  3. Great review. I like how you are able to say what you think without including spoilers. I can't believe you only gave thumbs sideways to Time Traveler's Wife. I love that book!

    1. I probably came into in prejudiced because it was an Oprah selection (I think).