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People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question: What is your favorite book?

A.J. Fikry is a grumpy, irritable bookstore owner. His wife has died in a tragic accident, he’s become very bitter, and he spends most of his nights getting drunk and angry. On one such night, he finds that someone has stolen his copy of Tamerlane, a rare collection of short stories written by Poe and valued at approximately $400,000. Shortly after, he finds that someone has left a baby in his bookstore, seemingly with the understanding that he will raise the child.

And thus begins the gradual melting of A.J.’s heart. And yours, too, most likely. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is not what I expected – it was so much more. It’s incredibly well-developed, with beautiful characters and an engaging plot. It has twists that you’ll probably see coming, but that doesn’t ruin anything. It has an ending that’s both sad and hopeful at the same time. And throughout the book, A.J. makes book recommendations!

I adored this book and read it from the second I got home from work until I had to go to bed, only to repeat again the next day. Highly recommended for any book lovers, and anyone who enjoys a good story.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy.

Final rating:  ★★

[also posted here]

Her mother likes to say that novels have ruined Amelia for real men. This observation insults Amelia because it implies that she only reads books with classically romantic heroes. She does not mind the occasional novel with a romantic hero but her reading tastes are far more varied than that. Furthermore, she adores Humbert Humbert as a character while accepting the fact that she wouldn’t really want him for a life partner, boyfriend, or even a casual acquaintance. She feels the same way about Holden Caulfield, and Misters Rochester and Darcy.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry | Gabrielle Zevin

We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry | Gabrielle Zevin

The things we respond to at twenty are not necessarily the same things we will respond to at forty and vice versa. This is true in books and also in life.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry | Gabrielle Zevin

People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question: What is your favorite book?

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry | Gabrielle Zevin

For a time, the novelty of the circus had distracted from the fact that they had nothing in common. By the end of dinner, the greater truth of their incompatibility had been revealed. Perhaps it should have been obvious from their inability to reach consensus on an appetizer or from his main course admission that he disliked “old things” – antiques, houses, dogs, people. Still, Amelia had not allowed herself to be certain until dessert, when she’d asked him about the book that had had the greatest influence on his life, and he’d replied Principles of Accounting, Part II.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry | Gabrielle Zevin