Need to just relax and read something about real life, interesting characters, and a bittersweet ending? Grab a copy of this book by Gabrielle Zevin.
I have always fantasized about owning my own bookstore. Imagine being surrounded by books 24/7. Reading about them, ordering them, stocking them, displaying them, talking about them, selling them.
In The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry we have a glimpse into the life of a bookseller, albeit a cranky, disillusioned one. Despondent from the death of his wife, A.J. Fikry leads a life of narrow reading choices (thereby very specific book selections in his store), gruff associations with his neighbors, and general dissatisfaction while running his book store in a small island town.
His grim life takes a turn when he meets a young hip book distributor who has taken over the route of a former colleague. Then he finds two-year old Maya sitting in the corner of the children’s area, with her Elmo doll. Maya teaches him how to open his heart again to receive joy, to feel love, and be a friend.
Full of references and suggestions for further reading, this novel includes a running essay collection fronting each chapter wherein A.J. discusses great short stories with Maya, as she grows into adulthood.
I wouldn’t have read this book initially. The title is wordy and the action slow to start, but I am glad I did read it. The book is sweet and the characters worth knowing. I would recommend The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry to any book club.