Monday, July 7, 2014

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

A Life of Books (Quick and Touching)

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is about a curmudgeonly bookstore owner who has slipped into depression and alcoholism after his wife died in a car accident. Without Nic, A.J. is suffering and so is business since she was the people person. At 39, he’s just looking forward to retiring, and the rare edition of an Edgar Allan Poe book is his ticket out of there, until there’s a snag.  Someone stole it. And that’s not all. In the greatest twist of fate, a baby is left in his store with a note from the mother stating that she can no longer take care of Maya and wants her to grow up being a reader.

This is a touching, quick and easy read that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. I liked the setting--on Alice Island by Martha’s Vineyard.  I was already planning my next vacation there ready to sip a Queequeg at the Pequod even if the salty, fruity, fishy concoction sounded disgusting—until I found out it’s a fictional location.  I also liked all the characters in the book from Chief Lambiase, who starts a book club for cops, to Amelia, the publisher’s book rep with unusual wardrobe tastes.

One of the greatest attractions to this book was the load of literary references. A story about a book store owner is bound to drop a book title here and there. But there were a LOT of books mentioned in this novel.  I counted over seventy titles which were seamlessly woven throughout the story with additional references to authors.  It was fun to spot the ones I’ve read, and interesting to see other popular books.  Below I’ve listed the cited books that I have read with either a quick comment or a link to my review.

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick **Click Title to Read the Review**

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery **Click Title to Read the Review**

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville*Click Title to Read the Review** 

Silas Marner by George Eliot **Click Title to Read the Review**

Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy Published in 1891, this 500+ read is a classic.  Tess is a poor peasant girl sent to work at her wealthy relative’s house with consequences which steer her life in a difficult and heart-breaking direction. Good read.  

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout **Click Title to Read the Review**

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain A witty short story about a man who tells a story about Daniel Webster, a pet frog that could jump higher than any other frog.  Funny.  Read it online at:

The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe  A short story in which a man visits his ailing friend, Roderick, in
a dilapidated house. While there, Roderick’s twin sister dies and they bury her in the tombs under the house. In the evening as the visitor reads aloud from a book they hear strange noises.  Roderick then reveals that he believes that they may have prematurely buried his sister Madeline. The ending is unforgettable and dramatic. Read it online at

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck This book about an Oklahoma family who decides to migrate to California during the Great Dust Bowl along with thousands of other Okies. It has a memorable and shocking ending. Good read. 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald **Click Title to Read the Review**

The Monster at the End of this Book  Although A.J. Fikry didn’t like this children’s book, my kids beg to differ. They LOVED this Little Golden Book starring lovable, furry, old Grover from Sesame Street who is afraid of a monster at the end of the book.  I now read it to my

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain – A novel about Hemingway’s first wife and their life with the “Lost Generation” in Paris in the twenties.  My book club members gave it a thumbs-up!

The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Another chilling and dramatic short story by Poe.  A paranoid man doesn’t like the blue eye of an old man. He starts watching him in his sleep and finally decides he must kill him. After he does the deed, he chops him up and stuffs him under the floorboards. But guilt gets the better of him as he starts to hear the dead man’s heartbeat under his feet.  Read it online at

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte **Click Title to Read the Review**

Book List of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

  • A Conversation with My Father by Grace Paley
  • A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
  • A Little Princess
  • A Perfect Day for a Bananafish by J.D. Salinger
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  • A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  • Brownies by Z.Z. Packer 
  • Bullet in the Brain by Tobias Wolff
  • Caligula by Anthony A. Barret
  • Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slodbodkina
  • Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
  • Charming Billy by Alice McDermott
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  • Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by Z.Z. Packer
  • Fat by Raymond Carver
  • From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
  • House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  • In Search of Lost Time by Proust
  • In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried by Amy Hempel
  • Indian Camp by Ernest Hemingway
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster
  • Ironhead by Aimee Bender
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
  • Juiced by Jose Canseco
  • L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy
  • Lamb to Slaughter by Roald Dahl
  • Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  • Luck of the Roaring Camp by Bret Harte
  • Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  • Old School by Tobias Wolff
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  • Our Town by Thornton Wilder
  • Poor Bastard by Jeffery Deaver
  • Principles of Accounting II
  • Red Pony by John Steinbeck
  • Silas Marner by George Eliot
  • Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  • Tamerlane by Edgar Allan Poe
  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by Matthew Tobin Anderson
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  • The Beauties by Anton Chekhov
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Bookseller by Roald Dahl
  • The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller
  • The Diamond as big as the Ritz by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Doll’s House by Katherine Mansfield
  • The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Girls in Their Summer Dresses by Irwin Shaw
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Soltzhenitsyn
  • The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone
  • The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
  • The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurst
  • What Feels Like the World by Richard Bausch
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
  • Where The Wind Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Happy Reading,


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