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

the storied lifeIn theory, this novel sounded like it would be a really good one: a bookstore owner who had a bunch of life disasters happen to him and he starts to isolate himself from everyone. A mysterious package arrives and gives him the opportunity to start his life again. It’s supposed to be “an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.”
I LOVE AND LIVE FOR THESE STORIES. Sometimes I just need a quick, quirky, predictable story to plow through. Plus it’s about a guy WHO OWNS A BOOKSTORE! I thought for sure that there was no way that I could not love this book. I don’t think I have ever hated a book more in my entire life. There are books where I start it and I’m not really into it, but I would still go back to it at another point of my life. Not this one. I thought that the writing was horrible, all the naming of authors and books sounded more pretentious than as if it were supposed to be a natural part of the story. Then it got to the point where the author writes about Amelia, the book sales rep, makes $37,000 a year and it just hit a nerve and I said no to finishing this. It felt like she was trying to hard to make this book likeable.

Of what I did read, I enjoyed that Amelia was a book snob, which I could relate to. I knew someone who only read non-fictional books and it was really hard not to judge them for that and remember that at least they were reading. But it’s really hard for me to understand how people don’t read at all or why they read if not to be transported to another world, to someone else’s life. I mean, yes, we read for knowledge. But I mean, all this person read was non-fictional books. Trying not to be judge-y…And also I agree that on some things, you can be a snob about it.

  • 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.
  • Amelia: “Do you remember when I said I worked in publishing and you said you weren’t much of a reader?” “You’re a snob,” [Boyd] concludes. “About some things, I suppose I am.”

I also liked the observation that it’s better to be alone than settle for someone or something because you were lonely, or afraid to be alone. I know a lot of people who have done this and I don’t understand that either. Why would someone choose to settle at the expense of your own happiness?:

  • Amelia the bright-sider believes it is better to be alone than to be with someone who doesn’t share your sensibilities and interests.

And I liked this just because I agree that books are totally personal:

  • He [AJ Fikry] had spent hours with the man over the last half-dozen years. They had only discussed books but what, in this life, is more personal than books?

Has anyone read this? Did you like? And why or why not?

 

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