Reader's Comments
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin -Book Club Reading Guide

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

by Gabrielle Zevin

PBR Book Review:

There's something warm and fuzzy about reading a book that takes place in a bookstore. I always find these books fun to read, and I feel proud that I'm a reader. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry drops you in the middle of a quaint little bookstore on a small island near Cape Code. It's a delightful story where the owner receives an unexpected delivery upsetting his very solitary life. He's still grieving from the passing of his wife and reluctant to move forward. Yet, with a lovable cast of characters and some surprising plot twists, he does. I loved the author's writing style and how she makes many literary references throughout the book. It adds a beautiful element to the story. It's a quick, but emotional read and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Grab this one for your Book Club; there's a lot to discuss.





Book Club Talking Points:

This is an excellent read for book lovers because it takes place in a bookstore, so you will easily become immersed in the story. However, the real topic of conversation here is life and how it doesn't always go as planned.

| More Buy From Amazon.com


*Author Website: www.gabriellezevin.com

*Other Books by Same Author: The Hole We’re In, Margarettown

*Discussion Questions



1. At the beginning of the story, Amelia says she is considering quitting online dating. How would you compare the act of buying books online to the act of dating online? Is it relevant to the story that Amelia meets her eventual husband in a very analog location, a bookstore?

2. Consider the setting. Why do you think the author chooses to set the book on an island? How does the island setting reflect A.J.’s character?

3. Perhaps oddly, vampires are a recurring motif in the story: for example, when A.J.’s wife throws the vampire prom and when A.J. watches True Blood to court Amelia. What do you make of the references to vampires?

4. Lambiase moves from an occasional or nonreader, to a reader, to a bookseller. How do you think becoming a reader changes him? Consider the scene where he decides not to confront Ismay about the backpack. Do you think Lambiase’s reaction is different than it would have been if he hadn’t taken up reading?

5. The author chooses to begin each chapter with a description of a short story. Discuss some of the ways the stories relate to the chapters with which they are paired. Is A.J. creating a canon for Maya? How does the book itself function as a kind of canon? If these are A.J.’s favorites, what do they say about A.J. as a reader and as a man?

6. Did you find Ismay’s motivations for stealing Tamerlane to be forgivable? How do you think she should pay for her crime? Why do you think Lambiase lets her off?

7. At one point, Maya speculates that perhaps “your whole life is determined by what store you get left in” (page 85). Is it the people or the place that makes the difference?

8. When did you become aware that Leon Friedman might be an imposter? What did you make of Leonora Ferris’s reasons for hiring him?

9. How do you think Daniel Parrish might have changed if he had lived? Do you think some people never change?

10. Were you surprised by the outcome of the short story contest? What do you think of A.J.’s comments to Maya about why certain books and stories win prizes and others don’t? Does the knowledge that a book has won a prize attract you to reading it?

11. Compare Maya’s “fiction” about the last day of her mother’s life to Ismay’s version. Which do you consider to be more accurate and why?

12. How do you think the arrival of the e-reader is related to the denouement of the story? Is A.J. a man who cannot exist in a world with e-books? What do you think of e-books? Do you prefer reading in e- or on paper?

13. At one point, A.J. asks Maya, “Is a twist less satisfying if you know it’s coming? Is a twist that you can’t predict symptomatic of bad construction?” What do you think of this statement in view of the plot of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry? Did you guess who Maya’s father was? If so, what were the clues?

14. The author chooses to end the novel with a new sales rep coming to an Island Books that is no longer owned by A.J. What do you make of this ending?

15. What do you think the future holds for physical books and bookstores?

Book Summary

Algonquin 1st Edition edition (December 2, 2014) – Fiction – 288 pages
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.