Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Book Review: The Storied Life of AJ Fikry

I was just looking back on my blog, and it's been years since I've done a book review. I've gotten lazy, apparently. So tonight I'm going to remedy that, not just for the sake of doing a book review, but because I finished The Storied Life of AJ Fikry today and I just have to write about it.

When I started it yesterday, I thought I was reading a book Amy had reviewed and I had requested from my library: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye. However, the first paragraph of The Storied Life of AJ Frikry seemed so unlike the book I remembered from the review, I had to think for a minute. Eventually I remembered reading about AJ Fikry from somewhere on NPR or Amazon...I can't remember which. Either way, I'm so glad I found this book, because I enjoyed immensely.

One of my favorite things to do when I go into someone's home is to read what books are on their shelves. It is possible to tell so much about a person if you know what they read. Plus, if they are readers, I naturally have a language to talk to them in; their reactions to certain titles tell so much about their personality and their worldview. Telling another person what your favorite book is about as honest as you can be.

AJ Fikry is the owner of a small bookstore; he has definite opinions on books and their reader. The people who come into his bookstore are interesting and real. I don't want to ruin the book by giving too much of the story away. What I loved is that it is a book about books and reading and readers. I laughed out loud at some of the quotes in it; these are some of my favorites.

"Her mother likes to say that novels have ruined Amelia for real men." (Amy and I were just texting about this last night.)

"I've never really liked babies...Conversations with her lacks to say the least. We talk about Elmo, and I can't stand him by the way, but other than that, it's mainly about her. She's totally self-centered. (Yes, children are remarkable self-centered. As are preteens, as I'm coming to find out...)

"I've always wanted to try Turkish Delight in Narnia. When I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a boy, I used to the think that Turkish Delight must be incredibly delicious if it made Edmund betray his family....I guess I must have told my wife this, because one year Nic gets a box for me for the holidays. And it turned out to be this powdery, gummy candy. I don't think I've ever been so disappointed in my life." (I'm can totally relate to the this - I'm heartbroken to find this out - I always imagined it like some Narnian form of General Tao's chicken. Boo that it's just candy, boo!)

"'The last thing I read...the last thing I read was this menu.' 'And the last thing I read  was your necklace.' he says. 'Maria.' The meal is perfectly cordial after that. He will never find out what Maria reads."

And, my very favorite: "Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." (Because how true is that? How perfect is it to read the exact book you need at the exact point in time you need it? It has happened to me more times than I can count.)

It is a tiny little book, only 258 pages; I read it in less than 24 hours, and went to work in during those 24 hours. I loved the story, I loved the characters, I loved the way that it made me feel connected to others simply through the act of reading.