Book#1 of 2020: The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry

A.J. Fikry owns a failing bookshop. His wife has just died, in tragic circumstances. His rare and valuable first edition has been stolen. His life is a wreck.

Amelia is a book rep, with a big heart, and a lonely life.

Maya is the baby left on A.J.’s bookshop floor with a note.

What happens in the bookshop that changes the lives of these seemingly normal but extraordinary characters?

A few days ago, I was going through difficult times, and in my Facebook group, I asked for the book suggestions—the kinds of books that give you a warm and snuggly feeling. This is one of the books that was suggested, and I think it was a good suggestion.


The story starts with a reclusive bookseller and a sales representative trying to sell some books to him. The initial chapters hook you in with different specific likes and dislikes of the bookshop owner. Slowly the story changes and morphs into a place where bookshops make a difference in the life of the people. A recluse bookshop starts getting more involved and the community starts coming together because of this. Life has not been easy for A.J. Fikry, but despite this, he manages to find the second chance, love, and a reason to live for. He manages to stitch the community together with his books and his big, grumpy heart.

What I loved

  1. The Positivity: As I wrote above, I picked up this story because I wanted to feel joy or warmth or some kind of positive feeling. I have been down for days now, and this book was supposed to be a step up from that depressed feeling. This book did not disappoint me in that respect. That makes it a very good book for me.
  2. Literary References: There are so many of them throughout the book. I am going to make this a mission for this year to read all the stories referenced in this book. That’s a 15-January kind of resolution.
  3. The feeling of connectedness: You know sometimes, you come across the stories where you feel a strong connection to the characters. This was that kind of book. I connected with so many lines in the books. Like this one sentence is going to be an answer for all the stupid excuses people try to make:

“A.J. nods out of politeness, but he doesn’t believe in random acts. He is a reader, and what he believes in is narrative construction. If a gun appears in act one, that gun had better go off by act three.”

Another one of the sentence that stood out for me was this:

“He has read enough to know there are no collections where each story is perfect. Some hits. Some misses. If you’re lucky, a standout. And in the end, people only really remember the standouts anyway, and they don’t remember those for very long.”

I can quote the whole book here, but the point is that I enjoyed reading these small nuggets of life wisdom.

What I did not Like

  1. Romance: I know it is essential for the story and all, but the chemistry didn’t flow out of the page for me, and that’s the kind of romance that doesn’t interest me.  
  2. Predictability: There are parts of the story which are predictable. I didn’t mind them while reading mostly because I was in a different frame of mind, but this is something that could be added to the unlikeable parts of the book.

Overall Opinion

This was a perfect first book of the year 2020. It lifted my spirits and made me smile while reading. I am thankful for this. I am rating it 3-star, but it would be half star extra just for making the beginning of the year better.

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