Gabrielle Zevin, the author of “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry,” has written a love letter to people who love the written word. It is a simple story about a man, A.J. Fikry, who owns a bookstore and mourns his dead wife, who he loved very much. His life is quiet and ordered, and, he thinks, satisfying. Until he finds a young girl, Maya, who has been abandoned in his store. He eventually adopts her, and his growing love for her gives him purpose and makes him realize that he might just want more from life.
Each chapter starts with a paragraph or two that A.J. has written to his daughter about a particular book or short story and what it has meant to him. He makes the point that books mean different things to us at different points of our lives, a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree. He says this to his daughter at the end: “We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. My life is in these books. Read these and know my heart. We are not quite novels. We are not quite short stories. In the end, we are collected works.” A.J. Fikry’s thoughts on reading and books and their place in our lives warmed my heart and made me so grateful all over again that I have, all my life, found comfort and peace in books.