...then you need to pick up The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry! It's definitely a book for book lovers. I know that I absolutely delighted in the mentions of other books throughout, and the idea that relationships can be built around and by a love of reading is truly uplifting and unifying. If the novel itself is a bit light on plot--and the reader can tell what's going to happen in advance--it's more than made up in the engaging writing and the depth of feeling that flies through the pages.
The story is pretty basic: A.J. Fikry owns the only bookstore on the fictional Alice Island off the East Coast, and he is miserable after the death of his wife. That all changes with the appearance of a toddler left in the shop one night, and before he knows it, A.J.'s opened his heart in more ways than one. Also intertwined with the central story is Ismay, A.J.'s former sister-in-law, herself a victim of a loveless marriage, and Chief Lambiase, the lonely policeman who somehow begins his own book club. There's a mystery, too: A.J. was once in possession of a first edition copy of Edgar Allen Poe's first novel, Tamerlane, but the book goes missing early on. Will it ever be found? As the story progresses, I found myself less interested in the missing book as the lives and personalities of the characters take center stage...and then, bam! the book's back in the spotlight and I was as excited about it as I was in the beginning.
So what makes the story so special? Well, there are some lines that are just gems, such as "We are not quite novels. We are not quite short stories. In the end, we are collected works." Little lines that just sneak up and then hit you full force with their honesty are peppered throughout. But mostly it's the characters, who are flawed, real, charming, and human. It could be anyone's life; it could be my life. And if it was my life, I'd say it was a good one indeed. Just read it. You'll be glad you did.