Getting back into the swing of things each week is hard. So is finding the quiet time to write a review over the weekend. In order to ease out of the weekend, I’ve decided to begin my blogging week with a mini review.
I took a lot of things away from my Booktopia weekend in Asheville in August. Books, bookish swag, memories with great friends, some time with Zelda, and more books. One book that I didn’t pick up but wouldn’t let me go was The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry. Luckily I’m an audiobook fan and I happened to have had some extra credits handy. Had I known that Scott Brick narrated the book I never would have considered buying it in print in the first place. On top of that, it makes for an excellent read this time of year.
A. J. Fikry is a curmudgeon. His worldview leeches into the book store he owns and operates. He didn’t start his life or his business in that way, but when he loses his beloved wife, he lost his joy even for those things he once loved. Booze, routine, making book reps’ lives miserable, and crankiness become his staples. When a young mother, determined to make a better life for her infant daughter, leaves her baby in A. J.’s bookstore, she threw his life into a tailspin. It was at this point I had to make a decision as a reader: suspend my disbelief and continue to follow Zevin’s beautiful story or to be a curmudgeon not unlike A. J. himself. I chose the former and I never looked back. Giving yourself over to a story can lead to some of the most fulfilling reading experiences you can have.
Scott Brick is one of the most versatile and dynamic audiobook narrators around. With his voice and a good book such as In Cold Blood, he has the power to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. With his work on Ethan Frome I could almost reach out and touch the resentment and regret. Now, with The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, Brick’s performance made me laugh out loud at A. J.’s cynicism and then brought tears to my eyes along the way as he learned how to love again. It is after listening to work like this that makes me say, “What an audiobook!” as I come back up for air.
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is a book you won’t soon forget. You’ll count yourself doubly blessed if you read it in audio with Scott Brick.