Every day I get an email from a service called, “Bookbub,” which lists special deals on digital books. Early on I would find a really good book, even books on my book wish list, so I bought a bunch. However, I’m a big supporter of actually books that I buy from independent booksellers and from the biannual book sales from the Pikes Peak Library District. So I made a rule that I’d only buy digital books at $1.99.
I found that Bookbub helped me stock up on non-fiction books on my list, like “Quiet,” “The Black Count,” “Wild,” Henrietta Lacks,” and “Thinking, Fast and Slow” … all great books, acclaimed and award-winning.
There are a lot of books, historically speaking. And only so many hours in a day, so I don’t want to read bad books. I do my research of must-read, best of lists, book reviews and so on. When I get to a bookstore or library sale, I can spot a great book from my wish list and research. But sometimes ‘great’ books aren’t great to me. All-time classics or modern classics can be award-winning, but over the years I’ve learned that the critics tend to honor books that ‘break the mold’ and discuss difficult subject matter. And sometime the acclaimed non-fiction books are written stiffly by super smart academics.
Bookbub has helped me to find new favorite books. Every once in a while a cover will catch my eye. Maybe it’s the title or the design or the tiny description, which might make me look deeper.
And I’ll take a chance on a new title. Doesn’t happen often.
Last year a couple books became new favorites, “The Art Forger” and “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.” So when a new book hit my email and the description said, “If you liked Harold Fry, you’ll like this book.”
You don’t need to hit me over the head.
I liked Harold Fry and I did like “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin. Here’s how much … I read the first 200 pages on my iPad on a flight from Colorado Springs to Los Angeles, like a hot knife through butter. I liked the characters, the setting and the story. And I liked the writing. It was simply and clearly written. After suffering through two books that were not simply and clearly written, “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” was a breath of fresh air.
The story focuses on reading, writing, books and stories, and the world of storytelling, book selling and a memorable scene involving an author’s reading. Many, maybe all of the main characters, are initially unwanted or misunderstood, and through a series of unlikely events, the evolve and find their place in the world.
From the Washington Post: “Gabrielle Zevin has done something old-fashioned and fairly rare these days. She has written an entertaining novel, modest in its scope, engaging and funny without being cloying or sentimental. On top of that, it is marvelously optimistic about the future of books and bookstores and the people who love both.”