BOOK CLUB QUESTIONS: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry



Welcome to my questions on The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin



At the start of each chapter, A.J. recommends a story that encapsulates an important message he wishes to share with Maja. What book would top your version of his list?



The books mentioned at the start of each chapter are listed below. Have you read any of them? If so, did you find the message in them that A.J. intended for Maja? If not, are there any that you fancy reading?

Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl

The Diamond as Big as the Ritz by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Luck of Roaring Camp by Bret Harte

What Feels Like the World by Richard Bausch

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain

The Girls in Their Summer Dresses by Irwin Shaw

A Conversation with My Father by Grace Paley

A Perfect Day for Bananafish by J.D. Salinger

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

Ironhead by Aimee Bender

What We Talk about When We Talk about Love by Raymond Carver

The Bookseller by Roald Dahl



Why do you think A.J. decides to keep Maya? Do you think he and Amelia would have got together if he hadn’t?



When Maja’s doesn’t win the short story competition, A.J. tells her such contests are never fair. Amongst other things, he tells her… people like what they like… it’s about the personal taste of a certain set of people on a certain day. Do you think he is right? If a book has won a prize, does it draw you to read it?



When recommending The Girls in Their Summer Dresses, A.J. asks Mia, ‘Is a twist less satisfying if you know it’s coming? Is a twist that you can't predict symptomatic of bad construction?’

Do you like the gratification of guessing a twist or do you prefer them as a surprise?

And did you guess the identity of Maya’s father?



Do you think Daniel Parrish might have changed if he had survived the accident? Do you think people are capable of changing?



What do you think of Ismay's motivations for stealing Tamerlane? Should she pay for the crime she committed?



How would you describe the ending of this story? Sad that A.J. dies, or happy in the sense that life goes on and Island Books was taken over by another book lover?



A question for everyone – even if you didn’t read the book. This novel was published in 2013, so the author probably finished writing it around nine years ago. The ending relates to the arrival of the e-reader for the protagonist.  Surveys reveal that approximately 70% of people prefer the real deal over e-readers, but still, what do you think the future holds for physical books and bookstores?



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