The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is the official March 2015 pick for the Peanut Blossom Book Club for Recovering Readers.
Welcome to the March book club guide for the Peanut Blossom Book Club for Recovering Readers!
This month's pick is: "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry."
I've learned an important lesson this month: being part of a book club and discussing a book with other readers is an important part of the experience for me.
I had mixed feelings when I finished this selection but once I wrote all of our discussion questions and started thinking more about how all the plot elements tied together, my opinion changed and I am loving the story so much more now that I've thought it through.
This likely would't have happened without our group.
I chose this book because it seemed like the perfect selection for a book club & group of avid book lovers but I found the narrative to have significant jolts and jumps.
In hindsight the bumps make sense, but they made for a somewhat jarring reading experience.
I think this book falls into a rare category for me: Books I'd Like To Read a Second Time.
I feel like knowing the entire tale would make for an interesting new perspective on the events if I started back over from the beginning.
I'm excited to see how discussion works out for this selection and discover what you thought!
If you're just finding our group now, you are invited to jump right in with our current pick.
Peanut Blossom Book Club
This book club pick is one of the awesome books from our first year of book club.
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What is The Storied Life of AJ Fikry About?
“Funny, tender, and moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry reminds us all exactly why we read and why we love.”
A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen.
But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over--and see everything anew."
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry Book Club Discussion Questions
I believe the best book club questions to spark a lively discussion in your group help readers make personal connections to the story.
You can read about how to write the best book club questions on your own here, but hopefully these will get you started!
In "The Storied Life of AJ Fikry", each chapter begins with a book recommendation that illustrates something important AJ wants to share with his daughter. Which 3 books would you put on your own version of his list? And why?
What do AJ's book preferences say about him? What do your book preferences say about you?
Why do you think Gabrielle Zevin chose to set the book on an island? How does the island setting reflect A.J.'s character?
At one point, Maya speculates that perhaps "your whole life is determined by what store you get left in". Is it the people or the place that makes the difference? Do you think she was destined to become a writer from the very beginning or do you think it was the influence of the adults in her life?
Did A.J.'s decision to keep Maya surprise you? How did her addition to his family change the course of his life?
"They had only ever discussed books but what, in this life, is more personal than books?"
Amelia and A.J. have a unique courtship. Do you think they were meant for one another? How did you feel about their long-distance romance?
A.J. is disdainful of popular books & television until he forces himself to try them for Maya and Amelia (children's books & "True Blood").
Is popular something we should consider "bad" or "wrong"?
Why do you think AJ feels this way?
What is your reaction to the latest popular hit--eager to try it or actively avoid it?
Were you surprised by the outcome of the short story contest?
What do you think of A.J.'s comments to Maya about why certain books and stories win prizes and others don't?
Does the knowledge that a book has won a prize attract you to reading it?
"The things we respond to at twenty are not necessarily the same things we we'll respond to at forty and vice versa. This is true in books and also in life."
Have you revisited an old favorite and discovered it didn't hold your interest like it once did?
Or, like AJ, have you found a new appreciation for something you didn't enjoy in your youth?
What is it and why do you think your feelings changed?
"We agree to be disappointed sometimes so that we can be exhilarated every now and again."
What are some of the examples of this quote in action in the book? Do you agree with it?
Compare Maya's "fiction" about the last day of her mother's life to Ismay's version. Which do you consider to be more accurate and why?
At one point, A.J. asks Maya, "Is a twist less satisfying if you know it's coming? Is a twist that you can't predict symptomatic of bad construction?"
What do you think of this quote in relation to the book?
Did you guess who Maya's father was? If so, what were the clues?
Did you find Ismay's motivations for stealing Tamerlane to be forgivable?
How do you think she should pay for her crime?
Why do you think Lambiase lets her off?
Lambiase moves from an occasional or nonreader, to a reader, to a bookseller. How do you think becoming a reader changes him?
The purpose behind our book club is to help former readers rediscover their love. How do you think phases of life affect your desire and ability to read?
How do you think the arrival of the e-reader is related to the conclusion of the story?
Is A.J. a man who cannot exist in a world with e-books or do you think he eventually would have made peace with them?
Do you agree with A.J.?
The author chooses to end the novel with a new sales rep coming to an Island Books that is no longer owned by A.J.
What do you make of this ending? How would you describe the ending to a friend: Happy, Sad, or _________?
What do you think the future holds for physical books and bookstores?
Book Club Party Menu
As part of the plot of this month's book, Amelia serves a special dinner to AJ Fikry when he comes to visit.
For your book club party you could recreate this easy dinner party menu in honor of the story!
Serve a sausage lasagna and homemade garlic bread just like Amelia but add a very simple Caesar salad and my favorite make-ahead tiramisu for a special dessert.
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