Published by Algonquin Books on April 1st 2014
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We are not quite novels.
We are not quite short stories.
In the end, we are collected works.
A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died; his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history; and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, he can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.
And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, though large in weight—an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world. Or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming.
I wanted to love this book but I thought it was so so. It was a quick, cute read but nothing out of this world. By the number of quotes I have included you would think I fell in love with it. I did enjoy the writing & characters but the story was way too fast paced for me. I feel like had the author made it a longer book and spent more time on the details of things that happened in the character’s lives I would have liked it much more. It felt rushed to me. It could have easily been a 400+ page book and would have been better in my eyes. What I did love was the idea of owning and living above a bookstore. I mean that would be my dream come true. To just be able to go downstairs and pick out a book to read among the hundreds of other books just sounds so blissful. In my area there aren’t many small bookstores that are quaint and not a huge franchises. I would love to have more of those around. Unfortunately because of places like Amazon those are slowly going away. 🙁
Overall if you want a quick, decent read this is a good option.
“Sometimes books don’t find us until the right time.”
“When she told me it was her favorite, it suggested to me strange and wonderful things about her character that I had not guessed, dark places that I might like to visit. People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?”
“The words you can’t find, you borrow.
We read to know we’re not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone.
My life is in these books, he wants to tell her. Read these and know my heart.
We are not quite novels.
The analogy he is looking for is almost there.
We are not quite short stories. At this point, his life is seeming closest to that.
In the end, we are collected works.”
“We aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on”
“Remember, Maya: the things we respond to at twenty are not necessarily the same things we will respond to at forty and vice versa. This is true in books and also in life.”
“It is the secret fear that we are unlovable that isolates us,” the passage goes, “but it is only because we are isolated that we think we are unlovable. Someday, you do not know when, you will be driving down a road. And someday, you do not know when, he, or indeed she, will be there. You will be loved because for the first time in your life, you will truly not be alone. You will have chosen to not be alone.”
“Someday, you may think of marrying. Pick someone who thinks you’re the only person in the room.”
“Why is any one book different from any other book? They are different, A.J. decides, because they are. We have to look inside many. We have to believe. We agree to be disappointed sometimes so that we can be exhilarated every now and again.”
“Most people’s problems would be solved if they would only give more things a chance.”
“A question I’ve thought about a great deal is why it is so much easier to write about the things we dislike/hate/acknowledge to be flawed than the things we love.”
“I’ve been a police officer for twenty years now and I’ll tell you, pretty much every bad thing is life is a result of bad timing, and every good thing is the result of good timing.”
“No one travels without purpose. Those who are lost wish to be lost.”
“He knows she isn’t perfect. She knows he definitely isn’t perfect. They know there’s no such thing as perfect.”