I just finished reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin and I’m gobsmacked by a sense of unfairness. How could they up and leave me, these characters I followed for so many years? (It’s a sign of a good book when I put it down feeling heartbroken.)
A.J. Fikry is a widower, a snob, and a curmudgeon. But, most of all, he’s a bookseller and a reader. After his wife’s untimely death, he mans the bookstore he and his spouse opened on Alice Island, a (fictional) small town off the coast of Boston, alone. With a knack for recommending books and drinking himself to sleep, he’s the sort of protag you’d want at your local purveyor of literature but, perhaps, not the sort to whom you’d want to try selling a YA novel or befriend. When Fikry finds two-year-old Maya abandoned in his store with only a note from her mother and a knapsack, everything changes. This is where the story truly began for me. We follow his life and those of his intimate circle as he picks up the pieces. There’s intrigue surrounding Maya’s parentage, a love that takes years to arrive, a rare book robbery, and so so much more. This is a story for book lovers–I take unchecked pleasure in finding book mentions in fiction narratives and this one has it in spades.
I’ve found myself reading more diversely and am learning that I enjoy whimsical, heartfelt slice of life fiction more than I thought I would. I usually go in for the epic and fantastic, but intimate, insular tales of lives lived contemporaneously are giving me the feels lately. In the words of a favorite songstress, “them heavy people hit me in a soft spot.” Not to be misleading–this book has heart-wrenching moments dealing with fatherhood, loss, and relationships, but wry humor softens the blows and the sorrows are as sweet as they can be bitter.
I decided to read this book because it was in my Audible recommendations and the summary alluded to a bookish story, but otherwise I didn’t know what I was getting into. I’d just come off reading Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and while this book shares genre similarities, Fikry proved a good balance to Groff’s more drastic and painful tale of life and love.
In my movie version of Zevin’s novel, I cast Ben Kingsley as Fikry, Amandla Stenberg as Maya, and Charlize Theron as Amelia.
I’ve been really bad about posting my Read to Draw stuff here. I’m making up by posting a few at once!
My most recent is an ink drawing of Melanie from The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey–a zombie book I could not put down. I really didn’t care what happened to anyone else in the story as long as Melanie survived. Is that terrible?
H is for Hawk is a moody memoir about depression and loss, and a book that made me wish I’d taken up falconry. While I have no experience in training a goshawk, Helen Macdonald’s experiences in coping with depression resonated with me. I drew this while visiting family in Tucson, Arizona–it seemed, oddly, the right atmosphere.
I had such a hard time drawing something for Seraphina! I don’t know why. I think I wanted to do something conceptually interesting to fit the complexity and coolness of this dragon tale but I couldn’t make up my mind. So here’s this. Seraphina is a beautifully-written YA fantasy.
I’m finishing up Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. Should be an interesting challenge for the next set!
Once again, I’ll be hosting Book Riot‘s Read Harder book group in Los Angeles at Stories Books and Cafe in Echo Park on Saturday, November 21 at 1:00 p.m.!
I hope you’ll join me to chatter about books. By then I’ll be 21-days-deep in NaNoWriMo and might not make much sense, but I’ll do my best at coherency.
Click here to RSVP!
I’ll also be in New York in November for Book Riot Live! I’ve never been to New York and fear I’ll get lost on a subway and have a sort of “Adventures in Babysitting” style caper…
But here’s hoping my navigational skills and glasses remain intact.
I can’t do it! My problem is that I take on too much and can’t sustain. And because of this, The Weirdo’s Guide to Wordeating, my still-new booktube channel, is moving to Periscope, the livestreaming app.
I tried YouTube and I couldn’t keep up with the production time. Maybe if I had a team of elves… With Periscope, I can shoot and send on the fly. No editing.
If you’re on Periscope, find me and my book blather at szainabwilliams. I think I can upload the videos too, which might happen if I figure that out.
I hosted my first book group ever with Book Riot’s Read Harder Book Group in Los Angeles. This crazy city was one of the launch locations, but keep an eye out for groups in your area.
Blazing heat aside, we had a wonderful and lively chat about a diverse list of books and I walked away with an even longer to-buy list (The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson was the big take-away). I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on book groups all my life.
I also met a blog friend at the event! The lovely Bibliosa graced us with her presence, and I’m so glad I got to meet her in person. You should definitely check out her blog for book recs.
If you live around the L.A.-area, please join us! There’s no set list–talk about anything you’re reading.
Click here to RSVP for the next event on Saturday, October 17 at 1:00 p.m. at Stories Books and Cafe. And if you have any tips for hosting book groups, do tell!