PLOT: 4.5/5

There are many books that when you start reading, you find it a chore to go through the pages, hoping the story would either improve or end so that you can just be done with it.

There are other books that are page-turners, where you devour the book in no time. Both kinds of books are perhaps undesirable for complete satisfaction from reading. However, there are other books that are not boring or fast-paced.

They are nice and cosy to read, and when it’s over, you’ll discover they have cast a spell on you, and you won’t be able to get the book out of your head for the next few days.

Gabrielle Zevin’s “The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry” is one such book that leaves you spellbound and feeling good.

It is the story of a book store owner in a secluded town, A.J. Fikry who finds a 3-year-old baby by the name Maya in his store one day. He can’t find the mother and reluctantly agrees to take care of the child temporarily.

Having been alone since his wife’s death, he grows fond of the girl and raises her in his bookstore. How their lives turn out forms part of the story.

The story is not just about the 2 main protagonists. It also revolves around the entire book industry giving us a glimpse of how publicists, sales reps, book signing events, etc. all work.

It also shows us how snobbish people can seem when they do not approve of what others are reading. But there is not a single character in the entire book that you would hate, not even the constantly cheating brother in law of Fikry, who is a writer himself.

Not even the mother who left Maya to fend for herself, and not even the person who was responsible for her doing so.

A fantastic addition to the way the book was written was A.J. Fikry’s notes to Maya on why he likes certain books and his recommendations.

They give a wonderful understanding of how much thought goes into recommending a book and how personal it is when a person does that for you.

And the book is filled with some fantastic quotable quotes, with my favourite being –

You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question: “What is your favourite book?”

“The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry” is a book that is very real, and most people can relate to the events that take place. But at the same time, it is not too serious or depressing. It has the right balance and leaves you with a glow and warmth in your heart.