Gabrielle Zevin’s new ode to the noble bookseller, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, is chockful of bookish allusions, and will enchant any lover of reading. At the center of this love letter to reading is the crotchety, down-on-his-luck bookstore owner A.J. Fikry, still dealing with the death of his young wife. Enter a surprise package and a perky, quirky book rep…and what comes next is touching, funny nerdbait.
It’s just the latest entry in the fine tradition of Books For Book People. Below, we’ve rounded up some of our other favorites in that fine canon.
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
Bradbury’s most nightmarish story presents the dystopia to end all dystopias and brings a chill to the heart of readers everywhere. Book burner Guy Montag’s struggle gets a boost every Banned Books Month, but it’s a dazzling read for all seasons.
Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell
Fangirl has the distinction of being the first best-seller written about the great unwashed fanfic masses in a post–Harry Potter world. Reluctant college freshman Cath and her addiction to writing fanfic about the Potter-esque Simon Snow series ground this coming-of-age story for the Tumblr generation—it might hit a little close to home, actually.
The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
If I were going to invent a subgenre, let’s call it Gothic book noir, this Barcelona-set, twisty-turny, darkly magic series would be the first entry. Even translated from the original Spanish, Zafon’s prose moves on the page like Monet’s paintbrush on a nice spring day. It helps that the action centers on the Sempere & Sons bookshop and, most importantly, the labyrinthine Cemetery of Forgotten Books, which, attention Universal Studios, is a theme park property just waiting for your attention.
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
You could read Zusak’s emotional roller coaster of a novel, centered on a young girl and her thieving quest for books in WWII Germany, or you could just punch yourself in the eyes repeatedly to achieve the end result more quickly. Cross-listed under Ugly Cry.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
It doesn’t take the big Google machine to discover why this fizzy tale of an unusual bookstore is so charming. The magical mystery of books is on bold display, reinforced with every visit by one of Penumbra’s odd customers. Sloan will leave you grinning with nuggets like this: “I’m really starting to think the whole world is just a patchwork quilt of crazy little cults, all with their own secret spaces, their own records, their own rules.”
The Bookman’s Tale, by Charlie Lovett
Widowed booksellers may be one of the more unusual trends in fiction, but there you have it. Peter Byerly is not A.J. Fikry, of course, and he’s got big fish to fry as he goes on a Shakespearean sleuthing spree to prove the veracity of the playwright’s work. He also happens to be on the highway to the danger zone, so gird your loins.
The Magicians series, by Lev Grossman
Fangirl is to Harry Potter as The Magicians is to (a more cynical) Chronicles of Narnia. Quentin Coldwater’s obsession with the magical land of Fillory, which he read about as a child, is something most can relate to. To discover that world is real? Well, that’s just magic.
Allison Hewitt Is Trapped, by Madeleine Roux
So it’s not strictly about books, per se, but Allison Hewitt does answer a very important question for most of us gathered here (because it’s so likely to be applicable): what happens if the zombie outbreak occurs while you’re in a bookstore? You kick butt, that’s what happens.
What’s your favorite book about books?