Top 100s, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry




I recently was banging on about The Poisonwood Bible, having successfully managed to foist a copy on a colleague: one more glorious soul in my lifelong mission to get everyone to read it.

“I like it,” another colleague said.  “It’s one of my top 100.”

“Top 100!” I spluttered.  “Top 5! What?”

“Perhaps higher,” she said, “But I have a top 100.”

Upon light interrogation, it transpired that this colleague only keeps her top 100 books.  If she reads something good enough to enter it, she has to throw another one out.  My mind boggled in fervour and fascination.  What rigour! What strictness! What application!

I had to have a picture, and I had to share it with you, up top.  Regard! Every ONE has earned its place!

I already knew I liked her.  But consider the instant bond when I saw such delights as The Goldfinch, Wolf Hall, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Gatsby and Brideshead Revisited in there.  Sure, there was judgement too. A top 100 place to A Thousand Splendid Suns?  No!  Did she REALLY like the deathly Anna Karenina? For me there is upwards of three weeks of solid conversation material on her selection.

Did I mention it was alphabetised?


Anyway, what of A.J. Fikry?

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Well, there’s a reason it’s getting second billing in this post.  In Waterstone’s one errant Abergavenny morning, I asked the friendly shop assistant for a recommendation.  I don’t know why I’m still doing that; when she enthusiastically bee-lined to this canary yellow effort I struggled to keep my smile and, let’s be honest, probably raised both eyebrows in faux-enthusiasm (no one raises both eyebrows with true enthusiasm.)  When she explained it was about someone running a bookshop I felt like it would be spitting in her face to say it didn’t sound interesting so reader, I bought it.  And reader, it’s fine.  It’s light, it’s fine, it’s moderately charming, it even has a twist (ok, maybe a kink) or two.  But you fine, literarily-engaged, blog-reading people of the internet can do better.   So go – do – alphabetise! And tell me what makes the cut.



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