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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel by…
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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Robin Sloan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,8552592,033 (3.9)3 / 369
Member:aipotu
Title:Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel
Authors:Robin Sloan
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2012), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**1/2
Tags:None

Work details

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

  1. 153
    The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (derelicious)
    derelicious: Both are books about books, with secret societies and mysteries to untangle. The Shadow of the Wind is more gothic and takes place during the Spanish Civil War, and Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is lighter and takes place in modern times.
  2. 60
    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (bucketyell, bookworm12)
  3. 40
    The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (SqueakyChu)
  4. 30
    The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (Anonymous user)
  5. 10
    The Writer & The Witch by Robin Sloan (MitraLibrary)
  6. 10
    The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard (Anonymous user)
  7. 10
    Shelf Monkey by Corey Redekop (nsblumenfeld)
  8. 00
    The Seance Society: A Mystery (O'Nelligan and Plunkett) by Michael Nethercott (4leschats)
    4leschats: The older/younger man relationship is similar along with the quirky cast of characters, light tone, and humor throughout.
  9. 00
    A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé (lycomayflower)
  10. 00
    Lexicon by Max Barry (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Both books are non-traditional geeky mystery/thrillers.
  11. 00
    The Book in the Renaissance by Andrew Pettegree (librorumamans)
    librorumamans: This is the real deal: a thoroughly researched, non-fiction treatment, with particular emphasis on the influence of printing on European culture.
  12. 00
    Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (Runa)
  13. 015
    Voice from the Planet by Charles Degelman (simonew)
    simonew: FREE till April 1 'Book of the Month' globetrotting anthology VOICE FROM THE PLANET read excerpt http://ow.ly/juCFD
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English (253)  Dutch (3)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (259)
Showing 1-5 of 253 (next | show all)
I loved the opening paragraph and chapters, but the story bogged down a little in the middle - too techy for my tastes, though I liked the characters. Clay had such a good heart throughout. That made the story for me. ( )
  bookwren | Jul 28, 2014 |
The story begins with an unemployed young techie with an art school degree who spends his days browsing the web for want-ads, among other things, and reading--mostly the latter. He is Clay Jannon and his life is changed when he starts walking around his home base of San Francisco and happens upon a strange-looking bookstore with a sign in the window:
"HELP WANTED: Late Shift, Specific Requirements, Good Benefits"
The name of the bookstore is "Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore".
The adventure Clay begins when he decides to take that job is initially beyond his imagination. It combines elements of fantasy, mystery, friendship and adventure as a way of looking at the modern conflict and transition between new technology (electronic) and old (print books). It requires him to cooperate and sometimes scheme with new friends in pursuing elusive clues. At the heart of the novel is the collision of that old-world handwork and the automated digital age.

The new technology is very Google-oriented as Clay, soon after becoming comfortable in his new job, meets a Google employee named Kat who impresses him with her programming ability. Clay is forbidden to open the books yet required to describe the borrowers in great detail to the owner, Alex Penumbra. Late-night boredom catalyzes his curiosity, and soon Clay discovers that the books are part of a vast code. And it is not long before they are investigating the secrets of the strange bookstore. For it is strange in that it sells very few books and seems to exist for a mysterious society of book lovers who form a club that has access to private stacks in the back of the store. The secrets hidden in the books stretch back to the initial revolution in printing started by Gutenberg. It is this and other mysteries that create the suspense that sustains this lightweight but definitely interesting first novel.

Intertwined among the mysteries is Clay's love for an obscure fantasy novel by Clark Moffat called The Dragon-Song Chronicles. There is no way to say much more about the complicated plot without giving away too much of the enjoyment of discovering along with Clay the secrets behind the 24-Hour Bookstore.
This is an entertaining book that will appeal to both fantasy lovers and those who like mysteries. With its focus on the latest internet technology the story presents an interesting analogy between the printing revolution begun by Gutenberg and the digital revolution in books as it is being promoted by Google and other internet behemoths. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jul 27, 2014 |
I read this one and Ready Player One back to back--how's that for geek reading heaven?

This needs to be a movie. You have the Everyman protagonist, the brilliant love interest, the best bud from middle school, the mysterious bookshop owner, messages from the past, a vast conspiracy that might or might not be eeeeevil, and a race to find the way to immortality. What else do you need?

I'm telling you, it would be a hit. Somebody get on this! ( )
  pfflyernc | Jul 25, 2014 |
An old, dusty, unending bookstore is enough to draw me in to read a book. I enjoyed the story, the pace, and the book kept me interested to read straight through, which is rare for me. I dont recall that the characters were well developed, but this didnt seem to matter. The story was interesting and kept me turning pages to learn some secrets. Overall, I enjoyed the book very much.
As I really love bookstores, mysteries, and a mystic aura, this would be a prime set up for disappointment, but this book did not disappoint at all.
I would read another story of Mr. Sloans without hesitation. ( )
  pife43 | Jul 23, 2014 |
"What would a wizard read?" "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" looks for the answer, everywhere from the halls of Google to the secret underground lair of a shadowy book cult. An engaging thriller, a meditation on reading, a sometimes whimsical romance, "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore " is the most entertaining , satisfying book I've read in a long time. ( )
  HenryKrinkle | Jul 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 253 (next | show all)
Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore flourishes in the nebulous terrain between super-powered digital information and the text warriors of yore. It rocks in terms of crazy imaginative leaps and is so optimistic about the longevity of books in print that it makes bibliophiles like me positively clap with glee. It does have its share of shortcomings though, but more on that later.
added by SimoneA | editThe Express Tribune, Anam Haq (Nov 10, 2013)
 
And if, in the end, the plot doesn’t entirely satisfy – the love story is a little weak, the 500-year old mystery rather too neatly solved – this novel’s ideas will linger long in the mind.
 
“Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” is eminently enjoyable, full of warmth and intelligence. Sloan balances a strong plot with philosophical questions about technology and books and the power both contain. The prose maintains an engaging pace as Clay, Mr. Penumbra and the quirky constellation of people around them try to determine what matters more — the solution to a problem or how that solution is achieved.
added by SimoneA | editNew York Times, Roxane Gay (Dec 14, 2012)
 
I loved diving into the world that Sloan created, both the high-tech fantasyland of Google and the ancient analog society. It’s packed full of geeky allusions and wonderful characters, and is a celebration of books, whether they’re made of dead trees or digits.
added by ablachly | editWired, Jonathan Liu (Oct 6, 2012)
 
This winning literary adventure, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, has all the elements of geek hipsterdom: fantasy novels, role-playing games, computer coding, and classic typography.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin Sloanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Corral, RodrigoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fliakos, AriNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kagan, AbbyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
FOR BETTY ANN AND JIM
First words
Lost in the shadows of the shelves, I almost fall off the ladder.
Quotations
Now I've resigned myself to sitting at the front desk, but I can't stop squirming. If fidgets were Wikipedia edits, I would have completely revamped the entry on guilt by now, and translated it into five new languages.
You know, 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.
He has the strangest expression on his face -- the emotive equivalent of 404 PAGE NOT FOUND.
Now, for the first time in my life, I empathize 100 percent with Fluff McFly. My heart is beating at hamster-speed and I am throwing my eyes around the room, looking for some way out.
There is no immortality that is not built on friendship and work done with care.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco web-design drone — and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey have landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything. Instead, they "check out" impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger. Soon Clay has embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping him figure out just what is going on. And when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.

With irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan has crafted a literary adventure story for the twenty-first century, evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or the young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that is rare to the world of literary fiction. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave, a modern-day cabinet of wonders ready to give a jolt of energy to every curious reader, no matter the time of day.

TEXT EDITION:

CLAY JANNON, twenty-six and unemployed, reads books about vampire policemen and teenage wizards. Familiar, predictable books that fit neatly into a section at the bookstore. But he is about to encounter a new species of book entirely: secret, strange and frantically sought after.

These books will introduce him to the strangest, smartest girl he's ever met. They will lead him across the country, through the shadowed spaces where old words hide. They will set him on a quest to unlock a secret held tight since the time of Gutenberg - a secret that touches us all.
But before that, these books will get him a job.
Haiku summary
Mystery Bookstore
needed better ending but
still amusing read.
(legallypuzzled)
Every time Google

pauses, I shall think fondly

of men in black cowls.

(legallypuzzled)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374214913, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2012 (Debut Spotlight): Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is an old school mystery set firmly in tech-loving, modern day San Francisco. Clay Jannon (former web designer) lands a job at a bookstore with very few patrons and even fewer purchases. His curiosity leads him to the discovery of a larger conspiracy at play, one exciting enough to rope in his best friend (CEO at a startup) and love interest (works at Google). As Clay and company unravel the puzzles of Mr. Penumbra's book shop, the story turns into a sort of nerdy heist, with real-life gadgets, secret societies, and a lot of things to say about the past, present, and future of reading. Sloan originally self-published Mr. Penumbra as a short story through Kindle Direct Publishing, before expanding it to its current form with a traditional print publisher--a fitting trajectory for a fast, fun story that has so wholly and enthusiastically embraced the tension between the digital and analog books. --Kevin Nguyen

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:12 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

After a layoff during the Great Recession sidelines his tech career, Clay Jannon takes a job at the titular bookstore in San Francisco, and soon realizes that the establishment is a facade for a strange secret.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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