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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel by…

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

by Robin Sloan, Ari Fliakos (Narrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,6213311,456 (3.88)3 / 443
Title:Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel
Authors:Robin Sloan
Other authors:Ari Fliakos (Narrator)
Info:audible.com from Macmillan audio
Collections:Your library
Tags:audiobook, audible.com, Ari Fliakos, fiction, fantasy, books, hi-tech, San Francisco

Work details

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

  1. 214
    The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (derelicious, BookshelfMonstrosity)
    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.
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Although they have very different settings (1950s Spain in Shadow of the Wind and modern San Francisco in Mr. Penumbra's), these adventure stories, with underpinnings of romance, offer unique perspectives on the role of books and reading in our lives.… (more)
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    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (bucketyell, bookworm12)
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    The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (Anonymous user)
  5. 10
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    aethercowboy: Both books deal with a fictional fantasy series that holds a lot of significance to the story.
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  7. 10
    A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé (lycomayflower)
  8. 10
    Lexicon by Max Barry (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Both books are non-traditional geeky mystery/thrillers.
  9. 10
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    The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (generalkala)
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    librorumamans: This is the real deal: a thoroughly researched, non-fiction treatment, with particular emphasis on the influence of printing on European culture.
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    The Seance Society by Michael Nethercott (4leschats)
    4leschats: The older/younger man relationship is similar along with the quirky cast of characters, light tone, and humor throughout.
  19. 016
    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 (321)  Dutch (3)  German (2)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  Piratical (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (330)
Showing 1-5 of 321 (next | show all)
As so many people in this day and age Clay Jannon must give up doing what he loves (web design) and go out and find a job that pays a little more regularly. Problem is there are not that many jobs out there that would “fit”. Happenstance leads him through the door of Mr. Penumbra’s bookstore and when his accepts the slightly unorthodox position (night clerk) he has no idea that he is about to embark on a quest. Clay notices immediately that the store has few customers but that they seem to come back regularly. When he starts getting a little bored with his night shift he cannot help but snoop around a little and he discovers that this bookstore hides many secrets and, is in fact, one of many doorways for members of a secret society t pass messages. Through circumstances and curiosity it falls to Clay to find not only the key to the secret code, but maybe to eternal life.

I enjoyed the story and thought parts were unique and fresh. I really enjoyed the concept of mega computer giant “Google” playing off against good old-fashioned detective work to solve the puzzle. I loved the insight into books and their importance whether paper or digital. I even liked Clay and his friends. This book has received rave reviews everywhere. I wish I could rah-rah for five stars as well but I can honestly only eke out four.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
So far, this has been the most entertaining book I've read this year. It was exactly the diverting and fun tale I needed.

I don't know if author Robin Sloan grew up playing video games and reading fantasy novels, but I suspect he did as his narrator and main character, Clay Jannon, is attuned to the realm of wizards, warlocks, warriors and rogues, although their representatives in the novel tend to work at Google rather than reside in Middle Earth. As the late shift clerk in the strangest bookstore in San Francisco, if not the world, Clay sees his role in the mystery unfolding before him as a quest given him by a wizard, the eponymous bookstore owner.

This novel has mystery, adventure, secret societies, the parrots of Telegraph Hill, film special effects artists, knitting, friendship, romance, books, cyber-wizardry, and nerdy cocktails, yet it has no dark villain. The only character who could even remotely be considered a villain is nothing more than a disappointed and inflexible business executive. The other characters are uniformly endearing. Clay gets by with a little help from his friends, a Bay area collection of high tech superheroes. (One moral in the story: if, during your childhood or adolescence, you befriend the weird kid who sits alone at lunch, you will not regret it later!). The "quest" brings these 20-something tech wizards into the company of an eccentric group of scholars who are perhaps still dazzled by the invention of the Gugenheim press.

Sloan's writing is sharp, intelligent and witty, infused with wonder at the magic of human creativity and invention, whether the product is books or self-driving cars. Mr. Penumbra's reminds us that the world is still full of interesting things to discover. As Clay would say: cool.
( )
  Sharon.Flesher | Jul 13, 2015 |
The perfect book about the now and the past life of books. ( )
  rebeccar76 | Jun 24, 2015 |
No-recomendado por Lau

Me propongo leer de principio a fin libros considerados "malos". Mi intención es encontrar al menos UNA cualidad buena en ellos y reseñarlos objetivamente siguiendo 20 puntos a desarrollar brevemente. (Los puntos varían según el género del que se trate.)

Si tienen ganas de No-recomendarme otros libros
pueden comentar acá o ACÁ. ¡Cualquier género es bienvenido! Cuanto más variado, mejor :)
  LaMala | Jun 7, 2015 |
I didn't know what to make of this book at first. But as I got into the meat, I found a very entertaining story about books. Yes, that's right. A book about books. As one who has loved books for as long as I can remember, I could appreciate what Clay Jannon and Ajax Penumbra were going through.

The plot is a simple one. Clay Jannon, with the ink still wet on his graphic design degree, works for only a short time before becoming a statistic in the recent recession. He goes through the normal progression of job hunting: find something in my field; find something I have the skills for; find something I wouldn't mind doing; find something that isn't illegal; start re-defining "illegal." Almost by chance. as he is walking the streets of San Francisco, he comes across Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore with a help wanted sign in the window. He steps inside to inquire and steps out with a job on the midnight shift. He thought Mr. Penumbra to be a little strange, but a job was a job.

After working in the store for a few weeks, he wondered how it stayed in business. Hardly any customers bought anything and there was a group who came in regularly and would exchange books, similar to a library. Clay found out that these regulars were members of a literary "cult" called the Unbroken Spine, and it was for them that the store truly existed. Partly out of concern for his own job security and partly out of his growing fondness for Mr. Penumbra, Clay immerses himself into the enigma know as the Unbroken Spine. Clay enlists the help of his motley crew of friends and acquaintances, each having their own special talents, to find answers to the secrets the group had sought for centuries.

To tell more of the plot may spoil the story. But coming through loud and clear was the love of books. Old books, new books, and electronic books. There are people on both sides of the e-book revolution stating their cases. In the end, it will be we the readers to make the final determination as to the future of printing. Clay recalls the book he most loved as a child, The Dragonsong Chronicles, and the influence it had own his growth and development. It helped him forge lasting friendships and brought hours of joy to his life.

I own and e-reader and it serves its purpose. I can take hundreds of books with me when I travel in the space of a small paperback. But there is something about holding that book in your hands, smelling the paper and glue, and looking at the type printed on the page. That can never be reproduced electronically. And as Robin Sloan has discovered, books give their authors a little taste of immortality. ( )
1 vote NPJacobsen | Jun 6, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 321 (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 (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin Sloanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Corral, RodrigoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fliacos, AriNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fliakos, AriNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
fliakos, ariNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kagan, AbbyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Solow, NannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Lost in the shadows of the shelves, I almost fall off the ladder.
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.
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(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.


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.
Every time Google

pauses, I shall think fondly

of men in black cowls.


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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:47 -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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Average: (3.88)
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