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

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

by Robin Sloan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,0182731,886 (3.9)3 / 382
Title:Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Authors:Robin Sloan
Info:Center Point Pub (2012), Edition: Lrg, Library Binding, 383 pages
Collections:current and upcoming reads

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
    Lexicon by Max Barry (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Both books are non-traditional geeky mystery/thrillers.
  6. 10
    A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé (lycomayflower)
  7. 10
    The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard (Anonymous user)
  8. 10
    The Writer & The Witch by Robin Sloan (MitraLibrary)
  9. 10
    Shelf Monkey by Corey Redekop (nsblumenfeld)
  10. 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.
  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. 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 (261)  Dutch (3)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (268)
Showing 1-5 of 261 (next | show all)
This book is unusual. It is, however, unusual in the best of ways. It's a quirky jaunt into a 500-year old mystery left behind by a pair of bibliogeniuses who were far ahead of their respective time.

We follow an odd band of individuals as they each strive to unravel the puzzle - still unsolved for five centuries - all in their own time, and in their own way.

If you had told me that Douglas Coupland had written this work, I would have believed it. It read very much like a number of his works - and that's a compliment.

I really enjoyed this book, but I can't for the life of me pin down a single defining reason as to why. Suffice it to say that, I presume, I merely enjoyed it because it is itself, and that it exists. ( )
  HeathDAlberts | Sep 14, 2014 |
I want to write a fair review for this book, but I don't know where to start!

Let's start with the fact that I got this as a Christmas gift, and both the giver and myself expected it to be a fun light read.

And it was that, but it was much better than that!

For one thing, the book (and archaeological) history in it is enough to make someone like me, who has a master's Book and Digital Media Studies, pretty darn giddy. I loved that it included everything from printmaking and typesetting and font design, to early libraries, and current libraries, and archaeological databases, and OCR and book scanners and Google books and a regular little sweet bookstore, in the middle of it. And that there were writers and academics and traditionalists as well as startup millionaires and Googlers and archaeology students and artists and rock climbers and regular people who want to read (strippers, for example).

Okay, now on to serious stuff:

I wish more "great" contemporary books were like this. I wish they didn't all take themselves so seriously. I thought this book was surprisingly well written - not at all what I expected, but it was full of lines and details that made me stop and think, or laugh out loud, or copy them down so I could revisit them later. It was descriptive, and full of cute metaphors and unexpected details (like when Clay compares reading a book to listening to an audiobook), but none of it was heavy-handed, or overdone, or self-conscious. It only happened when necessary. There were hardly any superfluous words (and I find so many in the 450-page Pulitzer Prize Winners, etc.).

The characters were interesting, and there was a good level of variation, of people coming and going, of peripheral characters who were important, who had agency, who weren't exactly central but made this fictional world seem very real and believable. There was a lack of female characters, but not quite to the extent that I have come to expect from books lately; it seemed to reflect the reality of the environment.

I want to find more books that walk this line - well-written, without being to smart; a fun and interesting plot, and reasonable, interesting characters. Oh yeah, and less than 400 pages. ( )
1 vote GraceZ | Sep 6, 2014 |
"There is no immortality that is not built on friendship and work done with care. All secrets worth knowing are hiding in plain sight. It's not easy to imagine the year 3012, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try."

Thanks to my son taking a nice long afternoon nap, I was able to finish this book in almost one sitting. It wasn't a difficult read by any means, but I was thoroughly entertained. If Harry Potter, The Da Vinci Code, and Google had a book baby, this would be it. I really can't say much about the plot line without giving the book away. It was a wonderful mix of past, present, and future.

What a nice, refreshing afternoon! Now back to toddler play time, and reality. :) ( )
  ASmithey | Aug 31, 2014 |
Many of us here on LibraryThing have adopted a false dichotomy of 'tree' books v. 'electronic' books in an all one or the other fashion. This delightful romp wraps up that dichotomy in a fantastical excursion through the shelves, clientele and mystery of a quirky bookstore and the high tech machinations of Google. Is it truly just one or the other? Can the two co-exist? Can our young protagonists solve the secret guarded by Mr. Penumbra and his cohorts? I am bound to be intrigued any novel about books, reading and bookstores. The more eccentric the better. I was not disappointed by this charming tale. ( )
  michigantrumpet | Aug 25, 2014 |
Three thoughts upon concluding this book: 1.) I wished I had stopped at 40% when I paused and asked myself if I should continue. 2.) I expected a unique distribution of reader scores for this book, a lot of 5's because I understand the cult thing, few 3's, a lot of 1's, i.e. you either love it, or at least say you do, or dislike it - no middle ground. 3.) The book is not as described in the "Book Descriptions" and ad blurbs . This is NOT a mystery, it is a fantasy, but a fantasy without violence, without adventure, and without romance. Which leaves not much. It is also not about books, bookstores, or magic. It is a search to break a code but a code to what is not clear, although it is hinted that it might be a key to immortality. Not a great ending either. Some interesting comments about Google though. All together, my score of 2 is very generous. ( )
1 vote maneekuhi | Aug 24, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 261 (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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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 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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1 9
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2.5 25
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4 495
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An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

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