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

by Robin Sloan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,4254331,108 (3.86)3 / 486
Member:Dec31
Title:Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel
Authors:Robin Sloan
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:2012, Bookclub Books - Read
Rating:***
Tags:None

Work details

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

  1. 215
    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)
  2. 100
    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Yells, bookworm12)
  3. 50
    The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (SqueakyChu)
  4. 40
    The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (Anonymous user)
  5. 20
    The Circle by Dave Eggers (conceptDawg)
    conceptDawg: Similar content and themes
  6. 10
    Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem (Othemts)
  7. 10
    Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn (Runa)
  8. 10
    The Magicians by Lev Grossman (aethercowboy)
    aethercowboy: Both books deal with a fictional fantasy series that holds a lot of significance to the story.
  9. 10
    The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (generalkala)
  10. 21
    1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  11. 10
    A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé (lycomayflower)
  12. 10
    The Writer & The Witch by Robin Sloan (MitraLibrary)
  13. 10
    The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard (Anonymous user)
  14. 10
    Shelf Monkey by Corey Redekop (nsblumenfeld)
  15. 10
    Lexicon by Max Barry (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Both books are non-traditional geeky mystery/thrillers.
  16. 00
    The Martian by Andy Weir (sturlington)
    sturlington: Mr. Penumbra's reminded me in tone and its reverence for tech, geeks, and pop culture of both The Martian and Ready Player One.
  17. 00
    Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson (Othemts)
  18. 00
    An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (Othemts)
  19. 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.
  20. 01
    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.

(see all 21 recommendations)

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English (423)  Dutch (3)  German (3)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  Piratical (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (433)
Showing 1-5 of 423 (next | show all)
The story of a secret society of code-breaking book lovers. Not altogether enthralling. ( )
  bpeters65 | Jul 16, 2016 |
Is there a genre for nerdy guy chick-lit? Because that's what this is, basically. And it's well done for what it is--light-hearted, optimistic, fun. In tone and in its obvious reverence for anything techy, geeky, or of pop culture, it reminds me of The Martian and Ready Player One. All the characters are nice, smart, talented, quirky, adorable, and happy just to be doing what they do. Yes, it's a fantasy, an agreeable one. Not my usual thing, but I can't find fault with it. (Also, I love the way the little books on the back of the cover glow in the dark.) ( )
  sturlington | Jul 13, 2016 |
I really enjoyed reading Robin Sloan's novel "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore." The story was just so much fun and piqued my curiosity enough that I couldn't wait to read what would happen next.

Our narrator is a techy guy who finds himself working at a strange bookstore as a a means to end unemployment. He finds the store populated by a lot of quirky characters and coded books and decides to find out what the heck is going on.

The novel mixed technology and books together really well. It suffered a bit from the "right person showing up at the right time" to advance the plot, but it didn't bother me too much. Really, this was just a fun book to read. ( )
  amerynth | Jul 10, 2016 |
A giddy, almost hyper, first person adventure that jumped from an antiquated book store to the inner sanctum of a cultish underground band of code breakers and then on to Google's ginormous data visualization amphitheater, all in search of the key to unlock the secret of immortality. This was a fun read, almost comic book-like in its energy, but the wrap up at the end felt a little rushed. Guess I wasn't ready for the story to be over. ( )
  wandaly | Jun 30, 2016 |
This was just lovely! I loved the characters, the pacing of the story. I was tempted to race through it, but I didn't feel like I HAD to just to get to the end. I loved the mystery of the whole story; it was intriguing and kept me interested without being overdone. I enjoyed going on the adventure with Clay. It was fun meeting his new friends and allies and seeing him rely on allies from his past (and present).

I was a bit disappointed in Kate and how quickly she changed once she got what she wanted. And I hated how cold and sort of rigid--or disbelieving she was once the truth of the puzzle was revealed, even though it was right there in black in white for all to see. And it was almost as if she was jealous that Clay figured it out without her technology--without her! I was hurt on Clay's behalf by her treatment of him.

But what I loved most was Clay's loyalty to Penumbra and solving the puzzle. And that after all the help, the technology and gadgets, he was able to solve it without his huge group of helpers, all on his own and very simply.

I've seen where some people were upset with the ending, or the revelation of the mystery was underwhelming. I thought the simplicity of it all was what made it so perfect, so wonderful. After all that work, reading, scheming, programming, cumputing, etc., the answer was simple and immortality was achieved in a way. ( )
  PriPri77 | Jun 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 423 (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)
 
"In the end, though, the book works fine as an engrossing mystery — and as an intelligent meditation on technology’s trajectory and limits."https://www.librarything.com/work/12661675/book/132262683#
 
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)
 

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin Sloanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Corral, RodrigoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fliakos, AriNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kagan, AbbyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Solow, NannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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.)
Disambiguation notice
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References to this work on external resources.

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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 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 8 descriptions

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