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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 (original 2012; edition 2013)

by Robin Sloan (Author)

Series: Mr. Penumbra (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,875674950 (3.81)3 / 654
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.
Member:hollyphoenix777
Title:Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel
Authors:Robin Sloan (Author)
Info:Picador (2013), 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:None

Work Information

Mr Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (2012)

  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. 121
    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Yells, bookworm12)
  3. 61
    The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (SqueakyChu)
  4. 50
    The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (Anonymous user)
  5. 20
    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.
  6. 20
    Lexicon by Max Barry (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Both books are non-traditional geeky mystery/thrillers.
  7. 20
    The Circle by Dave Eggers (conceptDawg)
    conceptDawg: Similar content and themes
  8. 20
    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (sturlington)
  9. 20
    A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé (lycomayflower)
  10. 20
    The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard (Anonymous user)
  11. 20
    Shelf Monkey by Corey Redekop (nsblumenfeld)
  12. 10
    The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (generalkala)
  13. 21
    1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  14. 10
    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.
  15. 10
    Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson (Othemts)
  16. 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.
  17. 10
    The Writer & The Witch by Robin Sloan (MitraLibrary)
  18. 10
    An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (Othemts)
  19. 00
    The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (Othemts)
  20. 00
    The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa (Othemts)

(see all 24 recommendations)

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» See also 654 mentions

English (657)  German (6)  Dutch (4)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (672)
Showing 1-5 of 657 (next | show all)
To say that I enjoyed Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore would be to put it lightly. I had been intrigued by it for quite some time and eventually requested the audiobook on the library Overdrive app. I was hooked immediately – and for someone who has only read a handful of fiction titles this year, that’s saying a lot. There was a lot I thought would annoy me – it’s in first person, it’s a male narrator, Kindles are referenced in the first few pages… all the things that might annoy a feminist bookseller. But I kept listening, and just wow.

I now realize that I am 5 years late to the Penumbra party. It’s a book that has been raved about in various literary circles for years now but hasn’t graced the shelves of my bookstore for the better part of those five years. Why, I asked myself, if this book is so good, do we not have it? Because it needed a champion. There is nothing about its spine to entice a reader to pick it up off the shelf. This is not dissimilar to Penumbra’s bookstore – there’s nothing about the outside that would make you necessary decide to go in and browse (other than the fact that it’s a bookstore… but, I digress on that point). There’s a mystery inside, as there is in the physical book, and there’s a bunch of references to things that you really wish actually existed, just like Harry Potter.

There are hidden gems for booksellers to find, and Clay, our protagonist and narrator, goes on a journey from Kindle reader to indie bookstore champion that all indie booksellers adore. There are secret reading rooms, artifacts from antiquity, and, most important to us millennial readers, accurate depictions of people who are disproportionately affected by the great recession. As a 2011 college grad, these are my peers in these pages. And I can relate to them all. The book is fun, the characters and their friendships are great, the whole effect of the book is great, and I know I don’t usually repeat such a useless word so often, but I’ve decided to become this book’s champion and so, if you haven’t read it, go do so. It’s really great. ( )
  smorton11 | Oct 29, 2022 |
Book club book! This was a super quick read, and I enjoyed it but didn't love it. The story was engaging and I liked the mystery imbedded in the plot, along with the dichotomy of an ancient secret society alongside Google.

The one thing that bugged me about this book is that by referencing things that are super current (like Google and Kindles), the author has basically decided he doesn't mind being out-of-date very soon - in fact, he already is out of date by mentioning an ebook reader that is no longer on the market (RIP Sony Reader).

The solving of the mystery - the key to immortality - was not a shock; I saw it coming from the very beginning, but I enjoyed the journey to get there. ( )
  wisemetis | Oct 19, 2022 |
Clay gets a job working through the night at a very peculiar bookstore, and begins investigating a mystery about some of the store’s regular customers.

Very entertaining and very quirky. The only thing I didn’t like so much was the way Clay describes the women he knows -- something about the edge of awe and bafflement meant they didn’t seem quite like real people? But it was tolerable for a short novel, especially since Clay’s a young man with a fairly quiet social life so maybe his perspective just reflects his inexperience?

Inside: imagine the shape and volume of a normal bookstore turned on its side. This place was absurdly narrow and dizzyingly tall, three stories of books, maybe more. I craned my neck back (why do bookstores always make you do uncomfortable things with your neck?) and the shelves faded smoothly into the shadows in a way that suggested they might just go on forever.
The shelves were packed close together, and it felt like I was standing at the border of a forest -- not a friendly Californian forest, either, but an old Transylvanian forest, a forest full of wolves and witches and dagger-wielding bandits all waiting just beyond moonlight’s reach.
( )
  Herenya | Sep 24, 2022 |
And the cover glows in the dark! 5/29/17: listened to the audio book the second time around. ( )
  MakebaT | Sep 3, 2022 |
Imperfect, but a full star bump for the best execution in recent memory of absolutely everything coming together perfectly--all disparate story elements are Chekhov's gun collection, and I don't think any of them failed to fire by the end.
  Adamantium | Aug 21, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 657 (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 (8 possible)

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

Wikipedia in English (2)

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.

No library descriptions found.

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)

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