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Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore

Sloan, Robin (Book - 2012 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore

Item Details

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.
Authors: Sloan, Robin, 1979-
Title: Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore
Publisher: New York :, Farrar, Straus and Giroux,, 2012
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: 288 p. ;,22 cm
Contents: The bookstore
The library
The tower
Summary: 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.
ISBN: 0374214913
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Report This Apr 05, 2014
  • Indigo_Cobra_8 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Things I liked about the book: fast-paced adventure, the main character's dry humor and witty narration, the character interactions, the incorporation of Google and technology. Things I didn't like: undeveloped villain character, blatant themes (that is to say, this book didn't make you THINK; it just stated things outright). Still, a fairly enjoyable book.

As a lover of books but also a 20-something who has embraced eBooks, the Internet, the iPhone, etc., this was pure delight. With a sometimes-unfortunate (but always affectionate) narrator and a cast of characters you'd love to meet (from a distance, please; they're a little odd), Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is one of the few books I recommend almost without reservation. Male, female, 20-something or 60-something, if you like to read or write or Google, there is something here for you. Laughter and eye-rolling aplenty.

Blind Date with a Book comment: 1st impression - 9; Characters - 9; Story - 9. "True love with an always enchanting writer. Thank-you for introducing me to this wonderful writer."

Report This Feb 17, 2014
  • KateHillier rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

I really enjoyed it for the first third or so. Bookstores, tech, e reading, print reading, data visualization, so much interesting stuff but I think I let me expectations get too high. That and the direction the book took was something a little different than what I expected. It was a cute read, and a fast one, though. Fascinating read though and really makes you think about the changes the book trade is facing as well as the world as a whole.

A bit juvenile for my taste.

Report This Dec 07, 2013
  • rockylynn rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Unusual storyline. A little slow in places and then unable to put down in others. I found the ending disappointing, however it fits the plot perfectly.

Report This Nov 23, 2013
  • Michael Colford rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This delightful homage to the physical book is intriguing as it also celebrates the Google-age, digitization, typography, and code breaking. But nothing is more celebrated, and also a little mourned, than the independent bookstore. Mr. Penumbra's bookstore in San Francisco is, of course, not your average bookstore. There is the front part of the store, which is typically eclectic, where booksellers favorite books are featured randomly, and the occasional sale is made. But it is the rear part of the store, taller than it is wide, with ladders skyrocketing to great heights, and mysterious books filled with a bizarre, unreadable code lining the shelves. Young Clay Jannon finds himself working the night shift at this curious bookstore after losing his job to a poor economy. He also finds himself tossed into a fascinating mystery about history, books, and even immortality. He is surrounded by an assortment of colorful characters, from his girlfriend, Kat, who works at Google, his best friend Neel, with whom he once played Dungeons & Dragons, and of course, his quirky employer, Mr. Penumbra himself. A delightful read for book lovers, but also for computer geeks who think the age of print is over. Robin Sloan's prose skips along merrily making for a fast read. There are a lot of ideas in here, and if there is any flaw, perhaps it is that all are celebrated, and none shown to be more relevant than any other. It's rather even-handed in that way, which is nice, but perhaps a trifle less exciting.

Report This Nov 11, 2013
  • agbookclub2 rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

The Angus Glen library read this book in October 2012. The members overall didn't enjoy this title. The Fantasy aspect with the mix of Technology was overwhelming making the storyline heavy and complicated. They did enjoy the author's added humor to the book.

Report This Nov 09, 2013
  • MCinnamon rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is by far the best book I have read in a long time. It's the type of book that if you see it in a used book store you will buy it for your friends as a gift because you want to share it with them. Great characters and an unusual story. Once you pick it up it will be your only friend till you finish it cause you will want to read it from when you wake up till you fall asleep at night only to egerly open it back up to have breakfast with it.

Report This Nov 05, 2013
  • tegan rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Although this is a book aimed at an adult reading audience, I would have really loved this book when I was around 13. The magical elements and plot would have been right up my alley. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy aspects of the book as my adult self, but I found many aspects of the story to be unbelievable.

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Report This Apr 19, 2013
  • Sounddrive rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Sounddrive thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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The protagonist, Clay Jannon, is hired by San Francisco independent bookstore owner -- Mr Penumbra -- to retrieve books from 10 pm to 6 am, at the request of long time bookstore customers holding an unusual interest in highly obscure volumes. Clay has never heard of any of these book titles, which are never purchased, only loaned. When Clay examines one of these books, he sees page after page of unreadable encrypted characters, no spaces, no punctuation. Yet the customers return night after night, returning one book, and taking another. The question is: Why?


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"...so many favors have passed between us now that they are no longer distinguishable as individual acts, just a bright haze of loyalty. Our friendship is a nebula."

Report This Jan 23, 2014
  • sammier rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Your life must be an open city, with all sorts of ways to wander in.

Report This Jan 23, 2014
  • sammier rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"We need James Bond with a library science degree."

Report This Jan 23, 2014
  • sammier rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"What do you seek in these shelves?"


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Author Talk with Robin Sloan via Google's Author Series

Author Robin Sloan talks about his charming book with folks at Google.

Find it at SCCLD