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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
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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.
Notes: Picador; Reprint edition (September 24, 2013) with ISBN 9781250037756.
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: 9780374214913
0374214913
9781250037756
Statement of Responsibility: Robin Sloan
Subject Headings: Bookstores Employees Fiction. Bookstores California San Francisco Fiction.
Genre/Form: Fantasy fiction.
Adventure fiction.
Suspense fiction.
Topical Term: Bookstores
Bookstores
LCCN: 2012012357
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Library Staff

Comment by: DesPlainesReaders Feb 27, 2013

There isn't a lot of character development, but the book is nevertheless a mostly engaging read. Should appeal to those interested in technology and books, as well as fans of Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. WeAreSpartacus/LauraADPPL

How could you not love a novel that appeals both to literary snobs and to twenty-something hackers? Mystery, book history, love story, cryptography, and up-to-the- minute Google-speak starring San Francisco's odd denizens, young and old, this tale follows Clay Jannon, a clerk in a book store that... Read More »

Comment by: HeatherIm Aug 04, 2012

At the intersection of sci-fi and antiquity! Hugely entertaining, off-beat and fun. Highly recommeded.


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Aug 07, 2014
  • telger rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Mr. Penumbra's 24 hour Book store- Robin Sloan
I was hooked because I love and kinda sorta addicted to books and the work of reading, as decribed by Mr. Penumbra. I was captivated and mystified by this bookstore- the secret society, what they do, why and who they are. But I have to admit after the long, winding journey of books, and libraries, New York and San Francisco- I feel I was dissapointed in the end. But this is just me though. I thought there is a bigger, more profound explanation but oh no.

Aug 01, 2014
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Information and stories. That's the commonality. Convention prefers to set things in opposition to each other: books vs. computers; analog vs. digital; old vs. new; dusty vs. sleek. They may function differently, but at their cores books and computers are about the same things: storing and sharing information and stories.

Clay Jannon sits at the juncture of those two opposing worlds, that of books and that of computers. He is a computer designer in Silicon Valley, but desperation has him accepting a job at a dusty old bookstore that caters to very old-fashioned readers. That job gets him a new girlfriend who works for and--is all things--Google. It also gets him caught up in a centuries-old mystery involving a secret book society. Those are just the simplest of his connections to the two worlds, which grow deeply both ways. And Clay is special because he has a unique talent: he doesn't see the worlds as opposites or in conflict with each other; he is able to join them harmoniously in his perception, his life, his work. And so Clay sits at the juncture of an exciting mystery consisting of unexpected intrigue and adventure that takes him from the latest secret projects at the heart of Google to hidden underground libraries where the chained, leather-bound books are studied by black-robed scholars, breaking codes, uncovering mysteries, and so much more.

This is--to copy a description already used by others I know--a delightfully fun story. It came highly recommended and did not disappoint. Very nearly five stars.

Jul 26, 2014
  • BrigidWilson rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Truly enjoyed this novel. In fact, I had to make myself put it down several times just so I wouldn't hurry through it:) I didn't want to be done because it was done so well. Literature lovers and computer geeks will like this story in similar degrees:)

Summary: Clay Jannon, an unemployed web designer takes a clerk position at a strange bookstore run by an old man. Not only does the store keep strange hours but few customers ever visit, and those who do are quite bizarre and “check-out” rather than buy books. Clay soon discovers that there is much more to the bookstore and its customers than meets the eye, and becomes caught up in a centuries-old puzzle that has yet to be solved.

This book presents an interesting exploration of the relationship between modern technology, such as computer programming and e-readers, and the place that physical books hold in our society. This is definitely a book for both book-lovers and computer enthusiasts! While not written in the most remarkable style, it is an entertaining read!

Jun 26, 2014
  • Drake_Fresh rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book is such an exiting mystery! With a clever, multilayered theme and a series of very interesting characters, this is a personal favorite.

NYPL Staff Pick
When a website designer on the night shift at a San Francisco bookstore begins to notice mysterious patterns, he uses technological wizardry to decode a secret message.
- Selection Team

Recommended by Karl @lynden library.

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.

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.

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Apr 26, 2013
  • lbi316 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

lbi316 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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Aug 01, 2014
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

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.

Aug 01, 2014
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Maybe his big build isn't a linebacker's after all; maybe it's a librarian's.

Jun 30, 2014
  • SlotFather rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Neel takes a sharp breath and I know exactly what it means. It means: I have waited my whole life to walk through a secret passage built into a bookshelf.

Jun 30, 2014
  • SlotFather rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Walking the stacks in a library, dragging your fingers across the spines -- it's hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits.

"...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."

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.

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

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

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.

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Version pocillo (pocillo) Last updated 2014/08/26 17:01