Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore
Published by-Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux
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 has 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 “checking 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, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once 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 a young Umberto Eco, but with a unique and feisty sensibility that’s 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
I loved this book, plain and simple. The moment Clay climbs the ladder, his arm outstretched, looking for the for the right book, I was hooked. This is a story that talks about the smell of books, the bound versus the electronic, the way the right book can hook you and never let you go- for Clay it was the The Dragon Song Chronicles. Clay is on a quest to discover the secrets of Mr. Penumbra’s bookstore. Why do odd people come in at all hours of the night? Why is there a special section of encoded books? Why don’t they stock normal books-no Harry Potters in sight?!? What Clay discovers sends him on a mission that leads him into the true meaning of what books are really about. This is a book lover’s book.