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


Wow. I finished this book a month ago and am just now able to write about my experience with it.  Truly, it blew my mind.

I had heard excellent reviews about Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and purchased this book when I was challenged to read it for May on Goodreads.  I’m so glad I took the time to read this book now because it is probably my favorite book of the year, for now.  This book is great for book nerds, graphics nerds, or just general nerds.  It has an explosion of old world charm with bright lights of the future in every corner.

The book is narrated by Clay Jannon, a recently unemployed web-designer, newly hired to work the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.  He spends most nights in the empty store working to get more people to come in the best way he knows how, online advertising.  He’s not completely alone on his night shifts though, every so often a few regulars come by to pick out books with no titles and strange names.  The strangest thing is that none of these books are written in a readable language. So, Clay becomes suspicious of the people coming in to “read” the books in the “Waybacklist”. With his programing skills and a cute Google chick, Clay is able to uncover a mystery without even realizing it.  He’s even able to give his boss the greatest gift in the world.

Basically, as a nerd, this book was so enjoyable in every way.  It’s got books and computers and secret societies with a great setting of San Francisco. It makes a beautiful connection with old world charm and the crazy fantastical abilities of today/what the future can provide us.  I fell in love with the story and it continued to surprise me all the way until the end.  I gave this book  5 out of 5 stars, and I am sincerely jealous of anyone who is reading this book for the first time.


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