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

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, #1)

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

Published: 2012



Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, is light, fun reading.

It is a novel about a bookstore.  What’s not to love?

Clay Jannon is an out of work web designer.  Needing a job, he finds an opening for a night shift clerk at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.  It seems strange that the store would need to be open 24 hours, but Clay finds there is the occasional late-night customer, and also an occasional “borrower”.  These last are the people his boss seems very interested in, to the point where he has Clay making notes of everything that happens when they enter the store, including their demeanor and what they were wearing!   It’s like a strange book club. These people borrow and return books from the back of the store, where a very tall ladder and agility is required to access the shelves.  When Clay, against his employers instructions, has a look at the books in the back, he is amazed to find that the ones being borrowed are all written in code.  Being a curious young man with time on his hands, Clay is determined to find out what is going on, and he ropes his friends in to help.  What they find is a secret society called “The Unbroken Spine”, and they are trying to break the code. Travelling from California to New York and back again, Clay seems to be on a road to finding himself.

Clay’s friends are as strange and as wonderful as he is.   They are a mix of old and new.  His new girlfriend Kat (okay, I love her cause we share a name) works for Google;  his childhood friend Neel is a millionaire;  his roommate builds things for Industrial Light and Magic. Then there is Mr. Penumbra and the mysterious group from the Unbroken Spine, who are mostly older individuals, some of which embrace new technology and others that do not.

Okay, if you are looking for a deep read, look elsewhere. But if you are looking for a fun read with interesting characters, a light plot, and a few twists, read this.

It is a book about secrets, about codes, about books, about technology, about philosophy, about friendship. It is refreshing!


Favorite Quotes from Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore:

“My standards were sliding swiftly.  At first I had insisted I would only work at a company with a mission I believed in.  Then I thought maybe it would be fine as long as I was learning something new.  After that I decided it just couldn’t be evil.  Now I was carefully delineating my personal definition of evil.”

“Walking the stacks in a library, dragging your fingers across the spines — it’s hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits.” 

“We’re a little Rebel Alliance, and Penumbra is our Obi-Wan.”

“All the secrets in the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight.”


Read: December 2016


About the Author:  Robin Sloan grew up near Detroit and went to school at Michigan State where he studied economics.   Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is his first novel, but he plans to release another in 2017.





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