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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel | [Robin Sloan]

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel

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....
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Publisher's Summary

A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life - mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore.

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 21st 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 listener, no matter the time of day.

©2012 Robin Sloan (P)2012 Macmillan Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (4052 )
5 star
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4.4 (3667 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Melinda P Rolfe 08-26-14 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
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    Story
    "Charming and fun book"

    I enjoyed the classic quest story interwoven with high-tech. I've recommended this book to several people and all have enjoyed it as much as I did.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonelle Camp Hill, PA, United States 08-11-14
    Jonelle Camp Hill, PA, United States 08-11-14 Member Since 2008

    A librarian who loves to read, whether in print or in the air

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Inventive!"

    What an inventive author! It had mysteries and puzzles, a litte romance, a quest, and fascinating perspectives on old people who love books and the Google generation. I thoroughly enjoyed this slim novel and will read more of Sloan's books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mary San Antonio, TX, United States 08-06-14
    mary San Antonio, TX, United States 08-06-14 Member Since 2015

    I was a 'readaholic' for most of my life. I started crochet and other hobbies. That took away from my reading time. I discovered audio books at the library. That set me off. now, that I am older my eyes make it too difficult to read. So I now am a very diligent audio book listener!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    39
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    511
    93
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    2
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    "A good plot."

    I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I was interested that it gave a different insight in the search for eternal life and how to achieve it. The characters had good development during the story. The secondary characters had their place that completed the plot. I enjoyed Ari Fliakos' reading. His young/old voice complimented the main character very well. The author is now on my list for future purchases.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Houston 07-13-14
    Amazon Customer Houston 07-13-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    43
    10
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    "fun, fun, fun"

    A little magical. I little misterious. Creative story. Interesting characters. Good reader fun book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lenore 07-05-14
    lenore 07-05-14 Member Since 2015
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    3
    1
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    Story
    "Not only for geeks"
    Any additional comments?

    I almost did not get this book because of many reviewers comments that it was 'written for geeks' and Dungeons & Dragons players. I am a 50 year old woman who has average technology knowledge and only Harry Potter as info on spells. Nonetheless, I LOVED this book! I'm sure I missed a few cultural or tech references, but the story is self explanatory and well written so I was never lost or confused. The narrator does a great job with the characters, creating distinct, appropriate voices for each.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-04-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
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    Story
    "There's more to this book than at first look"

    This book definitely offers more than I thought it would. It's a cute, light read with a somewhat cheesy message. I could forgive some of it's more cliche moments, though because it was so fun to read.

    If I had to do it over, I would read the actual paper book, not listen to it. The narrator was awful. He kept reading it as if it was written in all caps or with exclamation marks.

    But if you can get past the narrator's insistent voice, it's a great little story with a lot more than meets the eye.
    (Just like Penumbra's bookstore....)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathryn Daniel 05-31-14
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    7
    3
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    Story
    "Wonderful 24-hour Fantasy"
    What made the experience of listening to Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore the most enjoyable?

    The story is one of the most intriguing stories I've read/listened to in a long time.


    What about Ari Fliakos’s performance did you like?

    Ari Fliakos was the first thing that I really loved about this audio book. His voice fit the main character perfectly. And he did great voices for all of the other characters as well.


    Any additional comments?

    I definitely recommend this book or audio book to anyone and everyone!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melanie Mares Georgia 05-18-14
    Melanie Mares Georgia 05-18-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    2
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    0
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    "Love this book and GREAT narration!!!"
    Any additional comments?

    Great story...intriguing from the very beginning. The narration by Fliakos is terrific! I can not imagine anyone doing it better! His tone, inflections, accents for different characters, and overall approach to reading this book is perfect. I love the story and found myself smiling many times while listening, as I "met" new characters and enjoyed the references to Google, code, and of course, books. I am on my second listen....and I very rarely listen to the same book twice. I must say I am enjoying it just as much the second time around. I have recommended this book to many people. It is special.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E 04-24-14
    E 04-24-14
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    189
    3
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    Story
    "Wonderful story and perfect narration"
    What did you love best about Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore?

    The story was a lovely and wonderful tale. It was very original and yet very sweet. The narrator nailed the tone of the book perfectly.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    I wanted to find out what was going on and looked forward to listening whenever I could.


    What does Ari Fliakos bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He had the perfect voice for the story. It was a first person tale told from a young man's perspective. Mr. Fliakos nailed it and I enjoyed the book even more because of his narration.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    This was an unexpected and wonderful book. I don't think I ever would have read it but, it was a book club selection. I like it so much, I am going to suggest it for my other book club as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jessica Los Angeles, CA, United States 04-13-14
    jessica Los Angeles, CA, United States 04-13-14 Member Since 2012
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    19
    6
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    Performance
    Story
    "On the same level of Night Circus but funnier"
    What did you love best about Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore?

    the story feels like it was made yesterday, so current, yet such depth in the plot is amazing and I love all the characters and the sense of humor.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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