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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

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  •  
    Alia Rochester, MI, United States 02-06-14
    Alia Rochester, MI, United States 02-06-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Just the right touch of magic..."
    Where does Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    If the opening strains of music in this book give you a little chill and make you wonder if this is actually a techno-Harry Potter, then you are in for a treat, my friend.


    Any additional comments?

    I *loved* this story. It takes a while to really get an idea of what's going on, but you are as hapless as the main character, so don't worry. It's quirky, amusing, and very original. I can't recall reading anything else like it, and that for me is a huge plus. I will undoubtedly listen to it again and again in those times when I'm feeling a bit down, and need a good story to lift me up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary SANTA ROSA, CA, United States 01-29-14
    Mary SANTA ROSA, CA, United States 01-29-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Silicon Bay Area Mystery"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore to be better than the print version?

    I loved it, I will describe it as up front and in the moment ; the performance kept me thoroughly engaged and familiar the same way I felt as the story drew me in. This was beyond the fact that I knew the places that he was talking about in the City first hand. Beyond the fact that "Silicon Valley" in real time is leaking into Silicon Bay Area as well.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I heard the story of the 24 hour bookstore in 24 hours. I could not have waited the 500 odd years that the characters needed to puzzle out the story, but even that bizarre thought makes sense in terms of how rapidly our technology is growing. This book engaged the personal viewpoints towards technology that might be felt as differences in the terms of different generations and brings them together in a lighthearted way where the old and the young both respectively fit in harmoniously, to sort the mystery out. I don't think I have heard an author do that regarding our quantum technological shift. I liked the book because for me it was a thorough distraction from my daily life and at the same time the affirmation it gives is personal in relation. It was lighthearted amusing and very entertaining and HEY is all carried out in non violent language, which in our times is refreshing and hopeful in literature.


    Have you listened to any of Ari Fliakos’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Good.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I like the end as I feel the characters carry on as familiar friends even after I close the book .


    Any additional comments?

    Thank You - Good Listening!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    peabozzle Blackfoot, ID, United States 01-15-14
    peabozzle Blackfoot, ID, United States 01-15-14

    I am an RN with a 40 minute commute 1 way. A perfect excuse to have a good book keeping me company!

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    "Low expectations, delightfully surprised!"

    I had low expectations for this book. It had been on my "wish list" forever & I finally decided (because it was cheap) to give it a try. I figured if I didn't like it, I would return it and try something else. After all, life is too short to ready crummy books, right?
    It was delightful! I was immediately drawn into the characters & the mystery of the 24 hour bookstore. Well written, full of surprises, & and an ending that made sense and closed all the loops!
    This book is hard to classify into any specific genre. It is sort of a mystery, sort of techno-fiction (if that's even a real genre) and even has elements of sci-fi and fantasy now and then. But it was so enjoyable, I recommend to anyone who likes to get lost in a story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    History Buff Maryland 01-14-14
    History Buff Maryland 01-14-14 Member Since 2012

    Grace

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    "Fabulous title to go with a very good book"

    I'm surprised no one seems to catch the quirky title!

    This is the first fiction book I've read (or listened to) in a long time that I really liked. The title itself grabbed me. How cool would it to have a 24-hour bookstore nearby? And what a name!! The suggestion of a shadow, hinting at a subterranean cult that becomes stronger and until the sun is self-consumed. Gads! I'm beginning to freak out like Clay!

    Ari Fliacos was a superb narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Pivik 01-08-14
    Kelly Pivik 01-08-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Experience this book!"

    You have probably read some conflicting reviews of whether non-techies should read this. I'll say this - if you are afraid of computer lingo, then this isn't for you. Otherwise, you'll be fine. You don't need to have a lot of knowledge of computers to follow the story. There might be some things that you don't understand, but you won't lose the story if you don't.
    This is a GREAT story with a fantastic reader - he fits the tone of the book well. Some of my favorite lines from the book include: "We need James Bond with a Library Science degree!" and "He's Nosferatu as a Marine Corps Sergeant!"
    It's lighthearted, but gives you the opportunity to think about some large philosophical issues, if you want to. I laughed out loud several times, and I will listen to this book again. I highly recommend it, regardless of your computer knowledge.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer GRAND RAPIDS, MI, United States 12-29-13
    Amazon Customer GRAND RAPIDS, MI, United States 12-29-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Interesting story"

    I enjoyed listening to this book, and sometimes reading along on my kindle. I had no idea which direction this book would take and I enjoyed that. It was fun to watch it unfold.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Fuller CT USA 12-17-13
    Steven Fuller CT USA 12-17-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Quirky and different! A fun listen."

    I agree with the reviews that say you have to listen to Ari Fliakos read this little book to get the full effect. It is a charming code-cracking, secret society busting mystery set in San Francisco. It is a juxtaposition of computers and books, e-readers and ancient tomes. Our hero is a failed computer nerd surrounded by a bevy of successful friends when he chances upon a job at a tiny bookstore. He chances upon a deep secret among the dusty volumes and strange characters that fill the shelves and aisles of the narrow store.
    Robin Sloan's book is a loving wink at gamers, fantasy book lovers, computer whizzes and collectors of esoterica. For all of us and everyone else, it is well worth a listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica Houston, TX, United States 12-12-13
    Jessica Houston, TX, United States 12-12-13

    Reader, writer, teacher, consultant. I read mostly Young Adult and Genre Fiction, especially with a mix of literary style and commercial pacing.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Can EVERY book be this book?"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I have recommended it to many people already. It is charming and funny and so clever. I love all the little pop culture references and the pacing of the book. It's engaging and never boring and is so different and unique that you can't help but love it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    That's really difficult... of course I love Clay and Penumbra and Kat, but I have to say that I really loved Neel too. He's my favorite... probably.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The scene in the reading room when Clay is all alone.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The amphitheater scene at Google. Heart. Broken.


    Any additional comments?

    Give this book a chance even if it sounds like it's not your thing. It's so smart and fun and different, it will charm you and win you over.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Todd Essex, VT, United States 12-09-13
    Todd Essex, VT, United States 12-09-13 Member Since 2013
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    "I am recommending this book to my techie friends"
    Would you listen to Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore again? Why?

    Yes as I'd like to learn more about Google and their business model. From information that I've read about Google recently, I think most of the Google business environment in this book is factual. Going into the cafeteria at Google and imagining what I'd order was something I shared with a number of people.


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

    This isn't really an action book, but I definitely was looking to put on the book every time I got into the car! The reader used his voice well for crescendo.


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

    The voices especially of the members of the society were excellent as well as Penumbra himself. I don't think I would have gotten this from just reading the book.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The moment when all Google resources were turned on the book to try to translate it. This was a section that was built up well with excitement and I definitely got caught up in the fun.


    Any additional comments?

    The book was funny and I actually laughed out loud in a number of sections.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wilson twentynine Palms, US, Canada 11-20-13
    Wilson twentynine Palms, US, Canada 11-20-13 Member Since 2015
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    3
    3
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    "A Book That's Fun To (Read), Listen To!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    It is a light easy read, with a great storyline character development, and leaves you wishing you had the next book ready to delve into. The only thing wrong with this author is that she isn't writing fast enough. Come one girl, get out the next book! We are waiting.


    What other book might you compare Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore to and why?

    The Prequel was also great. There is nothing I have read that quite compares to these books. She has a style of her own!


    Which character – as performed by Ari Fliakos – was your favorite?

    Good narration. No Favorites


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Adventure Among the Tomes!


    Any additional comments?

    I have about 300 audible books and this is the first I felt I had to write a review for! I loved this book and hated to have it end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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