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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

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

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  187,764 ratings  ·  26,595 reviews
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, but after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything; instead, they "check out" l ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published September 26th 2012)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  187,764 ratings  ·  26,595 reviews

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Start your review of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, #1)
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is one of those books that appears to have the perfect blend of ingredients for something brilliant. It's a mystery/adventure set in San Francisco, revolving around an out-of-work marketeer and web designer who takes a job as a clerk at the odd little bookshop of the title. He soon realises that there is more to Mr. Penumbra's than meets the eye, and together with a group of his friends, he embarks on a mission to get to the bottom of the shop's real purpose. Wha ...more
Nov 06, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, read-in-2012
Meh - 1.5 stars because the plot was interesting enough that I finished the book and there were some funny moments. While Mr. Sloan is imaginative and quick witted it does not make up for poor writing and boring characters. The book is just bad first person narrative. This would be an acceptable as a Syfy Saturday movie but not for a novel.For example "It's early in the morning. We came straight from the airport. Neel visits Manhattan all the time for business and I used to take the train down f ...more
Nov 25, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: library-book, fiction
A mysterious old bookstore with some kind of secret society to be infiltrated and unraveled? Cool! Except, alas, here we have a fun premise ruined by bullshit nerdbro execution.

1. An everyman nerd protagonist with no personality beyond a degree in design and deep knowledge of the internet whose main development is his realization he has talented friends who are more interesting than he is. Congrats?

2. A best friend whose company does boob physics for video games and whose major contribution to d
suuuuper fun!

this book is going to sell like gangbusters when it comes out in october. mostly because each and every one of you reading this review are going out and getting yourselves a copy. this is a command.

you like books, right? yes, you do, because you are a member of goodreads. and this book is about books! and puzzles! and adventure! there's not a whole lot that's better than is shades of Salamander and The Grand Complication: A Novel and If on a Winter's Night a Traveler and T
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
HOLY MOLY, BATMAN, EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS. I am actually so excited to write this review... I HAVE SO MANY THINGS TO SAY!

Because I have so many thoughts, let's do this bullet-point style.

- This story was so positive and mood-uplifting! Geez. I never felt that horrible dread you feel sometimes when you're reading: that loss of faith with the author where you ask the horrible question "Is the author going to screw this all up?" All throughout reading the book there were moments where I felt the
Jan 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
Should probably be two stars, but I feel mean and petty today. Sorry, Mr. Sloan.

It all just seemed so...amateur. I feel kind of pretentious saying that, which makes me sad, because there's nothing I hate more than pretentious book reviews. It's just a mess of worn-out tropes and utterly unoriginal characters. Mysterious dusty bookshops and peculiar old men. I think Sloan tried to revamp that old line with some "hip" new technology stuff, but he just failed miserably. He almost made me hate Goog
Authors are magicians. I was in the early pages of Mr. Penumbra when I realized that Sloan was sneaking in a major chain of events in only a few short paragraphs with the intention of moving the story to where he needed it. It was the authorial equivalent of "look, nothing up my sleeve" in preparation of a hat trick. Rather than irritation from this momentary flap of curtain or glimpse of rabbit ear, I was rather captivated.

Thinking back on books I've loved or hated, it occurs to me that in that
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is the debut novel by Robin Sloan, and a publishing sensation - it was Amazon's Best Book of the Month in October 2012, and received a lot of attention and praise from reviewers, authors and readers. No wonder - who wouldn't want a 24-hour book store?

The novel aspires to be classified as a "literary mystery", or an "intelligent thriller" - both labels are somewhat insulting by suggesting that mysteries and thrillers are by default a lower tier of literature, and
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
Well, I can't say I've been charmed by a book more in a while, and jealous I didn't write it. This is a totally hipster book that rings all my bells, I feel like it sort of summarizes the zeitgeist of our internet generation, the gap between old and new.

Basically the main character, Clay, is unemployed tech guy, gets a job in a run-down bookstore that has a mysterious agenda that he can't help but get roped into. I'm a sucker for secret societies, and there's a touch of Amelie whimsey that is ri
Forgive me, people, this review will be all gushing!

This book charmed me from the very beginning -- with fresh internal monologues, from Clay Jannon, a recent unemployed young man, who just lost his first job out of art school... Then he walks into a bookstore (OMG BOOKSTORE!!) and he climbs the ladder, and I'm in love.

How could I not?

This book is a love letter for books, bibliophiles, but also for technology. We know that the world of books, publishings, and reading have changed in the recen
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am so happy that we happened to be walking past the booth were Robin Sloan was signing, and someone was holding up a copy of the attractive ARC trying to lure people onto the line (which I now see the cover has been added to the book on goodreads, the book looks better than the picture suggests). This is good and I'm thinking if the world has any fairness at all this will be a fairly good selling book this fall.

In a perfect world this would go blasting up the sales charts and topple the Fifty
OK, I'm going to try something different with this review...a bit of snark!

I have been wanting to read this one for so long. I was enchanted about the idea of this 24 hour book store. A book about a bookstore, with book references...yeah! But what I got instead, was a drinking game. That's at least what I got out of this one. The story starts with Clay Jannon, who has lost his job at a bagel place where he is doing tech work and then goes to work at Mr. Penumbra's 24 hour book store. He tells hi
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mark by: Richard Derus
I have just lost the will to live. Have spent two hours writing a review of this brilliant book and then saved it but somehow Goodreads managed to lose it . Will probably kill someone if i sit here any longer so am off to the gym to do something sweaty, noisy and pointless and maybe will try again later. Very f***ing annoyed. Bye for now....................its a brilliant book by the way. I hate the 21st Century sometimes

'Your life must be an open city, with all sorts of ways to wander in'

'All t
Nov 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
Ugh, not recommended. I considered stopping reading several times, but it was such a quick read that I just sped on through.

The novel made a dramatization of numerous topics that I do feel like I have a bit of expertise around - San Francisco, Googlers, data visualization, encryption - and the book's representation came off as a shallow, borderline painful overt dramatization. It seemed ridiculous. I know little of the author's background, but the novel itself gave the impression of too strong a
Richard Derus
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Rating: 3.9* of five

The Book Description: 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 a
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
What the fuck did I just read??????
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book reminded me of Ready Player One a lot. I think fans of that book will enjoy this one. The ideas may not have been as tight in this one, but pop culture, book, and computer geeks should enjoy this. ...more
Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)
DNF @ 48%

Just... so very boring.

There's literally a MAGIC BOOKSTORE this should be AMAZING. But instead it wastes time on:

- a protagonist so boring I've forgotten his name
- a manic-pixie-nerd-girl who's soooo down-to-earth guys (she seriously only owns 10 replicas of the same shirt because she just DOESNT care about fashion and she works for Google, she's just super chill, okay??)
- random my-roommates-are-making-out-drama
- a bunch of technobabble about how because of Kindle and Nook books will
da AL
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-literary
The first third of it was promising, then everything about it petered out. The Harry Potter meets techie vibe began ok, but got tedious. A romance started off interestingly, then quickly wallowed. The same for the author's philosophical ruminations on book love in all its forms: print, ebook, audio. Be it characters, settings, or situations, all started interesting, then turned into duds. I skimmed through the last third, finished it only because I'd started it.

The audio book reader, however, wa
Darth J
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars

Oh, so much of this book is exactly what I wanted.

There was first an old and dusty bookstore.

With an old and whimsical caretaker.

And a prophecy surrounding a secret cult of black robe wearing bibliophiles, written in code form.

Did I mention that this secret cult meets in an underground library? The entrance is a fricken' swiveling bookcase!

Hell, even the characters have interesting names such as Kat Potente, Corvina, and Ajax Penumbra.

There's even a bit about google and coding which re
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is not a review, it's a love letter.

I adored this book. Why? It had a likeable narrator in Clay Jannon, a mysterious bookshop, romance, puzzles, secret societies, a San Francisco locale (with side trips to New York), and a sly sense of humor. The theme of Old Knowledge (books) vs. Internet knowledge gave the author the chance to slip in scenes at Google, a museum dedicated to knitting overrun by first graders, information about fonts, a character who made his fortune creating realistic 3-D
Oct 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2013
What started out as an engaging novel about a charismatic bookstore became a nearly 300-page ode to Google and Millenial entitlement. Google was really the main character here. The Google butt-kissing started early, and served to make it so that I never once found Kat appealing or endearing. In fact, I felt that she was just a big, whiny child playing with shiny toys and having a temper tantrum when the things around her didn't go exactly her way. She basically represents everything about my gen ...more
C.  (friends, please call me by name)
I recognized this book was special immediately. Unless Robin Sloan fumbled the writing, I knew I would love it and award five stars. When an oeuvre is distinct from anything that has come before, you can't guess what it will entail. This quest didn't delve into the metaphysical realm I envisioned. Its ultra modernity was unexpected but so too, its stunningly successful balance with elements of antiquity. Where Robin did steer us does not disappoint. I whizzed through his novel with the elation a ...more
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Initial thoughts:

1. Loved Clay. He is wonderfully funny, and geeky. His journey throughout the story was fantastic.
2. Loved the combination of new and traditional, young and old. Seeing ideas, and characters that are different and opposite come together.
3. Lot's of wonderfully geeky elements. Design, typography, technology, books, and other very nerdy things. It was AMAZING.
4. I really liked and appreciated how the characters and the story was grounded in reality. There are a lot of elements tha
Ms. Smartarse
There was something odd about this book. Not entirely sure what exactly, but I'm thinking it might've been the setting. Waaaay too close to... my real life, so to say. I'm used to stories that happen in either a far-off realm, or a place I've been to, but with just the right twist to make it seem "fantastic". This one seemed all "huh, I could actually see it happening".

As a computer programmer myself, I was lucky enough to go on a business trip to Silicon Valley, where I also visited the Google
Jennifer Masterson
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars. Over a year ago, before I was on Goodreads, I tried to read this book and gave up on it early on thinking it was for a much younger group of readers. I also had too much going on and sometimes when you have a lot going on in your life it can impact everything, including what you're reading! After reading so many other people's glowing reviews I finally decided to give it another go. This time I read the whole book and by the 1/2 way mark I was hooked! Loved loved loved it! It was so m ...more
Nov 15, 2015 rated it liked it
This review originally appeared on my blog, Shoulda, Coulda Woulda Books.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour-Bookstore is a book with a perfectly charming premise and a number of flaws. The premise, is, of course, what landed it on my to-read list nearly two years ago, and, I’d imagine, the list of many another bibliophile. The book centers on the new night-shift employee at a 24-Hour-Bookstore in San Francisco, who has taken the job after being laid off from his tech-start up in the Great Recession of the l
This book sounds like a dream, but ended up being a nightmare.

I’ve been deceived. Duped. Cheated on, or whatever you want to call it: I’ve been tricked by this book’s intriguing premise and instead of getting a story about a mysterious old bookstore, I get a book overflowing with overused tropes, stereotypical characters and lots, LOTS of references to nerd culture, Google, and boobs.

WFT happened? The first 100 pages were so promising! Clay gets a job at working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’
Lois Bujold
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pretty much anyone
Recommended to Lois by: various internet reviews

Good first-person voice, and through it, characterization. The narrator/protagonist has a head I enjoyed spending time in.

This is a book both from the 21st century, and that delights in the 21st century, an incredibly welcome change from all the grimdark political dystopias out there at present.

They sly explorations of the differences between a map and a territory, analog and digital, reality and its representations, (not to mention the past, the present, and the future, tho' I am reminded that
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly original page turner with a wonderful mix of dusty bookstores and old bibliophiles, alongside the digital age of Googling masters and venture capitalists, and how both worlds have their ideas and uses in the mystery that emanates from Mr Penumbra's book shop :-) 8 out of 12.

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Robin Sloan is the author of the novels Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and Sourdough. He grew up near Detroit and now splits his time between the Bay Area and the internet. ...more

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