Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sourdough” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.75  ·  Rating details ·  30,700 ratings  ·  5,268 reviews
Lois Clary, a software engineer at a San Francisco robotics company, codes all day and collapses at night. When her favourite sandwich shop closes up, the owners leave her with the starter for their mouthwatering sourdough bread.
Lois becomes the unlikely hero tasked to care for it, bake with it and keep this needy colony of microorganisms alive.  Soon she is baking loaves
Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by MCD
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sourdough, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kumari De Silva I read an article about a "Betty Club." I think the clubs: Susan, Betty, Lois etc. are usually based on names from the early 20th century...I never…moreI read an article about a "Betty Club." I think the clubs: Susan, Betty, Lois etc. are usually based on names from the early 20th century...I never heard of a club with my name for example.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  30,700 ratings  ·  5,268 reviews

More filters
Sort order
This book was great! It is fun and quirky. I think you can read it either to find purpose and meaning, or just for a nice, quick read.

I am definitely a Robin Sloan fan. I enjoyed Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore as well so I was looking forward to this one. While his stuff can be a bit out there (it definitely falls in the Magical Realism category), it is not so out there that it is hard to stay engaged. It is like he takes things from our normal, everyday lives and tweaks them slightly towards
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: free-from-work
oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for best fiction! what will happen?

this is the same kind of breezy good fun as the author’s debut, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, but while that one was about computer-savvy booknerds having secret-society-based adventures in san francisco, this one is about computer-savvy FOODnerds having secret-society-based adventures in san francisco. so, totes different dynamic.

that might sound like me having a go at sloane, but i’m not at all - i love books an
Larry H
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I'm between 4 and 4.5 stars here.

Well, now that we've gotten that out of the way...

The above GIF probably clues you in on one of the reasons I requested this book from NetGalley the minute I saw it. (My obsessive love of carbs aside, I was a huge fan of Robin Sloan's last book, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstoresee my original review—so that had something to do with it, too!)

Lois Clary is a software engineer who moves her life from Michigan to San Francisco after receiving a job offer from Gener
Elyse Walters
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Living in Silicon Valley for many years - the Bay Area my entire life - Berkeley- Oakland- San Francisco - and San Jose.... I know many techie-self starters ....
Startup companies is synonymous with Silicon Valley as Sourdough French Bread is synonymous with San Francisco. Mix it all together and Robin Sloan has written the ultimate startup-sourdough novel that could ‘only’ have taken place in the Bay Area.

Software robotics developer - Lois Clary - from Michigan- moved to the heart of the start
Jan 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nutritive gel for dinner! People do this! That sounds like a futuristic overpopulated planet and dwindling resources scenario. At least, Soylent Green looked like it had texture and mouthfeel.

Anyway, our young hero gets to eat something a lot better, than nutritive gel slurry. She becomes launched on an adventure in baking. It is all very cute and kind. Fluffy like the inside of the loaf. I didn’t get a lot out of it. It’s pleasant. Maybe, I’m jealous. My starter doesn’t sing and smile.
Sean Gibson
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two truisms:

1) You don’t want to stand behind an elephant after it eats spicy food; and

2) It’s really hard to read a book called Sourdough and not want sourdough bread, especially when said book includes numerous scenes in which the main character is baking said deliciousness.

Notwithstanding that constant distraction, what stands out most about Sourdough is Robin Sloan’s ability to marry technology and whimsy in a way that feels organic (and yes, pun intended vis-à-vis the strange foodie subcu
This is a quixotic and whimsical magical fantasy teeming with warmth, charm and quirky characters. Lois Clary is a software programmer lured from her home and comfortable job to move to San Francisco with a lucrative financial and benefits package offered by General Dexterity, a robotics company. There she finds she is expected to commit body and soul and every hour in search of cutting edge robotic arm improvements. This takes it toll on her life, health and spirits as she develops a knot in he ...more
Rachel Hall
A novel that begins with such promise as it opens with a witty look at office life for the employees of the pioneering San Francisco technology companies and the fortunes of newly recruited and blissfully naive Lois Clary ends up with author Robin Sloan overworking the dough. Stretching credibility in the second half, what starts as an engaging comedy focusing on a young robotics engineer descends into a convoluted fairytale whilst attempting to make some wider commentary with parallels to socie ...more
I adored the first half of this book but the second half was, so odd.
Carol (Bookaria)
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, 2017, fiction
This book is about a woman baking bread and how this process transforms her and her life. 

I know, sounds simple, right?

Well, if you have baked bread you know there's a lot more to it than just putting the ingredients together. First, you have to understand that there is something different about baking sourdough bread, you have to have a "starter"

(image source)

A "starter" is a fermented combination of yeast, good bacteria, bread and water. Generally, you have to feed it every day, it is alive
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: magical realism fans
“She explained that a software sieve had scanned my résumé and flagged it as promising, and that she agreed with the computer’s assessment. Here’s a thing I believe about people my age: we are the children of Hogwarts, and more than anything, we just want to be sorted.”

Like the author’s earlier Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, this book is a quirky bit of fantasy, science fiction, and fun, and I enjoyed it equally. Lois grew up surrounded by computers at a time when she says they were wooin
I have come to believe that food is history of the deepest kind. Everything we eat tells a tale of ingenuity and creation, domination and justice--and does so more vividly than any other artifact, any other medium.

I am a foodie. Not the annoying hoity toity variety, more that I subscribe to the live to eat versus eat to live motto. I love a sumptuous meal, skillfully prepared and artfully served; I also love an uncomplicated meal with simple ingredients shared with family or friends. And I love
Apr 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lois Clary is a software engineer writing codes for a San Francisco Robotic company. She notices a takeout menu and decides to make a purchase. It sure beats the "slurry" (nutritive gel packs) that she normally eats. Heck, she becomes Clement Street Soup and Sourdough’s “Number One eater” She then learns her favorite restaurant is closing and the two brothers who own it, leave her with the starter for their sourdough bread. This is not your usual starter!

Almost overnight, Lois becomes quite the
da AL
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A difficult book to rate. Starts mouth-wateringly run-don't-walk to your nearest bakery charmingly versed, but woefully crumbles right at the end. The audiobook reader is phenom!
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-books
Interesting, entertaining, touches of magical realism. Who knew that so much could go on in the making of Sourdough bread!

So in case the reader is unaware, first we find out about the starter needed to make the bread and then we learn about microbes and what they do, and it is all very factual but delivered in a fun way via story. We are aware that the starter is a living organism and that the one we are dealing with is very special. Then the fun starts!

I enjoyed the book very much even when it
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2017
Very entertaining, breezy and quirky! I love Robin Sloan's unique "brand" - a mishmash of bleeding edge technology, magical realism and nerdy eccentricity. Stir it all together and you have an adventure like no one else's!

Lois Clary is a computer engineer specializing in robotics. She is lured from the Detroit auto industry to a cutting edge robotics firm in San Francisco where she works long stressful hours and subsists on a nutritive gel called "Slurry." (Yuck) One day she finds an advertiseme
Jenny (Reading Envy)
A sourdough starter opens the door to a mysterious underground world in near future San Francisco. Like most Sloan stories, this requires a healthy amount of suspending disbelief, but worth it. This was a very fun read, in fact I feel I should use the word "delightful." I want a spicy sandwich!

Carb nerds.. malevolent bread... I feel like giggling again.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy through Edelweiss.
Skyler Autumn
3 Stars

WARNING: Do not read this book on an empty stomach!


This book is about the greatest of all foods, BREAD! OK it's not exactly about bread its about passion, creativity, fulfillment and not being afraid to take the road less travelled.

This story revolves around Lois Clary a 20-something overworked underling at a robotics lab in San Francisco. Everyday she comes home mentally spent and completely drained collapsing into bed every night dreading the stressful hell that will await her tomorr
Nicole D.
Sep 07, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Recipe

1 part Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore formula (bookstore/font = Farmer's Market/sourdough starter)
1 Evil corporation which wants to ruin food
1/2 glutinous plot
1/4 overt message
3/4 ridiculous denouement
1/8 tsp technology
8 trite caricatures

Mix together and foist on unsuspecting lovers of Mr. Penumbra, collect proceeds.

This book was so bad I'm angry. Sloan's first book was cute and fun because it was a surprise - this book was the same formula/different topic. Sorry, but you don
Paula W
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Real, actual thing that happened at family Thanksgiving 2017:

Me: "Where's the iPad I got for Dad? I'm paying for network service on it so I know it is working even though your WiFi isn't."
Mom: "Oh. Well. It wasn't acting right one day, it wouldn't even turn on, so he threw it away."
Me: "He threw away an iPad? That cost me hundreds of dollars?!?!?!?! It probably just needed a good long charge or a software update."
Mom, becoming rather indignant: "IT WASN'T WORKING, PAULA. Anyway, he has a compute
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
Before you read this review, I need to issue a warning about this book. No, there aren’t any spoilers ahead. I just wanted to caution you to have plenty of freshly baked sourdough bread on hand because you’re going to crave the stuff like mad the moment you get into this story. Oh, the wonderful descriptions of the texture of the bread and its unusual crust, and the enticing aroma it emits, and the filling effect it has on the digestive system and the fulfilling effect it has on the nervous syst ...more

I have no idea what happened with Sourdough. One minute I’m sure I’m going to rate it four stars; the next, I’m contemplating two stars. In simpler words: This was shaky.

The beginning, however, was pretty great. I enjoyed all the talk about sourdough and baking — I swear, reading this made my stomach growl. But then the writing and story started to drag (it’s all about work, work, robots, work, singing/magical bread, more work). I’m not sure if it’s me or if other’s would agree.

So, the main c
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, 2017
As you might expect from Robin Sloan author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, this was a quirky, fun read with an offbeat plot and unusual characters.

Lois Clary has taken the plunge and moved away from her family, her home and safe job to work as a software engineer for a robotics firm. Although the pay is great the hours are long and she has no energy left to cook or socialise. She exists on a nutrient mixture called Slurry (doesn't that sound appetising?) and take out pizza until she disco
Jennifer Blankfein
Follow for reviews and recommendations.

Sourdough by Robin Sloan is perfect blend of culinary secrets and technological experiments. Lois is a programmer who spends her endless days writing code and programming a robot arm. She resorts to drinking a Slurry (an unappealing nutritional concoction) for lunch during the day, and ordering delivery of spicy soup with delicious bread from a neighborhood hole in the wall at night. She falls into this comfortable rou
Cindy Burnett
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
4.5 stars

I absolutely loved this unique, beautiful, frequently hilarious, life-affirming book. I am a huge fan of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and was thrilled to have the opportunity to read Robin Sloan’s new work early; thankfully, Sourdough does not disappoint. Lois Clary works incredibly long hours at a robotics company in San Francisco and almost nightly orders takeout from two brothers who operate a nearby neighborhood restaurant. The brothers encounter visa issues and are forced to le
Lisa Vegan
I really loved this. I thought I didn’t like the “out there” parts but then I did. I thought I wasn’t liking the ending but then I liked most of it well enough.

The story is quirky and charming, imaginative, and fun.

I loved that Lois’s apartment is 2 blocks over from mine, but the cross street ins’t mentioned and I suspect it’s quite a few blocks farther to the east than mine.

I did enjoy the realistic parts the most: San Francisco, Richmond District, tech person changing course and becoming a
L.A. Starks
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While not a mystery or thriller, this shortm intensely readable book combines tech and food in San Francisco with a winning protagonist and her arc of development as she leaves Michigan, goes to work for a quite-credible arm robot company, and then one day is given sourdough starter from her favorite cooks, starter that has an unusual history. This novel captures perfectly the foodie and tech ethe or ethea of northern California.

Much fun, great read, highly recommended.
Greg Zimmerman
Whaaaaat is this book? Not even robots can save a book about bread being exactly as interesting as you'd expect a book about bread to be.
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So I waffled between one and two stars for this, but ultimately settled on two because while I disliked it, it didn't inspire a fiery hatred the way most of the books I mark as one star usually do.

I'd call this a work of fabulism (NOT MAGICAL REALISM) with a heavy dose of "modern techy fable." Lois is an overworked tech employee living in San Francisco. She is exhausted, lonely, and generally joyless. Not exactly a fun place to start. But then, food! She starts ordering from a local "restaurant"
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this novel because I absolutely loved the author’s last offering, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore. I won’t say that this book is completely different, because there are a few similarities, but don’t be expecting a clone of Penumbra if you choose to read it.

Lois Clary is a charming main character—a software engineer at a demanding company in San Francisco, she comes to realize that she needs more in her life than code and liquid meals. The beginning of this realization (the starter,
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
For Love of a Book: February 2019 BOTM (Fiction) - Sourdough by Robin Sloan 13 60 Mar 01, 2019 05:34AM  
Dare to Dream: Sourdough (Group Read - 2018) 44 33 Mar 28, 2018 04:03PM  
Ultimate Popsugar...: November Group Read - Sourdough 42 366 Jan 07, 2018 02:43PM  
Play Book Tag: Sourdough by Robin Sloan 2.5 stars 4 34 Dec 16, 2017 09:44AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Underground Railroad
  • Beartown (Beartown, #1)
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette
  • Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir
  • The Handmaid's Tale
  • Young Jane Young
  • Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten
  • Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting-Pot Cuisine
  • What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky
  • Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home
  • Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance
  • 52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust
  • Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu
  • American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America's Back Roads
  • America the Beautiful: America the Beautiful
  • In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France
  • Dirt Candy: A Cookbook: Flavor-Forward Food from the Upstart New York City Vegetarian Restaurant
See similar books…
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.
“Here’s a thing I believe about people my age: we are the children of Hogwarts, and more than anything, we just want to be sorted.” 100 likes
“The internet: always proving that you're not quite as special as you suspected.” 36 likes
More quotes…