Tina Hertel's Reviews > Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
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really liked it
bookshelves: relationships, books, fiction, mystery, technology

A few years ago I went into the Human Resources office where I worked and asked for assistance in helping me decide what I want to be when I grow up. They made me take some fancy tests with multiple choice answers and then invited me back a few days later. I was presented with a report that told me I should become a librarian. I laughed and walked out of the room (and yes, I did eventually become a librarian). The reason those tests indicated I should become a librarian is not because I like to read (I do) but because I like to figure things out, I like to solve puzzles and mysteries, I like to learn new things, I like to make technology work for me, I like to make people's day. I also like word play, numbers, algorithms, and I like to laugh.

Yeah, that's nice, but what does any of that have to do with Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore? Everything actually. This book has all that and more as it weaves the old (dusty old books in an eccentric bookstore) with the new (can you say Apple and Google product placement?) into a story of intrigue, mystery, and even a little romance.

The story revolves around Clay, a web designer struggling through the recession by taking the graveyard shift in Mr. Penumbra's bookstore. The bookstore does very little business during his shift, but there are a few very regular customers, although they are not truly customers in the traditional sense. These customers seem to belong to some super secret, very mysterious book club that is trying to solve some life mystery by deciphering codes contained in books.

Clay soon realizes he cannot solve this huge mystery on his own, so he must pull in friends and his love interest and even all the computing power of Google to figure out what could be going on. The more he learns the deeper the mystery goes. Naturally, though, with Google helping out, an answer will be found soon.

Robin Sloan gives us a story that is warm and engaging and does not bog us down with techno-babble or other jargon. I totally engaged in this story on many levels, but for me, personally, it hit me at my love for both books and technology. Sloan shows us that we still very much need books even with all this wonderful technology we have today. Books and technology and the power they contain and the unlimited potential they bring out in all of us, if we let them.

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Reading Progress

November 11, 2012 – Started Reading
November 11, 2012 – Shelved
November 11, 2012 – Shelved as: relationships
November 11, 2012 – Shelved as: books
November 11, 2012 – Shelved as: fiction
January 10, 2013 – Finished Reading
March 6, 2013 – Shelved as: mystery
March 6, 2013 – Shelved as: technology

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Courtney I have this on my to-read list...I will have to move it up the list and read it soon!


Jonelle Tina, i just finished the book and your review captres it entirely! A very fun read!


Tina Hertel Jonelle wrote: "Tina, i just finished the book and your review captres it entirely! A very fun read!"

Glad you liked it, Jonelle! I should really check in here more often. I still can't decide between this and LibraryThing.


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