This week’s book recommendation is Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. Mr. Penumbra’s bookstore is a place you can’t help but be curious about, and Clay Jannon unintentionally finds himself a job there working the night shift where he sees few if any customers. Clay quickly notices that the “regulars” never actually buy any books. They rather check-out volumes that cannot be found anywhere else in the world (at least not on the internet). Clay quickly becomes wrapped up in discovering what is happening in this seemingly quiet bookstore that holds an entire library of obscure books.
This book caught my attention several years ago and had been on my “to buy/read list” but I never pulled the trigger on it until recently. I happened across a copy at an annual book sale put on by the local library and finally picked it up. I opened it up and read through all 288 pages in less than one week, which was both liberating and reassuring for me since I have been in a reading slump of late. That alone should tell you how intriguing this book is. The mysteries within it unravel at the perfect pace as you follow Clay along in his journey to discover what type of business his employer is actually in.
One thing I really liked about this book is the way it weaves together the old with the new. The old being the books (some of which are hundreds of years old) and the new being technology. Clay is a web designer who is happy to have his job for Mr. Penumbra because any job is better than no job during a recession. I would consider another level of old and new to be the relationship between Mr. Penumbra and Clay. They are a perfect example about how we as people can learn from each other. Mr. Penumbra is fascinated by what Clay can do with a computer, while Clay in enthralled by the experiences Mr. Penumbra has had.
I’ve written this recommendation while carefully avoiding several key elements about the book that could potentially be considered spoilers. Since I would hate to give anything away, but I still have an overwhelming need to tell you more, I will leave you with one cryptic word that shouldn’t give too much away.