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Review: Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Hey all, Dani here.

Continuing on with my celebration of National Library Week, my bonus post today is a review of a book that I had heard a lot about over the past several years, and I finally got around to reading it myself. I read it in one short sitting and one slightly longer sitting, but all of it took place on the same day. So, this was definitely a read that held my interest and made me want to keep reading all the way until I reached the back cover.

Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea this week to focus on books about books, libraries, bookstores, etc, and so far I have been quite pleased with the experience. Oh, I can also say that I read this book as part of my OWLs Magical Readathon. This book fulfills my requirement for Charms, which is Lumos Maxima: white cover. I should also say that I read this book during the 24 Hour Basically Readathon, and while it was the only book I managed in the 24 Hour time period, I am very happy with the experience.

Okay, let’s jump into the review.

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Pages: 288

Publisher: Picador

Publication Date: October 2013

ISBN: 1250037751 (ISBN13: 9781250037756)


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” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends, but when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

The back cover copy does not give you a whole lot to go on. We know that we’re going to follow Clay and that he leaves being a web-designer to becoming the night shift clerk at a bookstore, where some odd books and customers are. And there’s some sort of a mystery that involves a bunch of research and analysis.

That’s about it.

And you know what, that’s all that really should be there.

Because here’s the thing: this book is so unique. It is so many things in one, and I feel that to try and wrap that all up in a few paragraphs on the back of the book would not do justice to any of the aspects of the story.

I feel like this story is better when you go into it not knowing what to expect.

As some of the blurbs say this is a love letter to books, to research, to bookstores, and to technology. I was drawn into the story very quickly. Clay’s narrative voice was easy to follow, and it certainly had some humor in it as well.

Oh, random fun fact: I have the paperback of this, and it glows in the dark. All the yellow blocks that are supposed to invoke the thought/image of books, yeah, they glow in the dark. It was incredibly trippy to turn off my lights and see a glow coming off my bookshelf where I had my OWLs Magical Readathon TBR stacked.

I want to rave about how incredible this book is, but it’s so hard when I also feel like I don’t want to give much of anything away in regards to the story. There were so many quirky and intriguing characters, some major, some secondary, some minor, but each of them leaped off the page.

This is definitely a book I will be keeping on my shelf, and hopefully I will pick it up and reread it in a couple years, and still enjoy it just as much.

Where to Get a Copy

You can grab your own copy of this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local independent bookstore through IndieBound.

You can also check with your local library.

5 thoughts on “Review: Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan”

  1. I remember reading this book a few years ago and loved that it was set in my backyard (ahem Bay Area, so not right in my backyard, but close enough lol), I ended up really enjoying it.


  2. I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed this one – I loved it too! The quirky characters were the absolute highlight for me. And my version doesn’t glow in the dark so now I’m very jealous! X


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