Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
by Robin Sloan
This is a weird and delightful read. As you might deduce from the name, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is not your typical bookstore. Clay, recently unemployed and now the new night clerk, notices something odd: most of the customers he encounters don’t actually buy anything, but instead borrow obscure books from what seems to be an exclusive lending library. And after a few weeks, he realizes there’s a pattern. Charting the pattern and confronting Penumbra leads Clay into a mysterious world of book-loving secret societies, code breakers, ancient typographers, and just possibly the secret to eternal life. It’s a modern adventure story spanning from San Francisco to New York, the high-tech Google campus to Gothic underground libraries. Clay is an amusing and relatable narrator, and you can see his growth as the story progresses. All of the supporting characters are actually fleshed-out characters, not just placeholders. Overall, this is just a fun read, especially if you already love books (which I do). If you’re looking for something a little different and nerdy, give this a go.