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Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore

Sloan, Robin

(Downloadable Audiobook - 2012)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore
Print
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012
Branch Call Number: OverDrive downloadable audiobook
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 sound file)
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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After a layoff during the Great Recession sidelines his tech career, Clay Jannon takes a job at the titular bookstore in San Francisco, and soon realizes that the establishment is a facade for a strange secret.


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Aug 01, 2014
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Information and stories. That's the commonality. Convention prefers to set things in opposition to each other: books vs. computers; analog vs. digital; old vs. new; dusty vs. sleek. They may function differently, but at their cores books and computers are about the same things: storing and sharing information and stories.

Clay Jannon sits at the juncture of those two opposing worlds, that of books and that of computers. He is a computer designer in Silicon Valley, but desperation has him accepting a job at a dusty old bookstore that caters to very old-fashioned readers. That job gets him a new girlfriend who works for and--is all things--Google. It also gets him caught up in a centuries-old mystery involving a secret book society. Those are just the simplest of his connections to the two worlds, which grow deeply both ways. And Clay is special because he has a unique talent: he doesn't see the worlds as opposites or in conflict with each other; he is able to join them harmoniously in his perception, his life, his work. And so Clay sits at the juncture of an exciting mystery consisting of unexpected intrigue and adventure that takes him from the latest secret projects at the heart of Google to hidden underground libraries where the chained, leather-bound books are studied by black-robed scholars, breaking codes, uncovering mysteries, and so much more.

This is--to copy a description already used by others I know--a delightfully fun story. It came highly recommended and did not disappoint. Very nearly five stars.

Mar 12, 2014
  • jvehawn rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This book is one that I would recommend to anyone who truly loves books. THe audio version has a fun little easter egg, in that the Author of the book is the reader of the audio book in the story! This book can be a bit odd at times and the ending did leave me scratching my head, but with a smile across my face. I don't know if I would like the actual book as much as I liked the audio though. Overall this is a good book to listen to and if you love books, you should enjoy listening to this one.

Jan 22, 2014
  • KBesserman rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

nice book for book lovers

Sep 30, 2013
  • bgalla01 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Dan Brown meets Douglas Adams. If you are addicted to audio books it is great. The book discusses audio books.

Aug 01, 2013
  • JCLHopeH rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This is like a lighter, geekier version of a Dan Brown novel, in which the characters are on a quest to decode a secret message left centuries ago by Venetian printer Aldus Manutius. It mixes a fictional ancient society with contemporary Google-ization, and I found it rather charming. I recommend listening to the audiobook, as reader Ari Fliakos does an excellent job giving each character a unique and engaging voice.

May 01, 2013

It starts out like a fine mystery. The protagonist, Clay Jannon, is hired by a San Francisco independent bookstore owner -- Mr Penumbra -- to retrieve books from 10 pm to 6 am, at the request of long time bookstore customers holding an unusual interest in highly obscure volumes. In fact Clay has never heard of any of these book titles, which are never purchased, only loaned.

When Clay examines one of these books, he sees page after page of unreadable encrypted characters, no spaces, no punctuation. Yet the customers return night after night, returning one book, and taking another. At this point, about 10% in, the story looks like it has potential.

Then the whole thing degenerates into a sort of "Dungeons and Dragons" meets Google:Books fantasy.
The story fails to hold the reader's interest. I can't recommend this one.

One word summary: Tedious.

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Aug 01, 2014
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

You know, I'm really starting to think the whole world is just a patchwork quilt of crazy little cults, all with their own secret spaces, their own records, their own rules.

Aug 01, 2014
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I've never listened to an audiobook before, and I have to say it's a totally different experience. When you read a book, the story definitely takes place in your head. When you listen, it seems to happen in a little cloud all around it, like a fuzzy knit cap pulled down over your eyes.

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May 01, 2013

The protagonist, Clay Jannon, is hired by a San Francisco independent bookstore owner -- Mr Penumbra -- to retrieve books from 10 pm to 6 am, at the request of long time bookstore customers holding an unusual interest in highly obscure volumes. When Clay examines one of these books, he sees page after page of unreadable encrypted characters, no spaces, no punctuation. Yet the customers return night after night, returning one book, and taking another. The question is: Why?

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