Book review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore

Mr Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore

 Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Robin Sloan

Pub. Date: 2012
By Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 978-0374214913


Source: local public library



This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

      Whats in a name 2014  New author challenge 2014 Ebook-2
where are you reading


new eiffel 5

Glad to use my 5 Tour Eiffel just revamped rating system for this awesome book.

I have a huge list of books to read for virtual book tours, but the one next on the list had not arrived yet, so I decided to go for a treat. There’s plenty to choose from on my TBR, and my local library had Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore available on a nook.
I devoured it in 2 sittings.

Clay is looking for a job, and ends up answering an add to work in a bookstore in San Francisco. He soon discovers the owner is a bit of a weirdo, and there’s something really mysterious going on there.

That’s all I can tell you, BUT this book is pure awesome.

First it’s about books, and some very old ones, so it’s a sign this has to be good, right? Then it’s super geeky, and I just LOVED that mix of reverence for the old AND use of super modern digital tools, as well as the presence of planet Google, which I am kind of fond of. It’s a bit Umberto Eco-ish within the cyber world. It reminded me of Ready Player One, with the added bonus of revolving around old books.

The characters are real, fun, full of energy and passion. The suspense keeps growing as you discover more. It’s a quick read, perfect for a relaxing week-end.

And if you don’t mind coming this way, I need your help and have a question for you.

And now I need your help:

Would you have any book recommendation, knowing that I LOVED both Ready Player One AND Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore?
I’d like to read other smart, geeky books, combining the old and the new, with also some element of mysteries if possible.
Please leave all your wonderful ideas in a comment, thanks!


 The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a web-design drone, and serendipity, sheer curiosity and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey have landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than its name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything. Instead they “check out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he has embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behaviour and roped his friends into helping him figure out just what’s going on. But once they take their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the secrets extend far beyond the walls of the bookstore.

Evoking both the fairy-tale charm of Haruki Murakami and the enthusiastic novel-of-ideas wizardry of Neal Stephenson or Umberto Eco, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like—an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave. [Goodreads]



Robin Sloan

Robin Sloan grew up near Detroit and now splits his time between San Francisco and the internet.
He graduated from Michigan State with a degree in economics and,
from 2002 to 2012, worked at Poynter, Current TV, and Twitter.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is his first novel.
You can learn more at and follow along at @robinsloan.

14 thoughts on “Book review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore

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  6. I just read this one today and quite liked it too. Oddly enough, I didn’t love Ready Player One but this one hit the right note for me (maybe because it was set in a bookstore? ::grin::).


  7. Glad you enjoyed the book. I’ve heard great things about it and Ready Player One but I’m afraid I don’t have any recommendations, the nearest I can think of would be Eleanor & Park which isn’t really the same. Well done on What’s In A Name!


    • no problem, but read these 2 books, they are awesome. no: LISTEN to Ready Player One, the audio is amazing. I saw your post the other day about spam subscribers, and finally asked my question today


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