Sunday, 27 April 2014

Book of the Week: Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore

"Walking the stacks in a library, dragging your fingers across the spines - it's hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits."

I love reading all sorts of books. Classic literature, well known bestsellers, books that my friends rave about - to be perfectly honest, I just want to read ALL the books. Sometimes, however, the best books are the ones you've never even noticed; the ones you didn't even know were there. I picked up Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan in Waterstones only to take advantage of a 'buy one get one half price' offer. I hadn't heard anything about the book or it's author before, but it had a quirky cover and, as it was in their book club, I found myself quite intrigued. After getting through it far too quickly, I can tell you that I found it to be a wonderful read. Full of contemporary adventure, and fun little back stories, it really goes to show that the unexpected can be just what the doctor ordered.

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore tells the story of, you guessed it, a 24 hour bookstore run by a man named Penumbra (oh, the obscurity). Through the eyes of Clay Jannon, an unemployed web designer in desperate need of a new job, we learn about the mystery of Mr Penumbra, and how there is more to the shelves of his humble shop than meets the eye.  A lot more in fact, that cannot be seen even if you're searching. With Clay's knowledge of technology thrown into the mix, Penumbra's loyal customers team up with Google's (yes, Google. I always forget that there are actual people that work there) most promising employees in order to crack a code that's been puzzling readers for centuries. 

The one thing I really loved about the tome was the amalgamation of old and new - the coming together of book worshippers and tech wizards in order to solve an age old mystery. I will always be a book lover, but it's so interesting to read something that has a backbone based on literature, but that so well and truly incorporates the modern world of technology into its story. For me, it was this fresh and exciting perspective that really had me hooked. It may seem a little outdated in a few years, with it's plethora of references to Kindles and Fruit Ninja, but if you're of my generation, you'll love all of these contemporary allusions. I think delving back in in years to come will be a great blast from the past, reminding me of all those technological crazes that we love right now, but that will be long forgotten by then. 

Not a particularly deep read, it's a lot of fun, and had me smirking away to myself more than once. I'd consider this a great holiday pick for those who aren't huge fans of chick lit, or the soppy romantic stuff. Now don't get me wrong, I love a bit of Cecelia Ahern as much as the next girl but, to be honest, Sloan's writing is a lot more my cup of tea. So there you go - a quick, light review of a quick, light read. If you're not sold yet, Google it. There are actual people that work there, don't you know.

Have you read Sloan's contemporary tome? Are you a book or a Kindle girl? Let me know!


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