Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review-Mr. Penumbra's 24 hour Bookstore





How can you resist a book titled Mr. Penumbra's 24 hour bookstore?  Especially if you like books.
The book starts out with Clay Jannon desperate for a job.  He's been working as a graphic designer for a bagel shop in San Francisco, but the shop closed, leaving Clay without a job (or a portfolio of work that would help him get another job.)  He applies for jobs, but has no luck.  One day, while wondering around the city, he notices a bookstore with a help wanted sign.  Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore is not your normal indie shop.  It is very narrow and very tall.  When Cal walks in, Mr. Penumbra asks what he is seeking.  Clay tells him he is seeking a job, and is hired, after he proves he can climb the impossibly tall ladder and retrieve a dusty old book.  Clay is assigned to the night shift. He notices that not many people come to the 24 hour bookstore, and those that do actually don't buy books.  Part of the store is a lending library.  Clay has been told not to look in these books, and to write down the descriptions of the people who check them out.  And they are a weird bunch.  Clay decides to try to get more customers, so he sets up an ad plan in Google.  Shortly after that a young woman named Kat appears.  She works at Google and helps Clay debug a program he is working on.  She and Clay hit it off, and the action of the book really takes off.  Together, they create a 3-d model of the store and the habits of the borrowers.  From there, they find out more about Mr. Penumbra and the secret society he belongs to.
There is a lot of high-tech in this book, both current and harking back to Gutenberg's time.  Google is almost a character.  It is a fun romp through book lore and current technology.    The author blends the old and the new and shows how they can live side by side:  one doesn't displace the other, but instead the two together can create something bigger than either one alone.

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore
Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore
By Sloan, Robin
2012-10 - Farrar Straus Giroux
9780374214913 Check Our Catalog 2013 Alex Award Winner

A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life--mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore. …More


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