It’s always a treat to find a book with the all things you love in life.
Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore ticks all the boxes for me. It contains all these elements:
- bookstores and working in bookstores
- set in San Francisco - my favourite city in the world
- a secret book club filled with eccentric characters
- fonts – which play an important part in the story
- detour in New York – my second favourite city.
The story begins with Clay Jannon, an out work web designer, who finds himself working the night shift at an old fashioned bookstore:Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.
Because of the economic downturn, Clay mourns for a web design career cut short before reaching its peak.
So instead off all things digital he now finds himself in a world of print and dealing with borrwwing cards and catalogues. Oh and he also get's involved in a secretive book club.
Clay's adventures takes him from San Francisco to New York, with a detour onto Google’s campus.
Along the way Clay has help from his childhood best friend who is now mega rich and owns a lucrative start up, an attractive Google employee and flat mate who works at Industrial Light and Magic.
See how much fun it is already? This book revels in it’s all its geekiness and I can’t remember a book I have enjoyed so much.
Needless to say, Dungeons and Dragons and sci fi are heavily featured in the story!
As well as a rollicking adventure book, what makes Sloan’s book a real standout is that it’s absolutely laugh out funny.
He writes with such a dry wit, taking a very sly, but also endearing take, on the whole tech start up culture in SF and the relationship between print and digital, ‘old knowledge’ and ‘new knowledge’.
Sloan is a former Twitter employee and I also loved all the details about Google and the way it operates.
As Kevin McFarland notes in his review,
In the end the book is a passionate embrace of all things digital and print.Sloan’s depiction of startup culture in San Francisco is positively dead-on and bitingly funny, and taking the story to Google’s Mountain View campus offers plenty of opportunities to poke holes in the puffed-up egos of the digital behemoth.
As a passionate reader who has embraced ebooks in the past year it also really resonated with me. What have we gained and what have we lost with the shift to ebooks?