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Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

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Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan is one of those books that is not easy to forget.

Clay Jannon is an unemployed art school graduate who last worked for NewBagel, a San Francisco-based bagel company founded by two Google employees who set out to create the perfect-shaped bagel.

He creates the website for the company and assists with public relations as well. When the recession hits, however, the public desire for the perfect bagel begins to disappear and Clay finds himself out of a job.

He spends his days on his couch scanning “Help Wanted” ads on his laptop and finally begins to wander the streets looking at storefronts looking for “Help Wanted” signs.

He finds one on the window of a bookstore looking for someone who could work late shifts.

Upon wandering inside he finds that the bookstore has an unusual design, with high shelves of books that stretch all the way to the ceiling. The bookstore is run by the mysterious Mr. Penumbra, who after hearing Clay’s love of a fantasy series hires him.

What he finds is that there are few customers and those that do frequent the store ask for mysterious texts. With the help of his friends he begins to analyze their book choices and discovers that the customers and Penumbra have a secret book fellowship.

The book takes you from the bookstore to New York to Google headquarters and lets the reader discover that there may be more to the world of books than meets the eye.

About Caitlin Gong