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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mr. Penumbra's Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan

I just finished reading this great short story by Robin Sloan and had to write about it.  I came across the story when I stopped by Stacy's blog, A Novel Source, this morning and she had just posted about it.  I found the title of the story itself intriguing - a 24 Hour Book Store!! - so I had to check it out for myself.  The story can be found here for FREE to read - Stop by and read it!!!

Basically we have a story about a young man who has lost his job and has been searching for a new one, but in this economy, well, that is proving to be rather difficult.  So he happens to come across a Help Wanted sign in a store front - specifically, the Twenty-Four-Hour bookshop located next to the strip club.  He wanders inside and finds himself applying for the job and proving to Mr. Penumbra (bookshop owner) that he can indeed climb ladders and reach for books that are not within easy grasp.  He lands the job and is told:

This job has three require­ments, each very strict.”
1) “You must always be here from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. exactly. You must not be late. You can­not leave early.”
2) “You may not read, exam­ine, inspect, or oth­er­wise touch any of the books in this store—unless you are retriev­ing it for a customer.”
3) “You must keep pre­cise records of all pur­chases. Time. Amount. The customer’s appear­ance. His state of mind. How he asks for the book. How he receives it. Does he appear to be injured. Is he wear­ing a sprig of rose­mary on his hat. And so on.”

Talk about strange rules - working in a book shop where you can not read any of the books! That would drive me BANANAS!  And keeping tabs on the customers, hmmm, suspicious!  Anyhow, suffice it to say that our protagonist winds up uncovering some interesting facts about the owner of the store, the customers and the logbook - all with the help of computers, Google and technology.  Yes, this is a story about how modern day techno gadgets and jargon have started to influence and affect the book world/industry.  And let me just say that it is done rather well. I absolutely loved reading this story! From the beginning, you become completely engaged with the character and his struggle in searching for a job and once he starts working for Mr. Penumbra, you can't help but want him to figure out this bookshop's mystery and the truth about Penumbra. 

The writing is great and the characters are fun to read about and the story itself is original and creative. I would highly recommend that you stop on by at Robin Sloan's site to read this story NOW!  Check it out when you have some spare time - it does not take long to read and well, its FREE, so why not just give it a go. I love reading about books, book stores, etc - so this was definitely my cup of tea. If you give it a read, let me know what you thought of it! Enjoy!!

25 comments:

Steph said...

This sounds like so much fun, though the job does not! Like you, I'd go absolutely nuts if I couldn't even touch a book, never mind read it... As much as I love the idea of 24-hour bookstore, clearly I could not work in that one!

Brenda said...

sounds interesting. I am going to have to check it out.

Brenna said...

Oh I am so happy this is starting to make the rounds! I loved loved loved this short story! I reviewed it a few months ago: http://literarymusings-blog.blogspot.com/2010/05/mr-penumbras-twenty-four-hour-book.html

Nadia said...

Steph, I know! I could never work in that bookshop, but I loved the idea of being able to go to a bookshop at any hour of the day or night!

Brenda, definitely check it out! Its such a fun read!

Brenna, I'll have to check out your review it! It is such a great story to read - I loved it! I love when something like this comes along and starts making the rounds - its great to get more people reading it!

Stacy at A Novel Source said...

yeah!!! I'm so glad you loved it too!!! and wow to have it be making the rounds is way, way cool! I so loved this book - it was quick, and such an interesting concept! Thank you for sharing!!!

Amy DeTrempe said...

I will have to come back and read this one when I am not on my lunchhour.

Nadia said...

Stacy, it is such a great book! I loved that it was such a quick and interesting read - perfect when you are trying to sneak some reading in at work :)

Amy DeTrempe, definitely try and read it when you have some more time - its worth it!

Julie said...

I love it! Thank you for sharing - what a great way to pass the last few minutes of a long work day!

Nadia said...

Julie, no prob! So glad you enjoyed it! And you are completely right - it is a great way to pass the time (especially at work). :)

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I'm jumping in anticipation to download this while on vacation!! I agree, too -- working in a bookstore but can't read the books! Perhaps a circle in Dante's world for me!! :)

Nadia said...

Coffee and a Book Chick, this story is perfect for a vacay read! I know! To have all of those books at your fingertips, but you can't open them - AHHHHH! :)

Lisa said...

Heading over to read it now--sounds great!

Nadia said...

Lisa, can't wait to find out what you thought of it! I hope you enjoy it!

Kalanna said...

love the background for the blog. we all love book, but it gives the place a nice clean look. good job! :)

Nadia said...

Kalanna, thanks so much! I'm always a bit iffy on how to make the blog look clean, but nice - and I think this look works! Cheers!

Bellezza said...

Nadia, what a compelling review you've written! It makes me want to read it Right Now, but I'll wait until tomorrow as I won't be going on my morning bicycle ride in the 90 degree temps. Thanks for the link!

Tom C said...

Well, its not often the book is provided for free alongside the review. Very useful!

I've got the link and will read it later.

Nadia said...

Tom C, I hope you enjoy this read. It was definitely interesting and rather thought provoking with regards to technology and books. Such a treat to read.

Matt said...

It will be the greatest torture not being able to touch any books in a 24-hour bookstore! Keeping a record of customers and transactions is not that difficult. I need my books! :)

MadlyBumBle said...

Thanks for the great link, I have bookmarked it. I love the idea of a 24 hour bookshop! I agree with the other commenters that it would be a nightmare not being allowed to touch any of the books !

Nadia said...

Matt, I know! I couldn't even imagine being in a bookshop and not being able to open one book - the horror, the horror!

MadlyBumBle, hope you enjoy the story!

Wallace said...

Oh this looks like a good one! How very, very interesting. I bet it would make a good book club selection -- stuff to talk about.

Nadia said...

Wallace, it would definitely be a good one to chat about with a book club - there is tons to talk about.

Aths said...

I read your review quite a few days back, but forgot to comment. I loved your review .. and am eager to read this book. It sounds great!

Lizzi said...

I'm intrigued! I'm definitely going to read it this weekend.