Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Oh, you guys, this is the best book. If all the Atlas Shrugged has been crushing your faith in books and humanity, I recommend that you read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan as a palate cleanser.

The main character, Clay, is  San Francisco Web designer who gets downsized out of his job after the economy tanks and ends up working at a bookstore. As if the idea of a store selling actual paper books isn’t weird enough these days, this store is open 24 hours a day and seems to have a very odd clientele. Clay starts investigating and, with the help of his friends, figures out that there is quite a bit more going on in this bookstore. I don’t want to give much more away, but the story involves Google, and hipsters, and medieval mysteries, and is just completely charming.

I’ve raved on this site about The Magicians by Lev Grossman, and in a lot of ways this book feels similar–it’s very much of the present-day, with lots of pop culture references and discussions of Gen X issues about the meaning of life and career and purpose and such. But The Magicians, and a lot of books like it, are so dark. I loved The Magicians, but reading it was a wrenching experience. This book manages to address of a lot of the same issues without being heavy or depressing. It’s a quick read that will leave you feeling good about people and books and the world in general. Who doesn’t need that occasionally?

Kinsey’s Three Word Review: Fun, modern mystery.

You might also like: PopCo, or Neverwhere, or even So You Want to Be a Wizard, although Mr. Penumbra is lighter than any of those.