Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Silicon Valley semi-slacker Clay Jannon has lost his web-design job and is on the hunt for new work. He gets desperate enough that he finds a job from a help wanted sign in a book store window. It’s not just any book store. It’s open 24 hours and he has the late shift (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.). The store is odd for more than the long hours. A whole section of the store is devoted to books that are loaned out to a whole section of customers with little codes who mysteriously come and go. In fact, there aren’t many other customers aside from the code loaners. And Clay has to keep a strict record of which books are loaned and by who, with details going down to the type of buttons on their shirts! Such mysteries cannot be left unexplored, which is just what Clay does, leading into an adventure with romance, a secret society, the search for immortality, and Google all thrown in.
The book is a charming, light tale of adventure that shows a clear love of books, fantasy, technology, type faces, and many other hip things. The story is told from the first-person perspective of Clay, who has a fun and quirky voice. I listened to this as an audio-book and the narrator Ari Fliakos embodies Clay very well. I found the ending a bit too incredible but it is a very light-hearted story, so it’s hard to find fault.
Catch a more in-depth discussion of the book at A Good Story Is Hard to Find podcast.