Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
As an out-and-proud dork, there is nothing I am happier to curl up with than a book about books. And given that my current existential crisis basically consists of me screaming "GIVE ME A BOOK-RELATED JOB!" over and over into the void... the story about Clay and his discovery of this unique vertical bookstore had me engaged from page one. Nevermind that one of my m̶o̶s̶t̶ ̶p̶a̶t̶h̶e̶t̶i̶c̶ biggest dreams in life is to have a library with the rolly-book-ladder-thingy (what can I say... I dream small).
The overall feel and pace of this book reminded me of Ernest Cline's Ready Player One. And the message of what can be accomplished when we combine the forces of paper books and technology is something I always love to get on my soapbox about. I'm a book nerd... of course I love the smell of books. And I do tend to purchase physical books over ebooks. But the weird moral superiority I see come from a lot of my fellow paper book lovers will only serve to hurt the future of literature in the long run. As Aaron Burr once taught me (in listening to that Hamilton cast album 342 times), the world is wide enough for both paper and electronic. And what could we potentially accomplish if we were to embrace that?!
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything instead, they "check out" large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele's behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore's secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan's "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.