What I Read: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

4/5 pineapples

Oh, blogger’s block.

I was pumped at the beginning of this year about my blogging. I would do it more and consistently. I would have exciting new posts that would attract the attention of all my readers. I would find a style that worked for me. I would create a space that was a hobby, not a chore.

But the best laid plans…

I tried to post, I really did. But every time I started something, I didn’t like it. It never had the tone or content I wanted or that I felt was worth publishing. So I was silent.

Until now.

What I Read: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore | Scribbling in the Margins blog

Last night I finished Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, a novel of books, computers, Google, twenty-somethings with 21st century jobs, and people in black robes. This book was a roller coaster, surprising me in subtle ways and changing throughout the lines in each chapter. By the time I closed the paperback, I wasn’t sure what I thought–or, for that matter, what had just happened to me.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore explores the relationship between books and technology, a topic most of us dance around nowadays. I don’t like to see books give way to code and digitization. A character who works at Google actually says:

“I mean, once we’ve got everything scanned, and cheap reading devices are ubiquitous…nobody’s going to need bookstores, right?”

Um, wrong. I’m grateful when Clay, the narrator, replies with: “We’ll be fine…people still like the smell of books.” YES WE DO! And the rough paper between our fingers, and the satisfaction of watching the pages stack up to the left side of the books, and our thumbs catching on the fibers of paper to turn the page…

But I digress.

Mr. Penumbra makes me think about books, and I love that. Why do we read them, and what are we looking for? What do they tell us? And how much does technology matter in how we understand and use them? It’s thought-provoking, and full of little lines about books and life that make me want to pinch the words right off the page and into something I wrote (yes, I know that’s wrong–hush, hush, I’m not actually going to do it).

What I Read: Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore | Scribbling in the Margins blog

There are times where the book would drag a little for me, or where I lost the plot/what mattered. Part of this is because I was reading it in bits and pieces every night, but part of this is because the story takes a little while to get moving. I had trouble getting into the book until at least halfway through; but once I got there, it was well worth it.

I also almost banged my head against a wall when I saw “Epilogue” printed at the top of the last chapter. NO NO NO. The book ended just fine before that; I didn’t need to know how everyone lived happily ever after, and I felt like Sloan cheated me out of imagining my own futures for the characters.

All the same, a book for readers and technology-lovers alike, I really enjoyed the balance between print and screen Sloan explores in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. 

What do you think–do books have a future in a technology-based world?

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Oh, and P.S.- try reading it in the dark.

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2 thoughts on “What I Read: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

  1. Another thing we have in common — I’m not a great fan of epilogues. (Although I admit loving the epilogue to the Harry Potter series!)

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