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Gadgeteer book club – Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Happy Sunday morning everyone. Since buying the new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite ebook reader (review coming soon), I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a Gadgeteer book club. I’m not sure if you all will have an interest in this sort of thing, but we can consider this an experiment and see if it turns into anything worth continuing.

I love to read but seem to hardly ever make time to do it. When I do make time, I have trouble finding books that excite me enough to drag me into the story. Lucky for me, I found a book that has done that and I wanted to share it with all of you. It’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. I’m only 30% finished with it, but I know if you enjoy visiting The Gadgeteer, you’re the type of person that will also enjoy this book. It combines adventure, mystery, fantasy, a little romance and geekiness into a fast moving story that I can’t seem to put down.  It’s set in San Francisco at a (you guessed it…) 24-hour bookstore. But it’s no ordinary bookstore. It’s more like a library where strange characters come to check out the even stranger books. I really don’t want to give any more of the story. If you’re interested in reading this book and discussing it in a couple of weeks, go to your local bookstore, library or Amazon and grab a copy.  Then we can meet back here in 2 weeks (is that enough time?) and talk about it, suggest other books that we might like to try next, etc.

If you’ve already read this book, please don’t leave spoiler comments. But do let me know what you think of the book club idea  :)

{ 35 comments… add one }

  • Lynn Lopez October 15, 2012, 8:43 am

    Hey way cool. I love to read also and find myself getting into a rut and reading the same type of books over and over. I will see about getting a copy of this and giving it a go. I read on the kindle app on my galaxy s III. I do have the 8.9in kindle fire hd on pre-order.

  • Julie October 15, 2012, 9:06 am

    @Lynn Hello, at least there will be 2 of us here if you decide to get the book. ;)

  • Kathy October 15, 2012, 9:29 am

    Sounds like a great idea and I will check this book out! Sounds like it is right up my alley!

  • Betty Widerski October 15, 2012, 9:51 am

    I just downloaded it from my local Indie bookstore (while again lamenting that Google is cancelling the arrangement that allows them to do do that after December)… though I don’t know if I’ll get to it in 2 weeks, and if I don’t I’ll be diving into NaNoWriMo for November! But I like the idea, and of getting recommendations for books I might like outside of my usual genres.

  • Frank October 15, 2012, 10:45 am

    Coincidentally, I started reading this book last night! I just wanted to second your recommendation – this would be a fun read for the readers of this site.

    Even if nothing comes of the book club, I’d love to see additional book recommendations in the future.

  • Julie October 15, 2012, 11:08 am

    @Frank yes I agree. That’s why I’m hoping we can get some discussions going. It’s funny that you started the book last night. How did you find it? I found it through some email news list I’ve somehow been subscribed to called GoodReads.

  • Rob Tillotson October 15, 2012, 12:15 pm

    @Julie FYI GoodReads is a social network/review site for readers… you just probably signed up and added a few friends and don’t remember doing it :) It is an excellent way to find new stuff to read if you can find people with similar tastes, and/or if the people on your friends list actually post reviews and update their status (unlike me :).

  • Julie October 15, 2012, 12:16 pm

    @Rob I usually just browse the newsletters to see if any of the books look interesting, but I’ve not logged into the site… at least not in very long time :)

  • Sandee Cohen October 15, 2012, 1:27 pm

    This is cool. You all can read the ePub on various digital devices, but I just bought the audiobook so will be listening to it. So I can comment on the performane.

  • Julie October 15, 2012, 1:33 pm

    @Sandee I bought the Kindle version which in my opinion is too expensive at $15.

  • Cyrano October 15, 2012, 1:51 pm

    Thanks for the suggestion. I’ve read a few reviews and see that the book is well-received. Just got my Kindle version for $11.99 which is about my max price for Kindle books. 2 weeks…? I’ll start tonight.

  • Helen Hegedus October 16, 2012, 6:15 am

    Julie: I love this idea, and your first book suggestion.

    My only “but” is that two weeks isn’t enough time, especially if one is trying to get a book or e-book from the local library. I’m 135 on the list for “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore”, and that’s about a three-week wait I think.

  • Julie October 16, 2012, 7:43 am

    @Helen Nothing is set in stone, So we can push out the discussion date if need be. :) In 2 weeks we can decide if we need to wait or go ahead and talk about the book.

  • carney October 16, 2012, 8:29 am

    I think your idea about the book club is a great idea. I am and avid reader and enjoy getting new book ideas like this one. I just purchased it last night.

  • Helen October 16, 2012, 1:29 pm

    O.K. Julie, thanks.

    I did want to chime in with my e-book reader of choice – my iPad (3rd generation). I use it with iBook, Kobo, Kindle, and OverDrive. Love … love … love it!

  • Julie October 16, 2012, 2:45 pm

    I’m really enjoying the new Kindle Paperwhite. The backlight makes a HUGE difference to me. My backup reader is my Samsung Galaxy S3 using the Kindle app.

  • Gayle October 18, 2012, 1:39 pm

    Hi — I just finished Mr. Penumbra’s 24hour Bookstore 2 days ago. I would love to take part in a book discussion.

  • Julie October 18, 2012, 2:57 pm

    @Gayle Welcome. I’m only 50% through it. But I’ll probably finish by the weekend. We’ll wait to talk about it after several more people finish. :)

  • Sandee Cohen October 24, 2012, 7:47 am

    Just finished the audio book last night. I’m ready to discuss as well as tell our club how the verbal performance was.

  • Julie October 24, 2012, 7:51 am

    I finished last night too. :) Let’s give it another week before we discuss the book so a few more people can finish.

  • Julie November 2, 2012, 3:54 pm

    Besides myself, Sandee and Gayle, is anyone else ready to talk about this book yet?

  • Helen November 10, 2012, 12:30 am

    I just received it from the library. And I’m on it … I’ll probably be done by mid-week. Loving it!

  • Julie November 10, 2012, 9:03 am

    @Helen Let’s plan to discuss it starting next Saturday.

  • Sandee Cohen November 10, 2012, 9:11 am

    Excellent! I’ve never been a member of a book club. But I like the idea of discussing this book.

  • Julie November 10, 2012, 9:16 am

    @Sandee me neither, but I thought it might be fun to give it a try. If anything it will be nice to get some ideas for more books to read :)

  • Helen November 12, 2012, 8:05 pm

    Two things:

    1. Good interview with Robin Sloan here: http://www.cbc.ca/spark/full-interviews/2012/10/31/mr-penumbras-24hour-bookstore/

    2. Anybody following this app/book: http://www.thesilenthistory.com/ ?

  • Lynne Ketner November 14, 2012, 12:21 pm

    Keep me updated on the bookclub.

  • Julie November 18, 2012, 8:34 pm

    Are you guys ready to discuss the book? I guess I’ll kick it off…

    First of all, I liked it. It was a fun and quick read. I loved all the geeky tech references that made me feel like the book was written for me. The story itself pulled me in quickly and I have to say I was sorry when it ended. I wished there had been more to it. A lot of people call it Tolkein-esque which I won’t really disagree with. I just wish there had been more adventures instead of just the main one. I was actually a little disappointed with the ending too. I wanted there be a little more to it.

    Anyone else think that the references to the Dragon-song Chronicles books were real stories? ;) Too bad they aren’t.

  • Helen November 18, 2012, 8:53 pm

    I loved the up-to-the-moment geekiness of the book. Apps, fonts, Google, people simplifying their wardrobe à la Steve Jobs, start-ups, economic failures, and outlier kids growing up to be financial successes (& good-looking).

    It was interesting how there weren’t really any bad guys … or some that were kinda mean and than weren’t by the end of the book. The secret of the book created only a bit of tension; there just wasn’t enough suspense, or things going wrong, to make it an exciting read. A fun read, yes; it just needed a bit more excitement.

    Apparently the book glows in the dark; it didn’t for me. Did it for you? (If you read the hardcopy version, of course.)

  • Julie November 18, 2012, 9:01 pm

    You’re right, there weren’t any hardcore baddies. So it missed the whole good triumphs over evil thing that so many books have.

    I read the ebook… so I don’t know about it glowing in the dark. Maybe you have to put the actual book under a light or something to “charge” it. :)

  • Sandee Cohen November 19, 2012, 8:51 am

    First, I “listened” to the audio book. So I had the benefit of a narrator who put a lot of drama into the story.

    I loved the start of the book. The characters were quite real. Mr. Penumbra felt a little sinister rather than just eccentric.

    However, I was terribly disappointed when the story moved to New York. There was really no need for it. (Any move adaptation would skip the location change.)

    I also felt the whole underground cavern of the society to be a bit much.

    It’s almost like someone told the author that he’d be in better chances for a movie deal if he went a little supernatural.

    Meanwhile, I loved the whole Google/puzzle breaking connection. My niece just started a job at Google and I kept thinking of her as the female Google employee. (Sorry, it’s been a couple of weeks and I’ve forgotten many of the names.)

    The characters that were the most fun for me were the ones in San Francisco taking out the books to read. I kept seeing old actors from British movies from the 40’s and 50’s such as Elsa Lancaster. I think that’s also why I was disappointed when the action moved away from the book store.

    The ending was a bit of a dribble off. And I’m sorry Mr. Penumbra is gone. I really think there is a setup for more stories based on the bookstore.

  • Sandee Cohen November 19, 2012, 8:54 am

    Oh, one more thing.

    The name of the font that was so important. I was only hearing it, so I didn’t know how to spell it to look it up.

    I felt with all the emphasis on the font that it should be a real one. But I don’t think there is a font like that automatically installed.

    Is there?

  • Julie November 19, 2012, 8:57 am

    @Sandee I was really hoping it was going to turn into a time travel story… Maybe because I’ve been trying to write a story of my own that was going to go down that path. :)

    I know there was a slight setup for a sequel, but I can’t really imagine what they would be since they wrapped up the whole mystery too quickly. It would have to be a completely new problem and how would the bookstore come in to play?

  • Sandee Cohen November 19, 2012, 9:07 am

    @Julie Time Travel would have been good. But I don’t think we would have been able to have the Google connection for code breaking also.

    And the Google connection was a welcome surprise.

  • Julie November 19, 2012, 10:40 am

    Well since the google code connection failed, I think it would have been fine to have both ;)

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