Yeah, I want to shop in that store!
I hear, “Books about Bookstores,” and I go,
I love books (obviously) and I love bookstores (duh), and it’s my ultimate dream in life to possible write my own book someday, and to own my very own bookstore. Say what you will a girl can dream. So you can understand my lack of decorum when my two favorite things are mentioned in one sentence. The first official job I ever applied for was for my favorite indie bookshop. I didn’t get it, and it’s cool you know I’m not bitter or anything.
No seriously I’m OK.
I know how to lose with class.
So books about bookstores allow me to geek out in an unfashionably manner, and they allow me to vicariously live an experience that I would have
killed to have had.
When it comes to this book about books, however, I am in a bit of a bind. I really loved certain aspects of the novel such as the characters the humor, the physical bookstore. Others aspects I found sort of meh, like the plot, the puzzles, and the grand mystery that was supposed to be the driving force behind this story. This could also be a common case of over hype. I may have expected this book to walk on water, so naturally I can’t help but feeling like I wanted more.
Mr. Penumbra s 24 hour Bookstore is located in San Francisco, and you’ll only find second hand book on its shelves, so don’t wander in expecting to find 50 Shades of Grey because chances are it won’t be there. So how does a second hand bookstore manage to stay afloat in these difficult times of Kindles, Nooks, and illegal e-book downloading? Well, that is because not all is as it seems in Mr. Penumbra’s quant little shop. From customers coming in at the oddest hours of the night demanding their books like so,“Kingslake! I need Kinglslake!” On top of their eccentricities, they have the tendency to borrow these strange books instead of buying. Clay our protagonist and shop clerk suspects something is up, and he recruits his nerdiest friends to help him solve the puzzle.
If you know me you know I’ m a massive nerd. I geek out in ways that embarrass everyone in my vicinity.I, however, I’m not ashamed. I earned my nerd stripes proudly, and I’ll rock them till the day I die. Reading the description of this one had me jumping for joy. I mean really how could I resist?
The first half of the book went smoothly as planned. I was laughing and nerding out, and absolutely loving every second of it, but somewhere in the middle I was still laughing still nerding out, but the loving had been solidly reduced to liking dangerously approaching meh territory. After the big “reveal,” I was more like Whaat?! I wasn’t swayed to the cause, but my love for the characters kept me at it. The ending wasn’t bad really just a little too convenient, and a definite Happily Ever After that you don’t see much outside of HR.
This book wasn’t the complete package, but sometimes the little pieces make up for the whole. As I said before, the big mystery just didn’t work for me. There wasn’t much suspense or drama that you would think would come with a big secret like that. The coding and puzzling was more for the techie nerds, than the bookish -word puzzles -anagram types.
What worked for me. The characters. No one got on my nerves, sure some of them were caricatures, but for some reason that didn’t seem to annoy me this time around. They worked great together as a team, and Clay was a down to earth funny guy. He understands my kind of humor and his internal monologues had me cracking up. “
What if he’s dead? Or what if he’s weeping to himself in a lonely apartment somewhere, where his family never visits him because Grandpa Penumbra is weird and smells like books?”
“He’s the warrior, you’re the wizard, I’m the rogue. This conversation never happened.”
“We need a James Bond with a library science degree.”
The book also tries to blend the old and the new. Kindles and paperbacks, archives and the internet. It doesn’t try to belittle the past and stomp the old out of existence, but it shows us how books and libraries and written records are still important and always will be despite whatever Apple or Google come up with. Speaking of Google. Jeez that is one thing I could have done without. This book is almost a walking propaganda for Google. Everything is “Oh look how clever those Google folks are” or “They’re googlers they can walk on the sun and decode everything at the speed of light.” We all know google people are smart. Do we need to be reminded 27/7? I didn’t.
Other bits I enjoyed. Random pieces of info like,
“An e-book costs about ten dollars right? And it’s usually about a megabyte’s worth of text. (For the record, you download more data than an e-book everytime you open Facebook.)
And of course this wouldn’t be a book about books without capturing the essence of why we love to read. From the friendships we form through the books we love, and how much those books teach us about life. Whether we get our books through our fancy pants e-readers, the threadbare used bookshops, or the big chains. What we can all agree on is that books are lovely and important to us. They allow us to live different lives, and they keep us company after all the friends and family have gone home.
“Well actually I love books because books are my best friends.”