What if all of Malden read the same book?
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan was the main book selection for the fifth year of the popular community reading program. The book was named Best Book of the Year (2012) by NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle. It was a winner of the Alex Award and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize Award for First Fiction.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is “an old school mystery set firmly in tech-loving, modern day San Francisco.”
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. The full force of Google, social media, Hollywood movie design specialists, and a variety of other quirky characters band together to solve the mystery. With humor, cleverness, and insight, the book explores the power of books, technology, and knowledge, new and old.
The San Francisco Chronicle hails the novel as “a jaunty, surprisingly old-fashioned fantasy about the places where old and new ways of accessing knowledge meet.” The New York Times Book Review describes it as “part love letter to books, part technological meditation, part thrilling adventure, part requiem… eminently enjoyable, full of warmth and intelligence.”
As with the previous years of the program, Malden Reads encourages the community to read the book and explore its themes through book discussions, a film series, a community dinner series, and other social, cultural and thought-provoking activities for all ages and backgrounds.