A book about a bookstore is catnip for me. I’ve had this one on my shelf and I selected it randomly. The story follows Clay Jannon, whose tech job goes away during the Great Recession (2008 edition). Clay takes a job working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Penumbra himself is a benevolently odd man who imposes very few rules on his employees. It soon becomes apparent to Clay that there is something out of the ordinary about Mr. Penumbra, his store and his clientele. He embarks on a quest, along with his friends, to unlock its mysteries and discovers a secret library, a nationwide collection of antiquities and lots of interesting new people.
I liked this book. It was a nice distraction from the hellscape that was the news in January of 2021. Though Clay’s quest (and I use that word intentionally here) literally went across the country things were relatively low stakes. Each of Clay’s friends brought their resources and talents along with them because this is as much a book about friendship as it is about a bookstore in San Francisco. Though I felt that the problems were a little too easily solved with the magic of Google in some parts (that is the corporation not just the search engine) this book was a fun journey that didn’t end up where I thought it would and for that I am glad. Sometimes a simple answer with a happy ending is all you need when the real world is a garbage fire.