Clay Jannon takes a job as a night clerk at San Francisco's strangest bookshop. Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore sounds like a bibliophile's dream, quirky and tall, with shelves you need very tall ladders to reach. I imagined it rather like Belle's library in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and the descriptions of the store certainly come under the heading of bookshop porn! But there is another side to Mr Penumbra's: shelves of ancient, uncatalogued books written in code, borrowed but never bought by excitable patrons whose details must be logged for posterity in the bookstore's ledger. Clay's curiosity leads him on a quest of epic proportions and, together with his friends, employs a combination of lost medieval artefacts, Google's headquarters, and Clay's own favourite series of fantasy books to crack a centuries-old code. Mr Penumbra is a light-hearted but unusual page-turner, a celebration of ancient books and new media, friendship and curiosity.
The whole economy suddenly felt like a game of musical chairs, and I was convinced I needed to grab a seat, any seat, as fast as I could.
Neel takes a sharp breath and I know exactly what it means. It means: I have waited my whole life to walk through a secret passage built into a bookshelf.
The books I love most are like open cities, with all sorts of ways to wander in.
I'm really starting to think the whole world is just a patchwork quilt of crazy little cults, all with their own secret spaces, their own records, their own rules.
Read it if you liked: The Night Circus by Erin Morgansten, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline