May-June 2014 Book Club Choice

May June is always a very busy time for many of our group members so we decided to add extra reading time to this choice. Our book is Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Here is a bit of the NY Time review December 2012

We take an arrogant pleasure in the notion we might be the generation that renders so ancient a technology obsolete. “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,” by Robin Sloan, dexterously tackles the intersection between old technologies and new with a novel that is part love letter to books, part technological meditation, part thrilling adventure, part requiem.

Clay Jannon, an unemployed Web designer, takes a job working the graveyard shift at a 24-hour bookstore, owned by the strange Mr. Penumbra. The store is just as inscrutable, with two kinds of customers — random passers-by who stop in so rarely Clay wonders how the store is able to stay open and a furtive “community of people who orbit the store like strange moons. . . . They arrive with algorithmic regularity. They never browse. They come wide-awake, completely sober and vibrating with need.” These customers borrow from a mysterious set of books, which Clay has been warned not to read. He surrenders to his curiosity and discovers that the books are written in code. With the help of his roommate, a special effects artist; his best friend, a successful creator of “boob-simulation software”; and his romantic interest, Kat Potente, who works for Google in data visualization, our likable hero goes on a quest.

“Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” is eminently enjoyable, full of warmth and intelligence. Sloan balances a strong plot with philosophical questions about technology and books and the power both contain. The prose maintains an engaging pace as Clay, Mr. Penumbra and the quirky constellation of people around them try to determine what matters more — the solution to a problem or how that solution is achieved.

There are charming moments. When the friends are staking out the Unbroken Spine, Clay observes, “Kat bought a New York Times but couldn’t figure out how to operate it, so now she’s fiddling with her phone.” We are reminded there are two kinds of people — those who function in an analog world and those who are so enamored with technology they cannot.

April Book Group Meeting

For our April Book Group we met at Betsy's Sunset Magazine home and enjoyed a lovely meal and a sparkling  book discussion. Originally planned for outside but moved indoors because of the possible threat of rain, the gathering was intimate and lively. One of our big surprises for the evening was no one brought Chinese food!

This poetic/operatic sad tale captured our hearts and made for an interesting discussion regarding making good-bad choices and bad-good choices.