Monday, November 12, 2012

For Book Nerds, the Comfort Food of Books

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour BookstoreMr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book, for me, was like someone read all the same books as I have in the past few years, then sat down and wrote a novel combining elements from all my favorites.  There's a pinch of library adventure in the style of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler.  Then there's a touch of The Da Vinci Code (don't hate; it was fun to read), but without gruesome murders or the casting of disturbing aspersions on a major religion.  Face it, secret societies generally make for good times, and secret societies organized around methodical study of old books make for even better times.  There are joyful bits of Ready Player One gamer nostalgia and of The Magicians childhood fantasy novel nostalgia.  There's even a dash of Just My Type: A Book About Fonts-style font geekcitement.  Yes, I made up that word, and yes, I know none of you read Just My Type -- but that just underscores my point, that Robin and I are clearly kindred spirits.  And yes, since you [didn't] ask, I've decided I'm on a first-name basis with the author.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon, #2) Ready Player One
 The Magicians (The Magicians, #1) Just My Type: A Book About Fonts

What tipped this from four to five stars for me was the deft handling of the inevitable confrontation between centuries-old books and the modern-day repository of all knowledge (also known as The Google).  I won't spoil it for you, but I got quite a kick out of it.

Pick this up when you need a fun and easy read that doesn't make you feel like you've picked up a disposable or trashy "beach read."  It's serious in setting but not in style; like mac and cheese made with pure├ęd cauliflower, it goes down easy but you don't have to feel guilty about it.

Delicious yet not entirely devoid of nutrients:  in other words, practically magic.


Anonymous said...

And I give your review 5 stars for the neologism or nonce word "geekcitement". Well played.

Sarah said...

The fact that it's a book that combines real life and social elements is also why I want to read it. The Center for Fiction had a 24 hour reading of it, with some of my favorite internet celebrities (such as Jason Kottke and Rachael Fershleisser). That combined with your review makes me stoked to read it!

Dave said...

Did you make that mac and cheese? ;)

Marie-Amelie said...

I love books about books!

Ashley C Scott said...

The opportunity to get the essence of all the many books you like to read by reading one book is one that I cannot pass up! Don't make me buy it since I'm going to read it either way (just like I read geek love, lol. does "geekcitement" also involve chickens and/or albino hunchback dwarves?)

Erika P. said...

I'm pretty interested in the tension between books and technology and it's completely metaphysical and cool to read a book about that struggle. I'm also unashamed to admit that I liked the Da Vinci Code and am always looking for a book that you can't put down!