I spent most of the day to finish reading “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore”. It’s the risk of reading a good fictional book. I think I have better control of myself when I read nonfiction. It’s simply so tempting to know what happens next.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan.

❝Your life must be an open city, with all sorts of ways to wander in.❞

Caught the sight of this book from Linh’s facebook about 2 days ago, I went to read it right after, and I’ve finished it just now. It’s easy to see when I like a book. I finish it quickly, no matter how thick or difficult it is to read.

It is a delightful book. It combines the worlds of books and technologies and make them dance harmoniously. New ideas floods through the whole story, inspires me to no end. It’s sparkling and joyful to see all the pieces coming together in a very creative way.

Apart from the brilliance, some of my side favorite parts include:

“San Francisco is a good place for walks if your legs are strong. The city is a tiny square punctuated by steep hills and bounded on three sides by water, and as a result, there are surprises vistas everywhere. You’ll be walking along, minding your own business with a fistful of printouts, and suddenly the ground will fall away and you’ll see straight down to the bay, with the buildings lit up orange and pink along the way.” The feeling of a beautiful scene suddenly widely opens in front of your eyes when you didn’t expect it, is very appealing to me. It’s great to get the feeling at the exact same time while reading.

It’s somehow similar with the feeling when the main character – Clay Jannon – follows Rosemary Lapin to her place up a long and high and narrow staircase. I love how things are described in this book. Its details allows my imagination to run wild and get all sort of feelings from it.

I like Rosemary’s story about her first encounter with Penumbra, too. “I was one of his customers,” she says. “I had been going to the store for, oh, six or seven years. I was paying for a book one day – I remember this so clearly – when Mr. Penumbra looked me in the eye and said, ‘Rosemary'” – she does a good Penumbra impression – “Rosemary, why do you love books so much?’
“And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know.'” She’s animated, almost girlish now: “‘I suppose I love them because they’re quiet, and I can take them to the park.'” She narrows her eyes. “He watched me, and he didn’t say a word. So then I said, ‘Well, actually, I love books because books are my best friends.’ Then he smiled – he has a wonderful smile – and he walked over and got on that ladder, and climbed higher than I’d ever seen him climb.”

I suppose my most favorite character must be Mr. Penumbra – an old person with great love for books that goes parallel with the curiosity for technology, great eyes in choosing his clerks, his cheerful and warmth personality, and even his way of disappearing every now and then. The way his character is portrayed gives me the impression of a child with all good intentions but he’s lost somehow. The good thing is that he finally ends up surrounding himself with the best group of people. I find a bit of myself in him. He feels close to me.

It’s a bit funny to see all the recognizable brands in the book – Google, Apple, Sony, etc. I normally wouldn’t expect to see some real things in life that I see everyday appear in a fictional book, but apparently it’s a part of the fun.

I guess I will read this book again, since there’s no urge to know what’s going to happen anymore so I can get a deeper and more thorough look at it. And I believe I will buy its physical version, too. I heard it glows in the dark? : D

Linh’s comment was like this: “This book makes me believe that there are wonderful stories out there that are simply built on the world we live in — no need for fancy wizards, dragons or vampires. All it takes is a bit of imagination. : )”, and I replied: “Very much so. : )”. Really, isn’t it thrilling to know that we can do so much? Possibilities – they are endless. This world is magic itself.

The rest of the day was occupied with messages on facebook. Truc said she turns to my intellectual treasury whenever she’s stressed, since it kind of calms her down : ). Nhung is working through her path of career and I’m glad it seems I can help. Then there were some conversations with Thao Chi, Van, Ville, and Oanh. Nice, nice, nice.

Now I need to write some emails then proceed to sleep. The final exam for Social Psychology is already opened and I’m so not ready. Must study hard for it!!


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