12 Quotes From 'Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore'

by Alex Weiss
Alexandre Morin-Laprise/Moment/Getty Images

Being a major fan of books and bookstores in general, I had an inkling that Robin Sloan's, Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore , was going to be a book for me.

The story of Mr. Penumbra and his mysteriously old, extremely tall, and odd-end bookstore begins when Clay, a college grad with no job, begins working the night shift. But he quickly notices that customers never buy anything; they simply 'check out' obscure books from strange corners of the mysterious bookshop. As luck would have it, Clay has happened upon a secret cult, and he gets wrapped up in a mystery for the ages. It's a love letters both to the written word and also the technology that's made it possible for us to read our favorite books.

Maybe you fell into a reading rut and need to be reminded why books are just so fantastic, or maybe you recently finished this book and miss it already. Either way, here are 12 lovely quotes on books, bookstores, and bookish people from Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore:

1. “Walking the stacks in a library, dragging your fingers across the spines — it's hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits.”

2. "After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. But I hope you will remember this:A man walking fast down a dark lonely street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need. A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.”

3. “I've never listened to an audiobook before, and I have to say it's a totally different experience. When you read a book, the story definitely takes place in your head. When you listen, it seems to happen in a little cloud all around it, like a fuzzy knit cap pulled down over your eyes.”

4. "He doesn’t seem to pay much attention to the bestseller lists…So, no teenage wizards or vampire police here. That’s a shame, because this is exactly the kind of store that makes you want to buy a book about a teenage wizard. This is the kind of store that makes you want to be a teenage wizard.”

5. "Imagination runs out. But it makes sense, right? We probably just imagine things based on what we already know, and we run out of analogies in the thirty-first century.”

6. "Her home is the burrow of a bibliophile hobbit -– low-ceilinged, close-walled, and brimming over with books.”

7. “Our books still do not require batteries. But I am no fool. It is a slender advantage.”

8. "I did not know people your age still read books,' Penumbra says. He raises an eyebrow. 'I was under the impression they read everything on their mobile phones.''Not everyone. There are plenty of people who, you know--people who still like the smell of books.''The smell!' Penumbra repeats. 'You know you are finished when people start talking about the smell."

9. "I always thought the key to immortality would be, like, tiny robots fixing things in your brain,” she says. “Not books.”

10. "I remember this so clearly — when Mr. Penumbra looked me in the eye and said 'Rosemary'... 'Why do you love books so much?' And I said, 'Well, I don't know' ... 'I suppose I love them because they're quiet, and I can take them to the park.' He watched me, and he didn't say a word. So I said, 'Well, actually, I love books because they're my best friends."

11. "The shelves were packed close together, and it felt like I was standing at the border of a forest--not a friendly Californian forest, either, but an old Transylvanian forest, a forest full of wolves and witches and dagger-wielding bandits all waiting just beyond moonlight's reach.”

12. “Turning the pages of this encoded codex, I realize that the books I love most are like open cities, with all sorts of ways to wander in. This thing is a fortress with no front gate. You're meant to scale the walls, stone by stone.”

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