I think I first heard of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore by Robin Sloan, this past summer when I was looking for something to read after Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. (Side note: All geeks of all kinds should read that book. Now. I can wait.) I mean, let’s be honest: the title alone is enough to intrigue me. A 24 hour bookstore? Sold. How do I get there?
I got the book out of the library, but first I’m pretty sure I looked up the description on Amazon:
A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life—mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore.
I read it a few months ago in about a day, hanging on to every nerdy awesome word. The bookstore in question is piled high with mysterious books that the main character isn’t even allowed to read. Could there be anything worse than working the night shift in a bookstore and not being allowed to read the books?
But I digress. My point, and the reason this book relates to our project, is that it features a DIY bookscanner! Not the kind we are making, but a book scanner with pieces cut out of cardboard that you trace from a design printed off the internet. Cardboard. Light and compact enough to hide under your robes and smuggle into a top secret society library and assemble with the purpose of illicitly scanning books. You know, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into.
All that, and the cover glows in the dark, people!
Needless to say, when we were offered the chance to build a book scanner for school, I knew it was just a matter of time before I got recruited for membership in a mysterious and ancient literary society with code words and secret languages and ALL THE BOOKS. Oh, but I’m really not supposed to talk about it…
So, if you haven’t gotten to read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore yet, go ahead and check it out from your library. When you finish it and you’re ready to build your own book scanner, we’ll be here to help!