My Favourite Quotes from Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

By Suman

It’s hard not to smile while reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan — there’s basically a charming line or exchange that you’ll want to share on every page. And since HarperCollinsCanada is hosting a discussion on their Facebook page today about this delightful book, I thought I would put together a quick list of some of my favourite quotes to get the conversation started!

1. “I’d sit at my kitchen table and start scanning help-wanted ads on my laptop, but then a browser tab would blink and I’d get distracted and follow a link to a long magazine article about genetically modified wine grapes. Too long, actually, so I’d add it to my reading list. Then I’d follow another link to a book review. I’d add the review to my reading list, too, then download the first chapter of the book…Then, help-wanted ads forgotten, I’d retreat to the living room, put my laptop on my belly, and read all day. I had a lot of free time.” (page 3-4)
Note: Is this too long to be a favourite quote? Perhaps. It’s found at the very beginning of the book and is one of the reasons why I relate to the main character, Clay Jannon, so much.  In this passage, Robin Sloan has basically described what my life was like during those (not so long ago) months of unemployment.

2. “But I kept at it with the help-wanted ads. My standards were sliding swiftly. At first I had insisted I would only work at a company with a mission I believed in. Then I thought maybe it would be fine as long as I was learning something new. After that I decided it just couldn’t be evil. Now I was carefully delineating my personal definition of evil.” (page 6)
This was basically my entire thought process while job searching post-grad school.

3. “Neel takes a sharp breath and I know exactly what it means. It means: I have waited my whole life to walk through a secret passage built into a bookshelf.” (page 143)
Years of watching soap operas and espionage shows (namely Alias) have led me to believe that bookshelves that hide secret passageways are completely normal and commonplace, so, like Neel, I have waited my whole life to walk through one.

4. “There is no immortality that is not built on friendship and work done with care. All the secrets in the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight.” (page 288)
This is such a great quote because the answers to the most complicated questions usually are found in the most obvious places.

5. “I walk alone in the darkness and wonder how a person would begin to determine the circumference of the earth. I have no idea. I’d probably just google it.” (page 210)
I too would probably just Google it.

6. “He has the strangest expression on his face—the emotive equivalent of 404 PAGE NOT FOUND.” Pg. 96
Because I have described facial expressions as error pages and I’m not embarrassed to admit it.

7. “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.” (page 12)
Anything that alludes to Harry Potter is bound to end up on my Favourites list.

8. “Not everyone. There are plenty of people who, you know—people who still like the smell of books.” (page 65)
I love this quote because while I usually avoid the whole e-reader vs. physical books debate, I do love the smell of books. Also, this quote reminds me of my favourite Rory moment from the Gilmore Girls, cut to 1:26.

9. “If fidgets were Wikipedia edits, I would have completely revamped the entry on guilt by now, and translated it into five new languages.” (page 80)
This line shows how fun and charming Robin Sloan’s writing style is.

10. The last line.
I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but the last line of this book is absolutely lovely.

Have you read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore yet? Let us know your favorite quotes!

Follow me on twitter @suman_says

Start reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore on the HCC Facebook page.

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Digital Marketing Coordinator at HarperCollins Canada. Film, fiction and fashion blog enthusiast. Follow me on twitter @SavvyReader & @ktvncnt.

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