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

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

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

I first heard of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan when it was announced as a 2013 Alex Award winner. The Alex Awards are for books written for adults that are deemed to have appeal for teen readers. Since I myself am an adult who works with teens, I like to check out Alex Award books when I can, and when I happened to see the audiobook version of Mr. Penumbra was checked in right before I left on a trip, I decided to check it out. I’m definitely glad I did!

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is a story for people who love books, but also for people who love the internet. It’s a book for people who love puzzles, and figuring stuff out. It’s a book for everyone who grew up looking for a secret door into Narnia or waiting for their letter from Hogwarts. It’s the story of Clay Jannon, who lost his graphic designer job and ended up working the night shift at the titular bookstore. The bookstore has very few customers, and Clay can’t understand how it stays in business at all. With his free time he starts poking around and discovers that the bookstore is much more than it appears to be on the surface, and he and his friends get caught up in an exciting international secret society.

This really works as an audiobook because it’s so fast-paced. Also, the book’s author makes a cameo in it as the narrator of the audiobook-within-an-audiobook, which is a fun addition.

I agree with the Alex committee; I think this would be a great book for adults and teens alike. (Note: There is some mild adult language, and a glossed-over description of 2 adults in a relationship. Still, if this were a movie, I personally think it would be PG-13.)


Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris

Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris


Here’s a librarian confession: sometimes when I sit at the reference desk, people come up to me and ask me to suggest a funny book. I always say, “Well… have you read anything by David Sedaris?” Sometimes, people have already read everything of his and loved it, and then I suggest similar works. Sometimes, people never never heard of David Sedaris, and then I force them to check out Me Talk Pretty One Day. But every so often, people will say, “Oh… you know, I tried to read something by David Sedaris and I just couldn’t get into it.” I literally don’t know what to say to those people. Not thinking David Sedaris is funny does not compute to me and I have no idea what else to suggest to those people. Like, maybe they think Shakespearean tragedy is hilarious. I just have no way of knowing.

Anyway, obviously, I love David Sedaris’s writing so I knew I wanted to read Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls as soon as I could. I especially love a chance to listen to his books as audio books, because he reads them himself and there’s always a bit of extra humor in his delivery. I was also excited when I heard that the music between essays would be by Andrew Bird, one of my favorite musicians. So, I was primed to love the Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls audiobook, and it did not disappoint.

If you already enjoy Sedaris’s brand of quirky, dark, observational humor, I probably don’t need to say any more about this book. If you’ve never read anything by David Sedaris or heard any of his stories on NPR, this book is as good a place as any to start.

Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls largely consists of the darkly comic essays Sedaris is known for, describing events like shopping for taxidermied owls to give his boyfriend for Valentine’s Day (“’I really think the owl will do it for me today. It’s a Valentine’s Day present—perfect for our new place. A house, actually—no basement, and three stories tall.’ I wasn’t trying to be boastful. I just wanted him to know that I was loved, and that I lived aboveground”) or getting his first colonoscopy. The “Etc” alluded to in the book’s subtitle refers to a series of poems Sedaris wrote about dogs, as well as a set of monologues intended to be performed by high school speech teams. I saw Sedaris speak when he came to Louisville on his book tour, and he told the audience that he’d heard about high school speech students adapting his essays to perform, and he felt skeptical of their ability to condense his work, so he wrote some pieces that would already be within the time limit. Those were all particularly hilarious, and I’d love to hear them performed by high school students. (Maybe a bonus track on his next audiobook?)

(NOTE: this book overall contains adult language that parents might not feel comfortable listening to with children in the car.)

Anyway, I highly recommend this in audio form, or in print. Unless you’re one of those people who doesn’t think David Sedaris is funny, in which case… gosh, I don’t know, maybe try Macbeth?


Audiobooks for Job Seekers

We’ve got some new downloadable audiobooks specifically aimed at people looking for work. Take a look and see if any of them are helpful!

The 250 Job Interview Questions You'll Most LIkely Be AskedThe 250 Job Interview Questions You’ll Most Likely be Asked…and the Answers That Will Get You Hired, by Peter Veruki.

“Why do you want this job?” “Why should I hire you?” “Why do you want to leave your current job?” Do you have convincing answers ready for these important questions? Landing a good job is a competitive process and often the final decision is based on your performance at the interview. By following the advice of prominent career and human resources expert Peter Veruki, you’ll know you have the right answers at your job interview.

48 Days to the Work You Love48 Days to the Work You Love, by Dan Miller.

This book is not so much about finding a new job as it is learning about who we are really called to be in relation to our vocation – whatever shape that career may take in these changing times. According to the author, failing to make that fundamental discovery of calling is why so many people find themselves in jobs they hate. But now, thousands upon thousands are finding the work they love, thanks to practical advice from this leading career counselor.

25 Things to Say to the Interviewer, to Get the Job You Want25 Things to Say to the Interviewer, to Get the Job You Want, by Dexter Hawk.

“If you’re looking for a job that lets you do what you’re good at, pays you what you’re worth, read this book.  And if you want to make your dreams come true, read it over and over again. It takes a lifetime to learn these life lessons. But you don’t have that kind of time. And no one is going to teach them to you. There just aren’t that many good bosses around. Here’s a one-of-a-kind book that’ll teach you how to get past the interviewers.”

Positive LeadershipPositive Leadership: Strategies for Extraordinary Performance, by Kim Cameron.

Positive Leadership shows how to reach beyond ordinary success to achieve extraordinary effectiveness, spectacular results, and what Kim Cameron calls “positively deviant performance” – performance far above the norm. Citing a wide range of research in organizational development and psychology as well as real-world examples, Cameron shows that to go from successful to exceptional, leaders must learn how to create a profoundly positive environment in the workplace.

We’ll be adding more downloadable audiobooks, including ones on career and work-life, in the future. Don’t forget to check our Digital Library often!




Death Comes to Pemberley (audiobook)

Of all the Pride and Prejudice sequels I’ve read (and I’ve read lots of them), Death Comes to Pemberley is one of my favorites. Of course, it’s P.D. James…what’s not to like? James comes up with one of the most credible backstories for Mr. Darcy that I’ve read. It explains a lot about why he is the way he is. She also has the best command of Austen’s style that I’ve seen in quite a while. The story is very like Austen, and at the same time very unlike her. Jane never dwelt on the seamy side of life, and specifically preferrred to leave that to othe writers. I won’t go into the plot too much, other than to say that it’s a perfectly plausible extension of Pride and Prejudice. The disappearance of Lydia Wickham during the major portion of the book seems a little odd. I get the impression that Lydia is James’ least favorite character, so she simply leaves her out.

I have the audio version, which is a little unusual for me. I have problems keeping focused on audiobooks, and frequently lose the plot. This book, however, was an exception. The reader, Rosalyn Landor, was excellent, with a wide range of voices. That and the engaging plot probably helped me stay focused.

This is a book I can heartily recommend to fans of either Jane Austen or P.D. James. For those of us who enjoy both authors, it’s ideal.