Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Page 69 Challenge - Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore

  • Release Date: October 2, 2012
  • Pages: 304 Pages
  • Genre: Adult Fiction
  • Publisher: Farrar, Staruss and Giroux (MacMillian)

I  discovered the page 69 theory from the Books on The Night Stand podcast, but I guess it's been circulating the bookternet for while. The theory states that the litmus test for if you will like a book can be found by reading page 69. 

Well, challenge accepted.

I picked five random library books, read page 69 and chose one to read based soley on how much I liked that page. I went mostly toward adult books, because I tended to know less about them. The books I read from were:

A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Haplin
The Dead Run by Adam Mansbach
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Any Resemblance To Actual Persons by Kevin Allerdice

I ultimately choose Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore. Page 69 of this novel is the beginning of a chapter and is actually really indicative of the book. In  the scene, our protagonist Clay is going on a date with the love interest, Kat, through his Mac book because he can't leave the bookstore. One thing I picked up on was a reference to an XKCD comic on Kat's nightsand. I regularly read this webcomic and know it tends to be about millennials, technology and programming  which in the end completely fits this book's worldview and themes.  

I really enjoyed this novel, it's an interesting look at the collision between old and new technology. Clay Jansen is a recent art school graduate in Silicon Valley, working at a cutting edge bagel startup when  it goes under and he is laid off. Desperate for work he takes a job as a night clerk at Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore where he encounters the clandestine patrons who are wrapped up in secrecy and working on  centuries old mission.

 Sloane's writing style is so easy to get lost in. Clay's first person narration is witty and present with an almost stream of consciousness feel to it. It was so easy to get lost in and it was fun to observe this new world and experience he is thrown into.

This book also does some interesting things with Google, it turns the company into this almost mythical place. Clay's love interest Kat is a programmer at Google and at one point he goes to Google to visit her. While I think some of the things he describes about the company are real, I can't find any proof that they have special nutrients in the employees food or that there are massive Legos on the front lawn that house every YouTube video and e-mail in the world.

An interesting fact about this novel, it was originally a short story which Sloane shares for free here (but it spoils the book, kind of) it's cool to see what Sloane added and what he changed. This short story version particularly takes the Google satire to an extreme as in this version the Google campus is just a giant crystal.

In the end, I think there may just be some truth in this Page 69 challenge, it seemed to work fairly well in this novel, so  now I think I'm ready for Round 2 !


  1. I love that you tried this test - I've been wanting to do it since I heard about it on the podcast, too! I enjoyed this one, too. I preferred the beginning, with the actual bookstore, to the end where it got more technology-focused...but it was still fun!

  2. I've never heard of the 69 page challenge, but consider it accepted. Seriously, though, I wonder why they chose 69? Part of me is truly tempted to believe that they just randomly chose that number, but I'm not always a big believer in human nature as being trustworthy ;)

    Sounds like an interesting book. I'm going to pick up my next book and do the litmus test. I'll let you know what I think!

  3. This is such a great challenge! And very helpful for those whose TbR pile is on the verge of toppling into a holy mess. Lol.

    Anyway, I've read Mr. Penumbra last year and have loved it tremendously. I'm glad you liked it as well, Kat.

  4. I'm just getting in to BOTNS and I really like it. They are so knowledgeable !

    I agree with you, the beginning stuff was much better than the ending, I got really confused towards the end.

  5. Yeah, I have no idea how the number 69 was chosen...apparently it's from a book about how to be a better reader that came out in 2006, but I didn't dig to much into it.

  6. Lol, my TBR pile is such a toppling mess it's not even funny.

  7. I'm a Books On The Night Stand fan as well, but I've never tried this. It worked for you so i think I'll give it a try. I have so many books to get through this spring that this might help!


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