Malden Reads, a community reading program, announced it’s book selection for 2015 as Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Solan. The Great Recession has led Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone and into a night-time shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore.
After a few days of working, Clay begins to notice something strange: only a few customers come into the store repeatedly, but never actually buy anything, instead “checking out” obscure volumes located at the back corners of the store. Curious, Clay gathers a group of his talented friends to investigate and analyze his clients’ behaviors, coming to discover the secrets of the store -- and Mr. Penumbra -- that unfold through his investigation extend far beyond bookstore’s walls to something greater.
According to Roxane Gay from the New York Times in his Sunday Book Review, Solan “dexterously tackles the intersection between old technologies and new with a novel that is part love letter to books, part technological meditation, part thrilling adventure, part requiem.”
In conjunction with the book, the reading program includes book discussions, film series, and other social activities that welcomes all ages and backgrounds to explore the ideas pulled from the novel, such as the power possessed by both technology and books.
One of the events held was a presentation: “Malden High in the Digital Age” held at the high school, featuring the Google chromebooks initiative, which permits students to access information at the tips of their fingers by giving out chromebooks for them to use; the Tufts Makerspace; the Robotics Club, a club where students work together to build, design and create robots to enter into tournaments; the Blue and Gold Archive project, a project aimed to produce 3,000 copies of a full, color 64-page magazine with archives and old newspapers dated as far back as 1915, and more.
Many of the groups that presented showed great insight on the technologies Malden high is utilizing, as well as prompt reflection on how “our devices and gadgets hold an illimitable dominion over us.” (Roxane Gay, New York Times, Sunday Book Review)