Thursday, October 1, 2015

Inspired By Reading Book Club: Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore


This month I again took part in Andrew Thornton's Inspired By Reading Book Group.  Each month a group of artists (mostly jewelry designers), including my wife Sj of Sj Designs Jewelry, read a book and then do something "arty" inspired by the book.  I took part last month with some of my photos and based on Sj's excitement over this book I decided to try again.  Check out the rest of this month's entries at Andrew's blog HERE.



The book is Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.  Published in 2012 this one made it to the New York Times Bestseller list.  The main character, Clay, is a somewhat nerdy young man who ends up almost randomly working for a strange 24 hour bookstore in San Francisco.  With a history of growing up playing the equivalent of D&D and reading sci-fi/fantasy novels, the character hits close to home for me!

Throughout the book we discover that something more complex than book-buying is going on at this strangest of bookstores.  We eventually discover that (like a nerdier version of something by Dan Brown), there is an ancient society of bibliophiles all secretly trying to learn the secrets of life.

The cast of characters is really what makes this book fun to read for me.  Quirky, slightly odd-ball, without being caricatures, the people are all somewhat believable.  I was struck by the description of Clay's room mate Matt--"He works with crazy intensity, feeding hours like dry twigs into the fire, just absolutely consuming them, burning them up.  He sleeps lightly and briefly, often sitting up straight in a chair or lying pharaoh-like on the couch.  He's like a storybook spirit, a little djinn or something, except instead of air or water his element is imagination."  Now that is a description!  And even better, it seems to describe our very own Andrew Thornton adequately as well!

This book touches a lot on the difference between books and Internet/computer/tablets.  The parallels and discrepancies are scattered through-out the pages.  However the book itself isn't truly about books.  I think it's real focus on being human and what we want or expect out of life--and how we go about it.  While the story is mostly light and fantastical, this book's under-text is also deeper, leaving one with a new appreciation for friends and family.  I liked this one a lot!




Here's my entry for "art" this month!  I took some of my fancier leather-bound books and placed them into an area where they would get more light.  I used my plain leather mead journal (far right) for this shot as well.  In post production I added Aldus Manutius' name to the binding.  I also took a macro shot of the book-hands symbol from the intro page of Mr. Penumbra and then added that into my shot.  Then I did an emboss filter to those to make it look like the writing was printed into the leather.  Not stopping there, I added a painterly effect to make this a little more dreamy and unusual...

5 comments:

Ann Schroeder said...

While I was looking at your picture before I finished reading the description, I thought, "Where did he GET that!??" Nice work.

Marie D'Onofrio said...

I thought the same thing! Wonderfully evocative photo.

Andrew Thornton said...

I had to chuckle when you compared me to Clay's roommate. The dry twig hours are about to burst into a bonfire!!! Thanks so much for participating again! I always love seeing what non-jewelry things are made. The photo is really mysterious. At first I thought you were doing the old/new thing with the Google colors, but then after bouncing back and forth, I realized that the colors were a little different. I did enjoy the fact that you digitally manufactured a book with an authentic feel, just as they attempted to manufacture a book in the novel. Does your picture smell like coffee? ;-) Thanks again for participating! I hope you'll play along for next month. I think it'll be up your alley!

Mary K McGraw said...

I like the richness of your photograph, making me want to touch and feel each book in the picture. Plus I like how you digitally altered the photo.

Sarajo Wentling said...

I love the way this one turned out. Even though you showed it to me on the computer when you were editing it, I totally didn't notice the open book and hands until I read your post. I'm still giggling about the comparison of Andrew and Matt! Lol.