Book - 2017
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*One of Amazon's 20 Best Books of 2017*

Named one of the best books of 2017 by NPR, San Francisco Chronicle , Barnes & Noble, and Southern Living

In his much-anticipated new novel, Robin Sloan does for the world of food what he did for the world of books in Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her--feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.

Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she's providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer's market, and a whole new world opens up.

When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?

Leavened by the same infectious intelligence that made Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore such a sensation, while taking on even more satisfying challenges, Sourdough marks the triumphant return of a unique and beloved young writer.

Publisher: New York : MCD / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780374203108
Branch Call Number: SLOAN R
Characteristics: 259 pages ; 22 cm


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Speculative Book Club

7pm, Second Tuesday each month, Meeting Room B Like world-building fantasy? Eerie dystopias? Far-out sci fi? This club is for you! Have no idea what we’re talking about, but want to discuss weird books with cool people? This club is also for you! Speculative Fiction, “an umbrella term for science fiction, fantasy, and several other subgenres of improbably what-ifs” (Karen Lord, 2016), is the… (more)

The Sourdough Next Door

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From Library Staff

2019 Read Across Lawrence selection. This unconventional, funny & magical tale is perfect for all gluten-loving foodies!

LPL_ShirleyB Mar 01, 2019

Meet Robin Sloan March 3, 2019 in Lawrence, Kansas!
This is a highly recommended, fun read! The chapter titled, "The Eater's Archive" is especially brilliant and inspired!

LPL_LeahN Jan 19, 2019

If you read the blurb of this book and think, "Huh? Not my cup of tea..." like I did, then please just trust me, you are wrong. This book is for everyone.

Yes, it's about programming, and sourdough, and robots, and baking, and microbiomes, and trendy east coast markets. It's about so... Read More »

LPL_SarahM Nov 15, 2018

Our 2019 RAL selection will not disappoint. It might make you hungry, make you curious about microbes, have you googling vocabulary in the middle of the night, and find you taking up an interest in baking bread. That's what it did for me, anyway.

LPL_DirectorBrad Jul 26, 2017

You ever read a book and think, this author gets me and writes something that's just what I want to read? That's how I feel about Robin Sloan. I loved his previous book and his latest is equally fabulous. I just want to hang out with him!

Sourdough is a love letter to yeast--and to finding you... Read More »

From the critics

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JCLCharlesH Feb 22, 2021

This speculative fictional exploration of the modern world of food mixes the everyday magic of baking with more unexplainable mystical elements. With clear parallels to the technology that society is growing more reliant upon, Robin Sloan's exploration of the love of creating something with passion and intention offers another path forward for all of us.

Jul 05, 2020

An interesting read! It does make you want to try and bake some sourdough!

CircMary Apr 08, 2020

I’ve just mixed up my first sourdough starter. But what if sourdough could magically change your life? This fun and unusual tale from the author of ”Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hr. Bookstore” combines food and technology in the not-so-distant future. Your relationship with bread will never be the same!

Mar 02, 2020

Love the SF culture included in this book. We've got Silicon Valley meets Alice Waters. It's not traditional sci-fi, but it is imaginative. I like the positive message & how quickly the chapters go by. Highly recommend for reading while traveling.

CCPL_Carly Jan 20, 2020

The author's quirky second novel is as fulfilling and satisfying as a steamy, crusty loaf of sourdough, hot from the oven. Readers will find plenty of geeky humor and may enjoy the references to San Francisco culture.

AndreaG_KCMO Jan 06, 2020

I read this start to finish on a fourteen-hour plane ride when I should have been sleeping: that's how much I liked it. But I'm currently partial to quirky characters, not-quite-but-almost-realistic plot elements, faux technical jargon, and clever narration. Just a really fun yet unpredictable novel.

Dec 10, 2019

I really enjoyed this book.

FPL_AdamL Dec 09, 2019

Robin Sloan is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors! His characters seem to always tap into something very deep about our shared experiences and his stories never fail to reveal something very true about how modern technology intertwines with our past.

Oct 24, 2019


ontherideau Aug 30, 2019

The storyline was the hook, the language was the anchor.
"The man's aspect and the alpaca's were approximately equivalent: wary, not unfriendly, but fundamentally alien." Books about robotics, bread making and alpacas are rare.

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Apr 19, 2019

"The power outlet looked like a little dude, but power outlets always look like little dudes."

(I put down the book and looked for myself ..... yeah, it does. I can see the wide open eyes and the '0' shaped mouth.)

Nov 25, 2017

The house was large and deeply lived in, all the shelves and surfaces stacked with boxes and books, framed pictures, old greeting cards set up like tent cities. If there was a spectrum of spaces defined at one end by my barren apartment, this marked the other extreme. Every single surface told a story. A long one. With digressions.

Nov 25, 2017

Here's a thing I believe about people my age: we are the children of Hogwarts, and more than anything, we just want to be sorted.


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