Sourdough by Robin Sloan | Book Review

Sourdough by Robin Sloan book cover

Sourdough tells the story of Lois Clary, an overworked robotics software engineer whose sanity is saved by sourdough and spicy soup provided by a local sandwich shop. When the owners of the sandwich shop decide to leave the country, they offer Lois the starter of their delicious bread so that she can make her own. She soon embarks on a bizarre new career path, blending robotics with baking in a strange new food market, while attempting to understand why the microorganisms in her sourdough starter seem to have a mind of their own.

I picked up Sourdough because I loved Robin Sloan’s debut novel Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore which combined technology with a touch of fantasy. Sourdough does a lot of the same, but it also involves food which is a-ok in my book.

It’s a pretty cosy read – I whipped through it over the course of two days, hooked by the cheerful storyline and the weirdness of the sourdough starter. Protagonist Lois is really likeable; she’s smart, hardworking, and curious, which leads her naturally down the path of robot-engineering-baker and made me fully invested in her adventure.

Most of the other characters are affable nerdy foodies or nerdy programmers, and even the ‘villains’ of the tale are pleasant. There’s not a lot of conflict or drama or even all that much tension, but that didn’t bother me. It’s a light, fun, friendly book – perfect company for a tranquil autumn weekend.

One warning, though – this book will make you want to either:

  • Gorge on freshly baked sourdough
  • Quit your day job and start your own bakery

I didn’t give in to either of these urges, but I still want to.

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