12 January 2015

It's Time to 69 My Shelf

I don't know. There's something about the number 69 that throws people off the second they see it somewhere. Well, before your mind wanders off, let's keep in mind: I run a (mostly) YA blog. 'kay? Even if, I uh, used that blog entry title up there.

Recently I came across an article on Epic Reads testing out the effectiveness of John Sutherland's hypothesis, which he talked about in his novel How to Read A Novel: A User's Guide. Basically, he said that in order for you to know if you'll enjoy a particular book, you should flip to the 69th page and read just that. Yep, JUST that page. Why the 69th page? Well, apparently a lot could happen between the 1st and the 69th page and it should be enough to give you a proper glimpse at the plot. If you like what's on page 69, there's a big chance you'll like the rest of the novel.

Photo from 4freephotos
Of course, there are flaws to this technique. In an article on The Guardian, the author tried out the 69 test on a variety of books. He found that:

a. If you land on the start of a chapter, you might get disappointed. Especially if it's the kind of book where the beginning of a chapter only takes up half the page. Fingers crossed this won't happen to me! I don't want to be robbed of my first 69 test experience. I want words! Not blank spaces.

b. If you have different editions of a single book, you naturally won't get the same content. So, you know, you might not like what you see on page 69 of one edition but you might enjoy it in another. This won't be a problem in my case because I only keep duplicates of books I've read and have thoroughly enjoyed. If I went gaga over it, you bet I'll get a different (and often prettier) edition of it. I won't need the test for those anymore.

c. Page count matters. If you're going to do this with a relatively short book, you are most likely going to get to a crucial part of the story and you may end up spoiling yourself. I guess I won't be using this test on most David Levithan books.

Keeping these in mind, I decided to try it out myself since I always have a hard time picking out my next read. I chose two YA books on my shelf that are, on average, just the right length. This way each book is given a fair shot.

First is Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo -- a book I've been meaning to read for a while now but have only purchased a copy last week. Tee hee. Alright. Page 69 reads:

“They screamed. Some dropped their swords; others waved them blindly.
I watched in mingled awe and horror as the Ravkan fighters seized the advantage, cutting down the blinded, helpless men with ease.
The bearded man on top of me muttered something I did not understand. I thought it might be a prayer. He was staring, frozen, at the Darkling, his terror palpable. I took my chance."

The verdict: I am damn lucky I flipped on a page with action and the Darkling. Definitely a go for me.

The second book is Me and Earl and The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. Let's see:

"What if she wanted to get married? So she could have a wedding before dying? I wouldn't be allowed to say no, right? My God, what if she wanted to have sex? Would I even be able to get a boner? I was pretty sure it would be impossible for me to get a boner in those circumstances."

The verdict: HAHA. Crazy getting that on my second try. This book is going to balance out Shadow and Bone perfectly. Love how complete opposites they are.

Was my 69 test successful? Hmm. I don't know. In some way it was because it truly gave me a feel of the book. But I did cheat a bit by choosing books with just the right length and font size so there'd be less chances of getting a dud. Next time, no more picking. I'll do it the way it's supposed to be done. For now though, I'll enjoy the two books this month of January. I won't be ambitious this time around. I know I won't be able to read a lot so for now I'll set my goal to two books. 

How about you? Have you tried the 69 test? Did you like what you read? Or try it out now and share snippets in the comments below!


  1. Oooh, do you think this works on ebooks too? :o I'm gonna go try this with the books I've got but haven't read yet. So coooooool!!!

    Blessie @ Mischievous Reads

  2. This caught my attention last night, so I decided to give it a shot. I had 5 books of varying lengths, various genres, and gave it a go. I was kind of surprised. Pleasantly. With 4 of them, the action that was happening on the 69th page intrigued me off the bat, and the 5th books 69th page was..... rather flat and boring! I think I am going to keep trying this for a bit, and track the results, and see how often this works. It is a very cool theory! Thank you so much for sharing! Have you tried it again?

  3. Oh my. This is such a cool post, Isabel. I'll try this out when picking books to purchase!

    Yani at paperboulevard.blogspot.com