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The Page 69 Test – what’s on yours?

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Article by Hazel Gaynor © 31 March 2014.
Posted in Guest Blogs ().

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I often judge a book by its cover (although, clearly, I know that I shouldn’t), but there is another school of thought about how to determine whether a book is for you – or not.

In his book HOW TO READ A NOVEL, John Sutherland suggests that readers should apply the page 69 test.  He argues that, “Dust jackets, blurbs, shoutlines, critics’ commendations (“quote whores”, as they are called in the video/DVD business) all jostle for the browser’s attention.” Instead, he recommends applying the McLuhan (or, page 69, test). “Marshall McLuhan, the guru of The Gutenberg Galaxy(1962), recommends that the browser turn to page 69 of any book and read it. If you like that page, buy the book. It works.”

OK.

On that premise, I was invited by Marshal Zeringue from the Campaign for the American Reader to apply the page 69 test to THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME. The results are here. As it turns out, page 69 is very reflective of the entire novel. Phew, to that!

Having done this for THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, it struck me that this could be a very interesting exercise to apply to a WIP – and I’ll certainly have my eye on page 69 in the future.

Why not give it a try? What’s on your page 69?

 


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Hazel Gaynor is the acclaimed New York Times, USA Today and internationally bestselling author of five novels. Her 2014 debut, THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, won the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award and THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY was shortlisted for the 2016 Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. She was also selected as a WHSmith Fresh Talent title in 2015. In 2018, Hazel will release her sixth historical novel, THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER'S DAUGHTER, inspired by the true story of Victorian heroine, Grace Darling. Hazel's books have been translated into eight languages and are published in 15 countries to date. She lives in Ireland with her husband and two children and is represented by Michelle Brower of Aevitas Creative, New York. For more information, visit www.hazelgaynor.com

3 comments so far

  • Thanks for that tip Hazel ,I must try that today as I am in town
    Tom

  • Pingback: How do you choose your next read? | Green-Fingered Writer

  • As I am sure you know, The Gutenberg galaxy is made up of a mosaic of short chapters, typically two pages, each preceded by a gloss of a dozen words or so.

    The chapter which starts on p69 has this gloss: “The Gutenberg Galaxy is concerned to show why alphabetic man was disposed to descralize his mode of being”.

    It’s the only gloss in the book which refers to the book itself and therefore must have been put there deliberately in order to satisfy the p69 test!

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