'Open the book to page 99 and the quality of the whole book will be revealed to you'
Ford Maddox Ford.
I was flicking through a magazine the other day when I came across this quote in an article talking about the 99 page test. Do you know it? The idea is that instead of judging a book by it's cover you read page 99 instead and answer the following questions, does it grip you? And do you want to turn the page?
In the past I've books chosen for their covers (The Gargoyle), the blurb (The 19th Wife), first sentence (Pride and Prejudice), a favourite author (Linda Castillo) or because I loved the tv adaptation (Parade's End) but I've never tried the 99 page test before. I think the problem is I hate reading ahead, it feels like cheating. I've never been a fan of the first line, last line approach and definitely not reading the whole last page.
It did get me thinking about the books I already own though, would they pass the 99 page test? The Swan Thieves (above) has been on my to-read list for at least a year. I chose it for two reasons, I loved the author's previous book (The Historian) and it's lovely matte black fabric cover with gold embossed title. I'm happy to say it also passes the 99 page test and I'll be moving it to the top of the list.
'The next line was crossed out, scratched out viciously, and the rest of the page was blank. I listened in the direction of the kitchen. Through the closed door, I could hear Robert's former wife moving something - a stool dragged across the linoleum, perhaps a cupboard door being opened and shut.'
Yep, sounds good to me.
How about you? How do you choose your books?