Friday 2 May 2008

The page 40 test - a lame segue

I don't know if this can properly be called a superstition but I have a habit (courtesy of my dad, courtesy of a friend of his) of deciding whether or not to read a book based on how good page 40 is. (If page 40 is blank, then I go to the first text-ful (texty?) page thereafter.)

This practice has generally been sort of eerily accurate in predicting good books, with a few notable exceptions like Nikos Kanzantzakis's The Fratricides (and that was left unfinished before Kazantzakis died, so maybe if he'd had a chance to edit the novel, the whole thing would have lived up to page 40's promise.)

Of course, there's no telling how many good books I've missed out on because page 40 just happened to be not great, but I guess I've got to have some way of narrowing down what I read (besides generally scorning certain types of books I (perhaps unfairly) consider too much geared towards the great unwashed).

Anyway, I bring this test of mine up as a not very smooth segue into announcing a new feature I'll soon be launching on Bookphilia. com. For awhile now I've been thinking about how to bring other readers into the mix, and what I've come up with is an occasional feature I've decided to call The Reading Lamp; this will simply comprise interviews with other readers and photos of them with their current book. (FYI: this unsmooth and perhaps entirely unconvincing segue is based on the fact that one of the interview questions I've settled on is "Do you have any reading superstitions?")

Once I actually get a new camera I'll start posting these spotlights on other readers periodically and I'll be interested to see what y'all think. I suspect 99% of these interviews will be with people I know and guilt into it (as much as I'd just like to buttonhole people I see reading on public transit), but if you'd like to be featured this way, drop me an email at "colleen at bookphilia dot com" and we can discuss how to make it happen. Cheers!


Unknown said...

Colleen your grandpa must have been on to something with this page 40 thing. When I read this idea I grabbed my novel off the shelf to see if my page 40 was up to snuff. Now I'm all full of writer's insecurity! From Dining with Death, chapter 3 Angels in the Snow opening para: page 41 cuz 40 is blank!!!

It had been two months since James McSorley had dies, yet the Stiff with the Stiffy jokes persisted. Zophia didn't mean to speak ill of the dead; seh was merely curious. "If he had rigor mortis would they have to break it off to get it closed? The lid I mean, not the penis." She reorganized the cards in her hand, sighing. "I wish I'd know sooner he was gay..."

Kathleen Molloy

Bookphilia said...


I'd say page 40 (or in this case, page 41) passes muster - I laughed out loud when I read it.

Is your book only for sale on your site? I checked Amazon, etc but had no luck.