Big Mac to go
Marshall McLuhan once wrote that you should never judge a book by its cover, but instead turn to page 69 and judge the book from there instead. If you like what you see, you go ahead and buy it.
Now, thanks to John Sutherland’s recent revival of the page 69 test in his How to Read a Novel: a User’s Guide, the idea seems to have a new life of its own. Even more recently, a blog has been dedicated to the test with dozens of readers uploading sections and synopses of various books (you can get a rough idea of how it works by reading this review of the page 69 of The Ancestors Tale by Richard Dawkins). Now, the list at the moment is dominated by relatively unknown American authors. But I wonder how great works of literature would fair under the test? Would you be more or less inclined to read Joyce or Proust or Tolstoy by reading page 69 first?