Saturday, 18 October 2014

Some of the language is a little old fashioned, but I still want to read them all!

I'm beginning to wonder if my perfect job isn't the job for me. Don’t get me wrong I love every minute of it, but it hardly pays the bills. It’s my own fault. I spend more time reading than cataloguing but how can I resist when so many beautiful books pass through my hands.  I somehow have to limit the number I read, after all I am supposed to be listing them for sale, not keeping them for my own pleasure.



In How to Read a Novel (Profile Books, 2006), John Sutherland, suggests one trick for intelligent book browsing: turn to page 69 and read it. If you like what you read there, read the whole book. Sutherland in fact credits Marshall McLuhan, guru-author of Guttenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographical Man (University of Toronto Press, 1962) as the originator of this test.


With that in mind, I've picked eight random paragraphs from page 69 of eight books recently catalogued. I've no idea what to expect, but here goes; 

Vintage books from March House Books
Compton Mackenzie The stairs that kept going down (now sold, thank you for your interest); Have you ever had a nightmare when you were being chased through a dark passage by something or somebody, and when your knees kept getting more and more jellified? If you have you will know what William and Winifred were feeling like when they made their way back along the dark bricked passage, trying to run on tip toes and trying not even to breathe too loudly. And this was not a nightmare from which they would wake up, frightened of course, but still in the safety of their own beds. This was real, horribly, hopelessly, hauntingly real.


Capt. W. E. Johns  Biggles in the cruise of the Condor is now sold, thank you for your interest; They strolled a few yards farther on, and suddenly Biggles paused in his stride and nudged Smyth in the ribs. Just beyond the jail was an open yard filled with wooden cases and several piles of dried palm fronds, which were evidently used as packing for the stacks of adobe bricks that stood at the far end of the yard. Biggles eyed it reflectively, and then, followed by Smythe, crossed over to it. A flimsy fence with a gate, which they quickly ascertained was locked, separated the yard from the road. He turned as a car pulled up a short distance away and a man alighted, lit a cigarette, and then disappeared into a private house. Biggles strolled idly towards the car, his eyes running over it swiftly. It was a Ford, and he noted the spare tin of petrol fastened to the running-board. 

Enid Blyton  The Valley of Adventure, now sold thank you for your interest 
They stared up into the trees, amazed to see green leaves waving above them. Then they turned their heads and saw one another. In a flash they remembered everything. “Couldn’t think where I was,” said Jack, and sat up. “Oh, Kiki, it’s you on my middle, is it? Do get off. Here, have some sunflower seeds and keep quiet, or you’ll wake the girls.” He put his hand in his pocket and took out some of the flat seeds that Kiki loved. She flew up to the bough above, cracking two in her beak. The boys began to talk quietly, so as not to disturb the girls, who were still sleeping peacefully.








Patricia Leitch Highland Pony Trek; “To be quite frank with you,” the Colonel said, “I’d rather see my land barred to everyone. It’s high time this maniac was caught and brought to justice. Been going on for a year now. A sheep here and a sheep there. All the time suspicion growing, innocent men being accused and ill feeling all round.” Now sold, thank you for your interest.













Three Jays on Holiday; From Avignon to the University town of Aix en Provence, the children gamely fought a losing battle against going to sleep. Darcy covered the last lap of the journey in record time, as he wanted to see a flying friend of his who lived in Aix and perhaps get him to have dinner with them. Jane, was encouraging his use of a few French words, in fact the four of them had a competition as to who could make the most French sounding sentence.  Three Jays on Holiday is now sold, thank you for your interest.









Vintage books from March House Books

Angela Brazil Three terms at Uplands (now sold, thank you for your interest); Time wore away, and at last came the eventful day when the two male members of the family started for the north. Claire, having waved a farewell to their taxi from the gate, returned to the house feeling decidedly flat. There seemed nothing particular to do. Her own packing was finished. She wandered about during the morning, and after dinner she decided to go and say good-bye to Honor Marshall, a girl who lived in a road near. She found her friend seated in a summer-house in the garden, and began to expatiate upon her own prospects at Uplands. 

Susan Price Ghost dance; The wind had dropped and it was a silent land she skimmed over, but with her shaman’s training she heard every sound there was: the hiss of her skies on the snow, the whining of the wind in the trees and the sharp knock of one branch against another, the sudden scream of a fox. She moved always towards the south, which she knew from the stars. Once, when the stars were covered, she asked the way of a blue fox, calling out, “Elder sister – which way to the city, the Czar’s city in the South?”

Frances Cowen The secret of Grange Farm is now sold, thank you for your interest; Now for the quarry. She stood in the road taking her bearings. It lay, she remembered, due east from the farm but only about ten minutes’ walk through the fields. In fact the quarry was on their land, and, in the old forgotten days, when Napoleon had threatened our shores, the owners of the farm had made quite an income out of it. Nicky had taken her there and helped her down to the old workings, chipped off part of the chalk, and shown her the fossils embedded in it.  She decided to by-pass the farm, and to cross the fields, and so down to the cup-like valley which formed the quarry. Presently she found it so dark that she had to use her torch to find the little track she only just remembered, but, even as she did so, a faint flow showed in the sky as the moon rose slowly beyond scudding clouds.

So there you have it, some of the language is a little old fashioned, but I still want to read them all! How about you, if you’re not convinced, why not try a similar experiment, I would love to hear how you get on…


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Just before I go – do you remember the Lottie Holiday Adventure StoryWriting Competition as featured on my blog in August?  Four-year-old  Evie from Perth, Western Australia wrote a quirky and adventurous tale about the discovery of a T-Rex dinosaur bone. The story was selected ahead of other entrants from countries including the USA, UK, Australia and UAE, and wins Evie a selection of ten books from the Lottie Pinterest folder ‘Great Books for Girls’ (that boys can read too!), in addition to exclusive new Lottie products before they hit the shelves.  Well done Evie!




One last thing, while I was looking around the Internet for clues about how others decide on their next read I came across this little pearl of wisdom written by Nancy Pearl (sorry I couldn’t resist the pun!) – “One of my strongest beliefs is that no one should ever finish a book they’re not enjoying. Reading should be a joy. So, you can all apply my Rule of Fifty to your reading list. Give a book fifty pages if you’re under fifty years old. If you don’t like it, give it away, return it, whatever and then read something else. If you’re over fifty, subtract your age from 100 and that’s how many pages you should read …"
You know what that means, right? When you turn one hundred, you can judge a book by its cover.


46 comments:

  1. I have never heard of the flip to page 69 rule- but I loved reading the excerpts and it makes sense. I have always read the first page or two, but jumping right in the middle of the book will give readers a better idea of what they are in for. :)

    In the past ten years or so I have finally stopped reading a book if I didn't like it. I do follow the 50 page rule for that. I had to smile when I read that when we are 100 we can judge a book by its cover. :)

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    1. Hi Stephanie, I hadn't heard of it either, but I think it really works. Using the 100 year rule I only need to read 34 pages before abandoning a book, the trouble is I find it hard to do. I keep thinking it must get better but it very rarely does. Barbara.

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  2. Now THIS, has been a delightful read for me dearest Barbara, because I find it fascinating to discover how others decide how long they will give a book a chance. I remember one year during my French studies in college. We were given a text by a Moroccan author, and we needed to read it and write an essay on it. I did not like the story, but I found a way to get through the book. I imagined (for I am not sure if this was the author's intention) that he used certain imagery or lack thereof, to pull the reader into the world of the principal character, who led a life of empty desperation. When I finished the book, I made my speculations in the best possible essay and I ended up giving my own take on the reading....sometimes we are forced to read material that is a drudge....but now, I am free to read what I LIKE, and I have even learned to give a book a few more pages beyond my age to see if there is a world there I can discover!

    Oh, HAVE FUN!

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    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post Anita. I also remember ‘having’ to read books but thank goodness those days are past, but I am guilty of trying to finish books, even if I really don’t like them.
      It’s a glorious sunny October day in the UK. I hope the sun is shining for you too. xx

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  3. I have never heard of the 69 rule, either, and I usually know within twenty pages whether I'll read it or not. I remember the three by Enid Blyton and the Biggles. I loved those from page one. Good choice. Now I'm off to my new novel to read page 69. My fingers are trembling already.

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    1. I don’t think you have anything to worry about Roger! Page 69 of Kongomato is excellent, and I’m sure it will be the same for your new novel.

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  4. We will never be able to read every book so we should only read what we enjoy. I was asked once to join a book club, it didn't last long. I couldn't stand being told what to read.

    Jean
    x

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    1. Hi Jean, thanks for making me smile. I’ve often though about joining a book club but worry I might not keep up with all the fast readers – I like to take my time and enjoy it. I hadn't thought about being told what to read, but you're quite right – I can’t see any pleasure in that! Barbara x

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  5. With me it's a 50/50 chance on whether I'll continue to read or not. On the one hand, I think it's best to put it down if it isn't enjoyable. In such cases, I'll just grab a different book. On the other hand, I've read books before that weren't so great until the further I got into it. Some stories can just start out weak. (I used to write, and it still kills me that the first chapter to my last book is just such a case. I've tried remedying it so many times). Of course, sometimes OCD kicks in and I simply HAVE to finish the nightmarish book. Luckily, I can usually walk away.

    I love your blog by the way. I can so completely understand the love for a good book cover alone!

    I miss reading. I have so many books in my TBR pile, but for the past couple years reading has been giving me migraines.

    In my next life I insist on being a children's illustrator. :p

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    1. Hi Kristin, I really feel for you with the migraines. I get them from time to time, and reading is pretty much impossible while they last. I have a friend who has to go to bed for several days if she gets one, I’m lucky because when I get one it usually only last for a few hours. Do you listen to talking books? My dad did that when his eyesight started to go.
      I love your blog too and am really glad I found it.
      I would love to be a children’s illustrator – the problem is I’m not a bit talented, but as you say, maybe next time. Thanks for calling in, Barbara. x

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  6. I have often wondered how you get any work done with so many treasures to read every day!! I will have to start applying the rule of 69 and rule of 50 to my own reading!!

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    1. Hi Teressa, that’s just the problem – I don’t! I’m having far too much fun reading and blogging. I just need to win the lottery, and the problem will be solved. All reading & fun and no work, perfect! Thanks for your visit, Barbara.

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  7. Your chosen books all have a cozy nostalgic feel to them. I usually have trouble stopping a book and instead struggle through to the end, but it does make sense to move on to other more compelling reads. Thanks for the page 69 idea, I'll try it!

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    1. It can’t do any harm Marcia, and it just might give you time to read the things you do like. Thanks for calling in, Barbara.

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  8. I loved reading these excerpts. I immediately read page 69 in each of my books and was pleased to find they were interesting. As a writer, it is important to know this rule! I also liked the Rule of 50. I am bad for struggling through books I don't actually like. Maybe I will try that. I think you have the perfect job!

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    1. Hi Darlene, it just proves how good your books are. I’ve only read one of them, but I found it most enjoyable. I will have to go and have a look at page 69. Barbara.

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  9. Oh, how exciting! I would want to read all of these, old fashioned or not! I love vintage and these books look great! :)

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    1. Hi Linda, the experiment didn’t work for me because now I want to read them all. I’m not sure how I will ever get past being a reader rather than a business woman! :-)

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  10. Thanks for sharing these with us. What fun to read the page of each. I would definitely have the same problem you have of wanting to read all the old books that came my way, but I am definitely going to give the page 69 idea a try. It's a good way to present some of the books I read each week and don't review. I love reading Angela Brazil, the Biggles books, Worrals, too.

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    1. Hello Alex, I agree with you re Angela Brazil and Biggles. I only started reading the Biggles books recently, but I’m really enjoying them. I don’t have any Worrals at the moment but if any come in I’m sure to read them!

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  11. I think the page 69 idea gives you a much better idea of the back cover blurb. Back cover blurbs seem to sound increasingly similar these days. I'm not keen on novels written in the present tense, for example, so always try to avoid those. Super to see the "Adventure" series covers, and as you can imagine, the Biggles excerpt was a particular treat for me!

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    1. Hi Sue, I can’t think of Biggles without thinking of you now! Your photograph of the Biggles book and all the bits and pieces always comes to mind. Thanks for calling in, Barbara

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  12. How CUTE that a 4-year-old won the contest!!! The covers of those Enid Blyton books remind me of the covers of the Nancy Drew books I read as a child.

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    1. Hi Stephanie, I didn’t know about Nancy Drew when I was a child, I was probably far too busy reading anything and everything by Enid Blyton. I wish I had discovered them though as I always feel I’ve missed out.

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  13. I have some Enid Blyton books which I have managed to find from charity shops etc. The first Adventure book was The Island which I read but was actually read to us in school in a quiet period many years ago. We had moved into a new school and it had corridors in an E shape and the classrooms were in the short legs of the E. As it was a local school we used to run around it when it was being built. I remember going in and seeing the corridors before the floors were put in. When I read and when the teacher read, I had it in my head the unfinished corridors of the school when reading about the underground passageways in The Island. Some things just stick in your mind. I'm not sure if I've read The Valley though.

    Loved the Pat Smythe books and any pony books. Thanks for taking me back there.

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    1. Hello Anne Marie, What a lovely memory thank you so much for sharing it. I loved all the adventure books and even had a go at writing something similar when I was about twelve. My story was full of underground caves, passageways, smugglers, dognappers - you know the kind of thing. Mum threw it in the bin after I left home, and it was probably the best place for it! :-)

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  14. Absolutely gorgeous Stuart Tresilian dustjackets on those Adventure Series books, I am jealous! I have all 8 of the Macmillan editions already but no dustjackets.

    Next time I'm trying to decide if I want to get a book or not I will try to remember to turn to page 69 to see if that helps. I often open it up and read a random page anyway, but there might be some magic or science behind page 69.

    I've also got Secret of Grange Farm which is a good read (I bought it because I already had The Secret of the Loch by the same author (so I didn't need to check any inside pages before I bought!)

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    1. Hello Fiona, thanks very much for your visit. I agree about the Tresilian dust jackets. They are absolutely beautiful. I’ve not read Secret of Grange Farm but having read page 69, I'm really tempted to read the rest. The trouble is I’m supposed to be listing them for sale, but it’s hard when you love books as much as I do. Barbara

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  15. Although I never used that rule however, I usually read a couple of pages from the middle of the book to find out if it will hold my interest.
    Oh I love those adventure books and Barbara I don't blame you for wanting to read every book that passes through your hands as they are just wonderful books.
    Congratulations to Evie! Well done indeed.

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    1. Hi Shashi, I always read the blurb on the back and then the first page but in future I’m going to start with page 69. I think it really works!
      Little Evie did so well, her writing is beautiful.
      It was nice to chat with you today, thanks for calling in. Barbara.

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  16. I always think a good story is a good story no matter what and The Stairs That Kept Going Down sound like a good story to me.

    Whilst I've never heard of this particular 'rule' I do know lots of readers who use the 100 page rule. For myself once I have begun a book I have to finish it. Partly I'm stubborn but I've also read plenty of books where nothing has happened before page 100 and I've been glad to have read on only to find the story got so much better.

    Well done Evie, what an achievement at such a tender age.

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    1. Hello Tracy, the stairs that kept going down is a good story – I can vouch for that because I keep reading a bit more every time I get a spare moment!

      I’m sure you’re right about reading past page 100 in case it gets better, the trouble is I don’t think I will ever find the time to read everything on my tbr list if I don’t apply some kind of ‘rule’ and I guess this one is as good as any.

      Thanks for your visit, Barbara

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  17. Exciting, I never find books old...I just start reading them all over again.

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    1. That’s a very sensible statement Kelly, and I have to say I agree with you. I always hate coming to the end of something I love and quite often start over again. No wonder my tbr pile never gets any less

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  18. I am going try that page 69 trick next time I am at the bookstore.

    Thanks for the sweet words on blog. I was looking at the sweet picture in your sidebar of kids looking through the bookstore window. Wouldn't a mural be beautiful in a children's book store!

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    1. What a brilliant idea, now all I need is the book store to put it in :-)

      I hope your week is going well, Barbara.

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  19. Oooh! So many wonderful Enid Blyton books. I stopped collecting mine when the designated book-case was full. The collection was meant for Amber, and she's meant to take them with her when she leaves home, but perhaps we'll wait until after uni, when she has her own house.

    I have a rule of my own with novels, I simply read the first page, and if I'm captivated enough to want to turn to page two, I buy it. I'll have to try the page 69 thing too.

    Have a wonderful evening Barbara x

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    1. Oh lucky Amber, how nice to have a collection all ready and waiting to go in her first home. My shelves are all full too, but I’ve managed to squeeze in my Enid Blyton collection. They have pride of place on the bookshelves in the sitting room. It’s surprising the number of people who comment on them.

      I always read the first page and the blurb, but now I’m going to ignore the blurb and go straight to page 69.

      Have a great rest of the week, Barbara x

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  20. I love the books you choose, Barbara. And as for the 69 rule - I have to admit that I rushed to my novel to try it out - and yes, it contained an important part of the plot! Not sure I would have admitted it otherwise! Meanwhile I have been reading the New Story Budget for Little Folk from your shop. Can't wait to try it out on my almost-five-year-old granddaughter! x

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    1. Hi Marilyn, I’m sure you aren’t the first person to try out the rule of 69 on their own work! I’ve just ordered a copy of your book and am really looking forward to its arrival. I intended to get it when I went into town this morning and then forgot all about it.
      I hope you are enjoying the New Story Budget, I though it was a sweet little book. You must let me know what your granddaughter thinks. xx

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  21. These look amazing! Of course anything with ponies gets my attention! Never heard of the 69 rule, actually that's a great tip! I look at my shop as more of a pass-time and hobby, but it's fun and I love getting a chance to see all the books and goodies before I sell them. ~ Diane

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    1. Hi Diane, I love my website and blog, but it quickly went from being a hobby to a full-time job when I gave up my 'proper' work. I love it but sometimes think it would be nice to go back to being a collector who sells the occasional thing. My problem is I hate parting with anything! I would be just the same with all the pretty things you sell. I would want to squirrel them all away. Barbara x

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  22. Oh my God, I've been doing it the wrong way this whole time ~ judging books by their cover when I was a toddler and all. I like the Pg 69 rule. I'm going to give it a try. Three Terms at Upland sounds good. As for the Enid Blyton books, their covers are gorgeous. :)

    Congrats to little Evie for winning those books! And happy weekends, Barbara!

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    1. Oh Claudine, you do make me smile! I’ve always judged books by the cover, first page, and blurb, now I’m checking page 69 as well! It would be a bit of a conundrum to love the cover & the first page but not page 69 – then what? :-)

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  23. Lol.. loved your last line ..as I was doing it from age 4 :D
    Congrats and wishes to little Evie :)
    And page 69 or 29 .. I am loving ALL the books you have posted about. As for the language .. warm welcome to the old fashioned .
    Loved the cover of the 'Highland pony Trek'
    Thanks for the wealth of books you share and posts Barbara.its amazing and inspiring in many ways :)

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    1. Thank you kokila, you always brighten my day with your lovely comments. I like the rule of 100 it’s not long before I can s using it!!! OK, it’s a few years yet, but I sincerely hope I make it as I need all that time to read everything in my tbr pile. hehe

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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