There is apparently a French literary prize for the best page 112 (which has its origins in a Woody Allen film) with the idea being that just one page can reveal whether a book is going to be any good.
Click here to read the article from The Guardian.
This all depends on what edition or imprint you use. Hardbacks will differ from paperbacks. Doesn't work too well with e-readers as page 112 will not be the same for everyone and will vary according to your device, the size of your font and whether you prefer to hold it vertically or horizontally, but could still be a useful tool in deciding what to read.
Here are some random paragraphs on page 112's from six paperbacks - old, brand-new, fiction, non-fiction - that are sitting in my current TBR pile.
See if you can guess what the book might be about from these brief extracts and whether you would want to read the whole thing? It is quite amazing how much information can be garnered from just a handful of words.
(1) "Excuse me." Emily curtsied to Mr. and Mrs. Westbury. Her father had allowed them to think Jean Jacques was a slave? He had not told them he was his son and she suddenly had to get away from them all.
(2) I waved once, a small wave, more a signal than a good-bye. He waved back and I saw him smile. And then, as the ship slid from the wharf and was pulled by tugs into the Whangpoo, we simply stood staring at each from a greater and greater distance, until ...
(3) We went down to the boat at once and set sail for the Great Blasket. We didn't shift the provisions for the Inish out of the boat, for Diarmid had planned to go back with them, take some hunting tackle with us, and bring a fine load of rabbits with us on our return.
(4) Stale smoke and the scent of good bourbon hung in the air from the all-night party that had ended a couple hours earlier. The dining car was empty except for Clark Gable, who was sitting in the same booth in the same clothes he had worn the day before.
(5) For all the gaiety of his costume and the apparent ease of his manner, Pushkin knew he was being watched, and when he revisted Mikhaylovskoe ten years later spoke of his own sense of that surveillance.
(6) I wrote in a diary once, I think when I was about twelve or thirteen, that I was going to be an adventurer like Allan Quatermain or Indiana Jones.
Books with links to Amazon.co.uk.
(1) Reap the Whirlwind (the Gone with the Wind of South Africa), Luanshya Greer
(2) The Distant Land of my Father, Bo Caldwell.
(3) The Islandman, Tomas O'Crohan
(4) All the Stars in the Heavens, Adriana Trigiani
(5) Pushkin, a Biography, Elaine Feinstein
(6) My Life in Ruins. From Petra to Glenrowan, my Adventurers in Archaeology, Adam Ford
PS Among other things, 112 is also the emergency phone number in the European Union, the number of lbs in a cwt, and the name of a rock band.