It's Friday, January 13.
In honor of this suspicious day, Word Nerd is reading Nathaniel Lachenmeyer's 13: The Story of the World's Most Popular Superstition. For the record, Word Nerd is neither a triskaidekaphobe or a triskaidekaphile.
From the start, Lachenmeyer digs for the origins of the 13 superstition. "The two main contenders," he writes, "other than 13 at a table, are the general belief that 13 is an unlucky number and the belief that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day." Lachenmeyer claims that the fear of Friday the 13th is the most common 13 superstition today.
The specific Friday the 13th superstition, Lachenmeyer traces back to The New York Times. Sometime between 1906 and 1906, The Times left out a comma, turning "Friday, the 13th," into "Friday the 13th" Lachenmeyer says this dropped comma was not a typographical error.
Lachenmeyer cleverly debates the superstitions about the number 13 in, of course, 13 chapters.