12 Books with Great First Lines

12 books with great first lines

Well, we talked about some of our favourite last lines, so it only makes sense that we talk about our favourite first lines. I don’t think enough people — readers and writers alike — take the time to really appreciate how a great first time can really pull you in. I think we often get stuck on the “typical” opening devices like waking up from a dream or the moment someone dies. Sometimes it’s something simple like “Call me Ishmael.” in Moby Dick.

Remember, I didn’t just pluck these out of thin air. I’m only going to include books I’ve read on this list. If I haven’t read it, I won’t include it even if I know a book has a famous last line.

Pride and Prejudice
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
“Mother died today.”
“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”
“This is my favourite book in all the world, though I have never read it.”
“All children, except one, grow up.”
“In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit.”
“Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were. “
“When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I only had two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”

“The circus arrives without warning.”
“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”
“Tap-dancing child abuser. That’s what The Sunday New York Times from March 8, 1993, had called Vivi.”
“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.”

What are some of your favourite first lines from books?

samantha

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