"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, August 31, 2009

Favorite First Lines of Good Books

You’ve heard the adage: don’t judge a book by its cover, but how about by its first line? I’m not sure if I am always that aware of the first lines in books. If I really like the book then I might go back and check out the first line so see if it was a grabber or not. Based on my own experience I’m guessing that selection of favorite first lines is often a fairly subjective decision based on the whole book. But perhaps learning about good first lines can entice a person to pick up and read a book. Listed below is a list of a few of my favorite first lines in books. My hope is that you have some favorite first lines that you can share with me. Join in the discussion. Name the book, author, and quote the first line.
First Line
Anderson, M.T.
"We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck."
Dickens, Charles
David Copperfield
"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show."
Didion, Joan
The Year of Magical Thinking
Life changes fast. Life changes in an instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you knew it ends.
du Maurier, Daphne
"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again."
Eugenides, Jeffrey
"I was born twice: first as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petosky, Michigan, in August of 1974."
Follett, Ken
The Key to Rebecca
"The last camel collapsed at noon."
Gaiman, Neil
Anansai Boys
"It begins, as most things begin, with a song."
Lewis, C.S.
Voyage of the Dawn Treader
"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."
Peck, Richard
The Teacher's Funeral
"If a teacher has to die, August isn't a bad time of the year for it."
Roach, Mary
Stiff: Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
"The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of the time is spent lying on your back."
Tolstoy, Leo
Anna Karenina
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
Yee, Lisa
Millicent Min, Girl Genius
"I've been accused of being anal retentive, an over-achiever, and a compulsive perfectionist, like those are bad things."
P.S. By clicking on the picture at the top of this post you will be linked to a game called Famous First Lines.



  1. I totally forgot to include the first line from my favorite book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen-
    "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

  2. The book I am currently reading, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, has a great first line: "My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted."

    I know it sounds morbid but doesn't it make you wonder why she counted?

  3. The first one that popped into my head was from Pride and Prejudice; I'm glad you added it.

    This one isn't exactly a favorite, per se, but I still remember getting the chills when I read it:
    "My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973" (The Lovely Bones-Alice Sebold)

    I'm for sure going to use this in Creative Writing--thanks!

  4. I'll pull together a lesson plan which uses these lines and some library books so that the students can really compare some good and some not-so-good first lines. It should be fun.

  5. According to Kristin K. the lesson plan on First Lines went well and one student even came to the library to check out two of the books used for the lesson. If you are an educator and want a copy of this lesson plan, feel free to contact me via e-mail and I'll be happy to share.


I look forward to your comments and interactions! Join in the conversation.