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Reading Is Sexy: Best First Lines

Let’s get (word)nerdy up in here!

I love the Guardian’s collection of the 10 best first lines in fiction — and not just because Jane Eyre shows up in the #3 spot. The write-ups that accompany each quoted first line make me itch to read all of the books. Oh, words! You are so wonderful.


For what it’s worth, I’m now very curious to read The Luck of the Bodkins — and I’ve already read (and loved!) I Capture the Castle. Read all 10.

Do you have a favorite first line from fiction?

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16 Responses to “Reading Is Sexy: Best First Lines”

  1. Leigh says:

    I have two favorites:
    1. “All this happened, more or less.” -Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse-Five.’
    2. “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.” -Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’. (Okay, this is more than just the opening line, but it’s my favorite opening of a book ever.)

  2. katetastrophee says:

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

  3. All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

  4. brian t says:

    the beet is the most intense of vegetables

    Tom Robbins “Jitterbug Perfume”

  5. Sarah F says:

    This led me to another Guardian article that was excellent: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/20/ten-rules-for-writing-fiction-part-one

    Roddy Doyle: Do keep a thesaurus, but in the shed at the back of the garden or behind the fridge, somewhere that demands travel or effort. Chances are the words that come into your head will do fine, eg “horse”, “ran”, “said”.

  6. Mark says:

    “I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the Army.”

    John Scalzi-“Old Man’s War”

    “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

    William Gibson-“Neuromancer”

  7. MelissaG says:

    I loved reading that post and would never have come across it but for your link. Thanks!

  8. Tami C. says:

    Whenever I think of first lines of novels I always think of the movie “Throw Mama From the Train.”

    “The night was moist.”

  9. Robin Sue says:

    “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”
    Rebecca- Daphne du Maurier

  10. Juniper says:

    I have to go with three of my most favorite books ever.

    “I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time. It was the early summer of 1945, and we walked through the streets of a Barcelona trapped beneath ashen skies as dawn poured over Rambla de Santa Monica in a wreath of liquid copper.”
    -Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind

    “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”
    -Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

    “That was when I saw the Pendulum.”
    -Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum

    If this inspires even one person to read even one of these books I am happy!

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