BTT ~ Favorite First Lines

July 24, 2008 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe, Reading | 14 Comments
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Suggested by: Nithin

Here’s another idea about memorable first lines from books.

What are your favourite first sentences from books? Is there a book that you liked specially because of its first sentence? Or a book, perhaps that you didn’t like but still remember simply because of the first line?

It’s funny that this would be a question for this group. When I reviewed The Monsters of Templeton, I basically answered these questions.  I was so drawn in to the story by the first line of that novel:

“The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.”

I knew that I had to keep reading.  It also called to mind the first lines of two other books that I have memorized:

“Call me Ishmael.”

I absolutely hated Moby Dick, that line is so famous, it will always be in my brain.

My all-time favorite first line comes from my all-time favorite novel, Gone with the Wind:

Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.”

So, my post from last year pretty much answered these questions.  It’s a great topic and I’m looking forward to reading everyone else’s answers.



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  1. Great post! I have never read Gone with the Wind (I guess the movie was enough) but I do love that first line and should probably read the book!

  2. You know I have the same reaction to “Moby Dick.” That has always been an amazing first line to me. Too bad the rest of the book isn’t nearly as good. I thought it was agonizingly boring.

  3. Great answers!

    I never read Moby Dick, but I knew the line, it’s quite famous. So, should I bother reading it? 😉

    I loved reading Gone With The Wind, but I couldn’t remember the first line.

  4. I too, hated Moby Dick; I found it tedious.

  5. I’m going to join the chorus of Moby Dick hatred. That first line is the only thing good about it, but unfortunately it now makes me think of the extreme boredom I suffered getting through that book in high school.

    I love Gone with the Wind, though! There are many more great lines in that one. =)

  6. I think a first line can make or break a book.

  7. I like the one from Gone with the Wind.

  8. Leya, as J.S, Sally and Meghan have agreed, Moby Dick is not worth reading unless you absolutely must find a way to make yourself fall asleep. If you want to read a great book about a man and a fish, read The Old Man and the Sea. It’s vastly shorter and much richer IMHO.

  9. That is a great intro to The Monsters of Templeton! Must. Read. That. Book.

  10. I’m with Lisa on Gone with the Wind. This is a favorite for so many people, I can’t believe I’ve never read it.

    Monsters of Templeton … sounds good. I had to go read your review after that first line!

  11. Feline and Shana, I think you both would really enjoy The Monsters of Templeton. I’m hoping to have a giveaway for it when it comes out in paperback. 🙂
    Lisa and Shana, you really should read GWTW. In fact, I keep having the desire to read it again pop up more and more often. It won’t be long before I won’t be able to ignore it any longer.

  12. I liked probably the first quarter of “Moby Dick.” I can stand it up to the point where they actually get on the boat – after that, they’ve lost me. I really don’t need to know that much about whales!

  13. May the ghost of Herman Melville hack into the WordPress servers and delete this posting!

    And where are the favorite first sentences??? Too busy hating on Moby Dick to get that far, eh? 😉

    Well one of mine is “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”

    Yes, it’s from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and yes this choice is geeky and lowbrow as all get-out. And yes I’m not ashamed to admit that I love me some silly sci-fi and white whale lit.

  14. I can’t believe I’ve never read GWTW. I really need to do that!!

    Lol the Moby Dick line- I always remember it from that movie “Matilda”… the little girl is reading it at the end of the movie.

    As for my fav lines… Probably my favorite is “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.”

    Also “Emma”, “A Tale of Two Cities”, and “The Hobbit”.

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