March 17

Best First Lines

Posted by lori . 9 Comments


The American Book Review published a list, 100 Best First Lines from Novels.  Here are my 5 favorites from the ones that made the list:

1.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

2.  Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. – Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

3.  I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. – Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome (1911)

4.  A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead. – Graham Greene, The End of the Affair (1951)

5.  He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. – Raphael Sabatini, Scaramouche (1921)

Do you have any favorite first lines?

Daily Inspiration


What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you.

Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave.  They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.

Anne Lamott

This entry was posted on Saturday, March 17th, 2012 at 2:00 am and is filed under Lori's Lists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to " Best First Lines"

  • Declan says:

    So how come a greyhound was wrecking the house at two in the morning……? – Dash, Bitch of the Year by Andrew Dilger. Deccy x

  • Super post. And, what great quotes you found to go with it.

    Just wanted to thank you for stopping by the other day and for keeping Knuckles in your thoughts. It’s great to have friends. That’s for sure.

    pawhugs, Max and HH

  • Bassetmomma says:

    my all time favorite is still Charles Dickens, A Tale Of Two Cities. I own my Mother`s copy from school! Happy Patty’s Day!

  • fern reed says:

    I love your visits to our blog!!! I wish I had more time to visit all the dogs and cats blogs there is!!!!!! LOL But I know I would have to 87 thousand people to do that!! Isn’t it wonderful to know there are a LOT of people taking GOOD care of their animals!!!

  • Those were all great! I personally have always loved the opening line of Romeo and Juliet, even though it’s a play and not a “book”
    Dachshund Nola’s Mommy

  • houndstooth says:

    When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn’t have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.

    When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out. — To Kill A Mockingbird

    There are so many good ones, though, it’s hard to pick one favorite! My list of favorite books would be incredibly long!

  • Kat says:

    Was shocked that *the* best opening line of *all-time* was not in the list: “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” — Stephen King, Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (1982).

  • mel says:

    i love the tragic story of ethan frome!
    those opening lines can pull you right into the story.
    if you were to write a book, what would be your opening line?

  • EvaMae says:

    Books never fail to take me where I want to go and open my eyes to new ideas and adventures <3

Leave a Reply to EvaMae