Best First Lines

Description
Novels that have excellent or memorable first lines. Started from American Book Review's 100 Best First Lines from Novels (http://americanbookreview.org/100bestlines.asp)
1
80,962 members
1,371 reviews
½ 4.4
5 Members
Aquila, merrystar, aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
2
25,535 members
258 reviews
4
6 Members
Aquila, hipdeep, merrystar, aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it
3
94,786 members
1,192 reviews
½ 4.3
5 Members
Aquila, hipdeep, merrystar, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
hipdeep: In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
4
9,229 members
294 reviews
4.1
5 Members
Aquila, merrystar, aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.
5
82,244 members
1,274 reviews
4.2
5 Members
Aquila, hipdeep, aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
6
36,805 members
456 reviews
3.9
5 Members
Aquila, hipdeep, merrystar, aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: 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.
7
54,106 members
1,002 reviews
4
5 Members
hipdeep, merrystar, aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: It was a pleasure to burn.
8
24,943 members
532 reviews
½ 4.3
4 Members
Aquila, hipdeep, merrystar, ahef1963
Explanations
hipdeep: This is my favorite book in all the world, though I've never read it.
9
24,830 members
527 reviews
4.1
3 Members
hipdeep, merrystar, ahef1963
Explanations
hipdeep: Marley was dead, to begin with.
10
43,142 members
520 reviews
3.9
4 Members
hipdeep, aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter.
11
44,121 members
708 reviews
4.1
4 Members
hipdeep, aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: All this happened, more or less.
12
20,829 members
614 reviews
4.2
3 Members
Aquila, hipdeep, ahef1963
Explanations
hipdeep: Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
13
19,187 members
346 reviews
4
4 Members
hipdeep, aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board.
14
44,546 members
697 reviews
4.2
3 Members
hipdeep, aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
15
38,593 members
632 reviews
4.1
3 Members
Aquila, hipdeep, aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
16
35,548 members
545 reviews
3.8
2 Members
aethercowboy, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: Call me Ishmael.
17
9,823 members
433 reviews
3.9
2 Members
ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
ManWithAnAgenda: No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.
18
69,717 members
1,083 reviews
3.8
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
19
28,194 members
504 reviews
4
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.
20
15,986 members
384 reviews
4
2 Members
Aquila, hipdeep
Explanations
Aquila: I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.
21
7,683 members
113 reviews
3.9
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me.
22
72,420 members
1,175 reviews
3.8
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
23
21,262 members
217 reviews
½ 3.7
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo.
24
20,758 members
276 reviews
4.1
3 Members
hipdeep, aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: 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.
25
30,597 members
453 reviews
4.1
3 Members
hipdeep, aethercowboy, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.
26
22,922 members
408 reviews
3.9
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: 124 was spiteful.
27
19,027 members
326 reviews
3.9
3 Members
Aquila, hipdeep, ahef1963
Explanations
Aquila: All children, except one, grow up.
28
35,605 members
507 reviews
3.9
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: Mother died today.
29
4,798 members
115 reviews
3.8
2 Members
hipdeep, aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: This is the saddest story I have ever heard.
30
8,494 members
255 reviews
½ 3.5
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.
31
9,523 members
215 reviews
½ 3.6
3 Members
Aquila, aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story.
32
7,947 members
168 reviews
4
3 Members
hipdeep, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
hipdeep: Taran wanted to make a sword, but Coll, charged with the practical side of his education, decided on horseshoes.
33
10,750 members
243 reviews
4
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together.
34
5,832 members
109 reviews
4.1
2 Members
ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
ManWithAnAgenda: My wound is geography.
35
19,799 members
340 reviews
4.1
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: You better not never tell nobody but God.
36
20,707 members
331 reviews
3.9
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.
37
6,243 members
116 reviews
4.1
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: I have never begun a novel with more misgiving.
38
6,552 members
171 reviews
3.9
3 Members
hipdeep, aethercowboy, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: 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.
39
23,320 members
323 reviews
½ 3.6
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good Family, tho' not of that Country, my Father being a Foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull; He got a good Estate by Merchandise, and leaving off his Trade, lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my Mother, whose Relations were named Robinson, a very good Family in that Country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual Corruption of Words in England, we are now called, nay we call our selves, and write our Name Crusoe, and so my Companions always call'd me.
40
17,792 members
331 reviews
4.2
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.
41
12,076 members
140 reviews
½ 3.7
3 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: "To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die."
42
23,111 members
379 reviews
3.9
2 Members
hipdeep, aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
43
1,751 members
55 reviews
4
2 Members
hipdeep, aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.
44
31,778 members
565 reviews
4.1
2 Members
aethercowboy, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.
45
26,584 members
401 reviews
4
2 Members
Aquila, ahef1963
Explanations
Aquila: "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents."
46
775 members
33 reviews
½ 3.4
2 Members
aethercowboy, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard.
47
5,341 members
59 reviews
3.9
2 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.
48
16,214 members
212 reviews
4
2 Members
hipdeep, aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: I am an invisible man.
49
118 members
3 reviews
½ 3.7
Member
Macbeth
Explanations
Macbeth: I blame the Pope
50
19,948 members
237 reviews
4
2 Members
aethercowboy, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.
51
22,054 members
169 reviews
½ 3.7
2 Members
hipdeep, ahef1963
Explanations
hipdeep: Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, [...]
52
18,469 members
309 reviews
3.8
2 Members
hipdeep, ahef1963
Explanations
hipdeep: No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were being scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
53
12,562 members
260 reviews
4.1
2 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler.
54
2,335 members
39 reviews
4
2 Members
aethercowboy, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
55
562 members
18 reviews
½ 3.5
2 Members
aethercowboy, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.
56
2,355 members
78 reviews
½ 4.3
2 Members
hipdeep, ahef1963
Explanations
hipdeep: I don't know what I should talk about - about death or about love? Or are they the same?
57
11,017 members
194 reviews
½ 3.7
2 Members
aethercowboy, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary.
58
24,163 members
379 reviews
4
2 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.
59
10,655 members
174 reviews
3.9
2 Members
aethercowboy, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.
60
1,463 members
37 reviews
½ 3.7
2 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.
61
17,342 members
226 reviews
4
2 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.
62
14,388 members
192 reviews
4
2 Members
hipdeep, ahef1963
Explanations
hipdeep: We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.
63
12,546 members
222 reviews
3.9
2 Members
hipdeep, ahef1963
Explanations
hipdeep: When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.
64
11,170 members
182 reviews
4.2
2 Members
aethercowboy, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: For a long time, I went to bed early.
65
30,815 members
507 reviews
3.8
2 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.
66
10,786 members
141 reviews
4.1
Member
aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: A screaming comes across the sky.
67
778 members
9 reviews
3.8
Member
ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
ManWithAnAgenda: The telephone bell was ringing wildly, but without result, since there was no-one in the room but the corpse.
68
27,210 members
631 reviews
4.1
2 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.
69
9,070 members
115 reviews
½ 3.7
2 Members
aethercowboy, ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
aethercowboy: He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull.
70
22,489 members
244 reviews
½ 3.7
2 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.
71
3,563 members
77 reviews
½ 3.5
2 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: Vaughan died yesterday in his last car-crash.
72
458 members
18 reviews
3.9
Member
ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
ManWithAnAgenda: I am thirty years old and that is nothing.
73
9,200 members
168 reviews
4.2
2 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as "Claudius the Idiot," or "That Claudius," or "Claudius the Stammerer," or "Clau-Clau-Claudius" or at best as "Poor Uncle Claudius," am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the "golden predicament" from which I have never since become disentangled.
74
9,125 members
163 reviews
3.9
2 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space
75
11,213 members
128 reviews
½ 3.4
2 Members
aethercowboy, ahef1963
Explanations
aethercowboy: The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.
76
10,776 members
125 reviews
3.9
Member
ManWithAnAgenda
Explanations
ManWithAnAgenda: Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.
77
5,573 members
350 reviews
4.1
Member
Aquila
Explanations
Aquila: I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites.
78
4,523 members
185 reviews
4.1
Member
Aquila
Explanations
Aquila: In the myriadic year of our lord—the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death!—Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.
79
132 members
4 reviews
3.9
Member
Aquila
Explanations
Aquila: Hal was not yet a prince when she fell in love with Lady Hotspur, but she would be within the hour.
80
823 members
29 reviews
½ 3.7
Member
Aquila
Explanations
Aquila: The wind came into the house from the Sound, and it blew Daisy and me around her East Egg mansion like puffs of dandelion seeds, like foam, like a pair of young woman in white dresses who had no cares to weigh them down.
81
8,869 members
153 reviews
4.2
Member
hipdeep
Explanations
hipdeep: I am old now, and have not much to fear from the anger of gods.
82
1,887 members
43 reviews
3.9
Member
Aquila
Explanations
Aquila: The note said: someone in this class is a witch.
83
10,747 members
268 reviews
4.1
Member
Aquila
Explanations
Aquila: There was a wall.
84
2,533 members
45 reviews
3.9
Member
Aquila
Explanations
Aquila: Apart from the one in the church tower, there were five clocks in the village that kept reasonable time, and my father owned one of them.
85
4,900 members
121 reviews
½ 3.7
Member
Aquila
Explanations
Aquila: I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to me, or to any other.
86
1,663 members
25 reviews
3.8
Member
aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.
87
1,276 members
82 reviews
½ 3.5
Member
hipdeep
Explanations
hipdeep: Once upon a time on a small, watery, excitable planet called Earth, in a small, watery, excitable country called Italy, a soft-spoken, rather nice-looking gentleman by the name of Enrico Fermi was born into a family so overprotective that he felt compelled to invent the atomic bomb.
88
239 members
4 reviews
3.8
Member
hipdeep
Explanations
hipdeep: My old eighth-grade teacher, Miss Maggie Doubloon, said she was half Spanish, half French, and half Irish, a plethora of halves not entirely unnoticed by some of the brighter pupils.
89
4,924 members
431 reviews
3.8
Member
hipdeep
Explanations
hipdeep: From the top of the large boulder he sat on, Ensign Tom Davis looked across the expanse of the cave toward Captain Lucius Abernathy, Science Officer Q'eeng, and Chief Engineer Paul West and thought, "Well, this sucks."
90
101 members
1 review
4
Member
aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
91
4,067 members
81 reviews
½ 3.6
Member
aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.
92
12,580 members
156 reviews
4.1
Member
aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man.
93
582 members
10 reviews
3.9
Member
aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: Where now? Who now? When now?
94
2,373 members
103 reviews
3.8
Member
hipdeep
Explanations
hipdeep: Dirk Moeller didn't know if he could fart his way into a major diplomatic incident.
95
445 members
3 reviews
3.1
Member
aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. "Stop!" cried the groaning old man at last, "Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree."
96
621 members
11 reviews
½ 3.6
Member
aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: In a sense, I am Jacob Horner.
97
1,330 members
28 reviews
3.8
Member
aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: It was like so, but wasn't.
98
1,382 members
19 reviews
4.2
Member
aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: —Money . . . in a voice that rustled.
99
4,903 members
49 reviews
3.8
Member
aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: They shoot the white girl first.
100
192 members
2 reviews
½ 3.4
Member
aethercowboy
Explanations
aethercowboy: The moment one learns English, complications set in.