BW open book

The American Book Review has come up with a list of 100 Best First Lines from Novels. While there were quite a few of those first lines that I could recognize  in the list, it was fun to be acquainted with many more which were unfamiliar to me. Do have a look at it yourself and see if you can spot any of your favourite openings in there as well.

Personally, two particularly memorable first lines that come to mind are :

Have you ever tasted a Whitstable oyster? If you have you will remember it.

Sarah Waters, Tipping The Velvet (1998)


No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

C.S Lewis, A Grief Observed (1961)

I first read those lines of C.S. Lewis when I was twenty and grieving over the loss of my first dog, whom I have had since I was four. It was my first full blown encounter with grief, and I can still remember thinking upon reading those lines, ‘Here is someone who is really saying it as it is. This is exactly what I feel!’ Those lines managed to help express what I was quietly internalizing. It articulated the process that was taking place in my systems, when I had no way of doing it myself. And that’s why they have stuck by, even seventeen years on.  

What about the rest of you? Care to share abit on your own personal favourites?


4 thoughts on “Favourite First Lines

  1. There are some glorious and very well known opening lines, but this is my favourite from a lesser known book:

    “Mary sometimes heard people say: ‘I can’t bear to be alone.” She could never understand this. All her life she had needed the benison of occasional solitude, and she needed it now more than ever. If she could not be with the man she loved, then she would rather be by herself.”

    from Mariana by Monica Dickens


  2. One of the new-found favorites: “One January day, thirty years ago, the little town of Hanover, anchored on a windy Nebraska tableland, was trying not to be blown away”, from ‘O Pioneers!’ by Willa Cather.


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