Beginnings: Booking Through Thursday


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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?


 I haven’t done a “Booking Through Thursday” in quite a while- half the time I forget about it until, oh, Saturday, when really it’s way too late.  Today, though, I realized AHA! It’s Thursday! while it was still Thursday, so I popped over to see what the question was, and it’s one I’ve actually thought about in the past.

I expect a book to give me a good first line.  I love it when I get a DAMN GOOD first line, one that sucks me in to the story immediately and makes me want more.  A memorable first line (“Call me Ishmael“) is even better, but so infrequent as to make me wonder if authors are really trying- maybe they don’t much care if the first line is memorable.  And maybe it really doesn’t matter.  Or maybe it does matter, but it’s just crazy-difficult to come up with something fabulous.  I can count on one hand how many first lines I actually know from memory, but here is a recent one:

“I have never looked into my sister’s eyes.”  The Girls by Lori Lansens (reviewed HERE)

I liked this book but did not love it, however that first line (and much of the first paragraph) was amazing and has remained with me for months.  I’m always interested in books about sisters, probably because I have a complicated relationship with my own sister.  The Girls is about conjoined twins- joined at the head- explaining why she has never looked into her sister’s eyes.  

I don’t think the first line of a book ever makes it or breaks it, so to speak, but when I’m in a book store, or even standing in front of my TBR pile, I will sometimes open a book to page one and read the first couple of lines to decide if this is going to be the next book I read.  This line grabbed me today:

“I was thirteen years old when my parents conquered Granada.”  from The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner.

Bam!  I have to read this book!  I can’t wait to read this book!!  It’s about Juana of Castile, also known as Juana la Loca, crazy Queen Jane, sister to Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon.  Why was she crazy?  I have no idea, but cant wait to find out.

How do you feel about the first line in a book?  Do any stand out in your memory?  

Oh, and don’t forget about my book giveaway!  Click HERE to read about how you can win a copy of Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion!

8 Responses

  1. I love it when first lines grab my attention. You’re absolutely right about The Last Queen. That first line make me wish that I had a copy of that book.

    I didn’t really blog deeply into the fact why so many don’t though. You’re right. It seems like many authors don’t even try. Moby Dick was in my post, too. It would be interesting to see how many other people also included it.

  2. I don’t know any first lines off the top of my head, but definitely the first line can grab me or leave going, Meh. A good first line is very important. I think Stephen King does good first lines…this one from It:

    The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years — if it ever did end — began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.

    If that doesn’t give you shives and yet make you want to read more…I don’t know what would. 😀

  3. I just got The Last Queen today and now reading your post got me even more excited to read it! Great first line!

  4. The Last Queen is certainly a good example of a good first line.

  5. The Illiad has a good first line.

  6. OK, I’m the last person in the blogosphere to pick up *The Lace Reader*; not because I haven’t wanted to, having heard only great things about it … just because other things (books) have gotten in the way.

    So I started it today. The first sentence was short, so I’ll give you the first paragraph:

    “My name is Towner Whitney. No, that’s not exactly true. My real first name is Sophya. Never believe me. I lie all the time.”

    Yes, that pulled me in. Reminds me of a riddle; one that my kids try to tell me, then interrupt themselves and say “wait, that’s not how it goes .. I forgot to tell you about ….”

    By the way, I kept reading way past the first paragraph, and hope to get the bulk of it read tonight. Trying to get it reviewed before the 7/29 sale date.

  7. The Last Queen does sound good.

  8. For me the middle is important!

    Here is my BTT post

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