Monday, September 25, 2023

Hooked By the First Line

Last week I stopped by the library to pick up a couple of books they were holding for me, and while I waited to check out, I eavesdropped on a conversation that the patron ahead of me and the library clerk were having. The patron was excited to get home and read the book she was checking out because it had a great first line: "The story so far: in the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." 

I thought this might be from Douglas Adams, but I wasn't sure which one of his books it was from. It turns out it was The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

This got me started thinking about great first lines. Here are some that I liked. I tried to choose from books that I thought might be more easily recognized, and I hope that at least one or two of them are giveaways. Do you recognize any of them? Feel free to leave your guesses and your own favorite first lines in the comments. I'll provide a list of the answers tomorrow. 

1.  "The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation."

2.  "124 was spiteful. Full of Baby's venomThe women in the house knew it and so did the children."

3.  "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."

4.  “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”

5.  "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."

6.  "This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it."

7.  “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”  

8.  “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” 

9.  "In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing."

10. "Where's Papa going with that axe?' said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast."

11. "I'm pretty much f*cked."

12. “You wake up with the answer to the question that everyone asks. The answer is Yes, and the answer is Just Like Here But Worse."

13. “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.”

14. “Captain Ahab was neither my first husband, nor my last.”

15. “I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving”.

16. "When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake --- not a very big one."


  1. What fun, Bonny! I recognize a couple (Secret History and Charlotte's Web) but most are not familiar to me but what a great way to expand my "read soon" list! :)

  2. I recognized Rebecca. Some sound familiar but it's Monday morning, lol :)

  3. I, too, recognized some: Rebecca, Charlotte's Web, Ahab's Wife. I'll look forward to your answers!!

  4. #2 is Beloved! I adore that book! and #13 is Middlesex. Rebecca of course. Will you be posting an answer key?

  5. I recognize The Secret History, Rebecca, A River Runs Through It, Charlotte's Web, Seven Moons of Maali Almedia, and Middlesex. I think that's pretty good!

  6. These are great! I recognize One Hundred Years of Solitude, Rebecca, Charlotte's Web, & Beloved. I think #7 is from one of the books in Chronicles of Narnia, but I can't remember which one. I look forward to the answers!

  7. I recognize 8, 10, and 12 for sure, I think I know 9 as well.

  8. Well I am looking forward to the answers. I recognized Beloved and Charlotte's Web.

  9. What a GREAT post, Bonny! I see Seven Moons in there, for sure. And The Outsiders and Middlesex and Beloved and A River Runs Through It, too. And althought I haven't read it in a very long time, the "Manderley" must be Rebecca. I bet there are others I "might" know, but I'm not immediately recognizing them at the moment . . .


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