The first line of a story can make or break any book. Whether it’s as simple as “Call me Ishmael” or as thought-provoking as “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,” great books are often remembered by their first lines. But it’s not just the classics that have the best lines! Here are some of our favourite first lines from (recent) literature.
That Time I Loved You by Carrianne Leung
1979: This was the year the parents in my neighbourhood began killing themselves. I was eleven years old and in Grade 6. Elsewhere in the world, big things were happening. McDonald’s introduced the Happy Meal, Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran and Michael Jackson released his album Off the Wall. But none of that was as significant to me as the suicides.
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
That summer I hunted the serial killer at night from my daughter’s playroom.
Canada by Richard Ford
First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then the murders, which happened later.
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
The Tower, which was not supposed to be there, plunges into the earth in a place just before the black pine forest begins to give way to swamp and then the reeds and wind-gnarled trees of the marsh flats.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I shouldn’t have come to this party. I’m not even sure I belong at this party. That’s not on some bougie shit, either. There are just some places where it’s not enough to be me. Either version of me. Big D’s surprise break party is one of those places.
A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle.
Divergent by Veronica Roth
There is one mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair.
And here are a couple classics, just for good measure…
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
What is the very best first line that you’ve read recently? Send us your favourites on Twitter @SavvyReader!