Friday, March 16, 2012

Hello again, and the 100 Best First Lines of Novels

So I quit blogging for the last six months or so, not for any terrible reason, but out of inertia. I guess I needed a break, and seem to have lost the urgency previously driving me to write about books. I've certainly still been reading books, and thinking about books--just not writing about them. But I miss my blogging friends, which are really the best thing to come out of blogging, for me, so I thought I would check back in and see everyone.

My wonderful book group just finished The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach, which we all enjoyed--much to the surprise of those who thought the novel was actually going to be about baseball. Unfortunately, at our meeting we did not pick a book to read next. If we don't pick right away, it tends to stymie us, and we send several hundred emails back and forth debating the potential pros and cons of many options. I think we have finally settled on Swamplandia, by Karen Russell. I hope so, as it's looking like an interesting novel.

I ran across this article about the 100 Best First Lines of Novels. There is nothing better than a clever or memorable first line in a novel, and this collection was fun to look through.

Number 2 on the list is probably my favorite: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. - Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813).

Five and six are favorites as well:

5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. - Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. - Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)

There are many other first lines I love on the list, as well as a bunch I didn't remember, or had never even heard of. Tell me some of your favorite first lines! Do you know any by heart?


Bybee said...

"Where's Papa going with that ax?" - Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. Pretty brutal beginning for a children's book and the reader is immediately in the story.

Gentle Reader said...

Wow, good one! I loved that book as a kid, but didn't remember the first line at all!

Sandy said...

My goodness there are sooo many that I'd pick. I found a great list at that's really got me interested in thinking about how these great first lines come to be. Are they created first, stressed over by the authors or added after the rest of the story is done? I so wish I could ask.