First lines aren’t the only thing that make me want to read a book but they are powerful. I love lines that give me heart palpitations. Lines that make me sit up a little and smile. Lines that dance around the corners of my mind long after I’ve closed a book.
In many ways, a first line of a book is a promise. So, when that promise is bold, big, and interesting I get more than a little excited.
Here are some of my absolute favourite first lines.
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
Author: Daphne Du Maurier
Why The Book Is Also Great: This book amazed me when I first read it, one summer when I was fourteen or so, mostly because for the entire thing we never once learn the name of the protagonist. We get so close to her, and we learn deep, dark and twisted secrets, but never her first name. For some reason that has always intrigued me.
“It was a pleasure to burn”
Book: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Why The Book Is Also Great: It wasn’t just the first line that did this, but I suppose it’s where it started — you see, this was the first book that ever made my pulse race from the very first line. There was a promise of something delicious with every syllable. To say I loved this book would be an understatement. It
“The early summer sky was the colour of cat vomit.”
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Why It’s Great: As descriptive first lines go, it doesn’t get much better than this.
“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.”
Book: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Why It’s Great: I’ve always found The Great Gatsby surprisingly easy, and satisfying, to read on a hot summer afternoon. This line offers intrigue, and reflection, which I feel like is also the mood of the whole book. V good.
What are your favourite first lines?