First Lines (What to Read Next)

First lines can make or break a novel when you are trying to decide whether or not to read it. Here are a few of the first lines that convinced me to read the book that I was holding in my hands. Let me know if you have any unforgettable ‘firsts’.

‘It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.’
1984 / George Orwell

‘Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.’ — One Hundred Years of Solitude / Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

‘This is the saddest story I have ever heard.’
The Good Soldier / Ford  Madox Ford

‘After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn’s for an oyster supper.’ — The Meaning of Night: a confession / Michael Cox (2006)

‘The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.’
The Go-Between / L. P. Hartley (1953)

‘I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story .’
Ethan Frome / Edith Wharton (1911)

‘The corpse without hands lay in the bottom of a small sailing dinghy drifting just within sight of the Suffolk coast.’
Unnatural Causes / P. D.  James (1967)




8 responses to “First Lines (What to Read Next)

  1. Cathy

    A first line that never fails to make me feel nostalgic… “Once upon a time, but not very long ago, deep in the Australian bush, there lived two possums.” No matter how many ‘grown-up’ books I read nothing beats the seemingly simple but lyrically complex stories of my childhood, including Possum Magic of course!

  2. Yes, all those lovely childhood ones – ’twas brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe…

  3. Lucy

    I have always wanted to read a book that started with “It was a dark and stormy night….”.

    • “It was a dark and stormy night, the rain fell in torrents–except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

  4. Brenna

    “It was a pleasure to burn…”
    Fahrenheit 451 / Ray Bradbury (1953)

  5. IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.