Top Thirteen Best First Sentences In Literature

About The Author

I was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I've worked as a short-order cook, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, bartender, pedi-cab driver, copyeditor, and more. I've written and ghostwritten several published books and articles, but no matter where I've gone or what I've done to earn my living, there's always been literature and learning as the constant in my life.

11 Responses and Counting...

  • Maura 01.18.2012

    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak *A book for my 9th graders*
    First the colors.
    Then the humans.
    That’s usually how I see things.
    Or at least, how I try.
    Here’s a small fact: You are going to die.

    One of my faves… A River Runs Through It, Norman MacLean
    First sentence: In our family there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.
    Last sentence: I am haunted by waters.

    And of course, James Joyce always has some winners!

    Finally, Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451 “It was a pleasure to burn”

  • I like those. Thank you, Maura.

    And thank you for dropping by.

  • 124 was spiteful. (Tony Morrison, Beloved)

    A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. (John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces)

    In the spring of that year an epidemic of rabies broke out in Ether County, Georgia. (Pete Dexter, Paris Trout)

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. (Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice)

    P.S. I actually would have chosen “Jasper Maskelyne was drinking a glass of razor blades when the war began.” had that been an option.

  • Hi Cindy! Thank you. I forgot about Confederacy of Dunces. I didn’t love the book, but I like that opening.

    Thank you for dropping by.

  • Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun.

    (Douglas Adams – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

  • “It’s so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself.” -the opening line to “It’s kind of a funny story” which was one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. It ended up being more about healing than suicide but it was all in all life changing; especially with such an interesting first sentence.

  • Thank you, Maddy. I admit I’m not familiar with that — neither the sentence nor the story — but I like it, in a melancholy sort of way.

    It’s nice to meet you.

  • Yes, but none tops:

    Andra moi ennepe Mousa polutropon

  • Okay, okay. Now you’re talking my language.

  • I have not read the book (cheating the spirit of the question), but came across below recently after Maya passed, which was on a list of best first sentences …

    “When I was three and Bailey four, we had arrived in the musty little town, wearing tags on our wrists which instructed – ‘To Whom It May Concern’ – that we were Marguerite and Bailey Johnson Jr., from Long Beach, California, en route to Stamps, Arkansas, c/o Mrs. Annie Henderson.”

    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

    Creative Thought Process: Casually inform the reader that these children might not be in the best hands. Start by Fed-Ex-ing them 1,600 miles.

    Maddy’s choice for first sentence is from the teen novel “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” – the author, Ned Vizzini, threw himself of a building in Brooklyn where his parents live last December at the age of 32 leaving behind and wife and son.

  • “Maddy’s choice for first sentence is from the teen novel “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” – the author, Ned Vizzini, threw himself of a building in Brooklyn where his parents live last December at the age of 32 leaving behind and wife and son.”

    Jesus, that’s bleak.

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