They say that first reactions are made in the first 30 seconds. This is all true for books. An author has to impress in the first line to catch the reader’s attention. Some first lines are witty, some are funny some are tragic, and others outrageous. Here are some of the greatest first lines from popular novels.
1. Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing. — Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes,
2. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. - One hundred years of solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
3. Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu. — Waiting, Ha Jin
4. A screaming comes across the sky. — Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
5. You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. — Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
6. All this happened, more or less. — Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
7. He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull. — Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad,
8. "To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die." — The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
9. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
10. Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. — A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce,
11. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. — A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Squire Trelawnay, Dr Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17-- and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof.- Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
What are your favourite first lines? Let me know in the comments!