The first line of a book is incredibly important. It hooks the reader and sets the tone for the entire novel. In my own writing, I often spend hours coming up with the perfect first sentence. The other day, I came across one of my favorite first lines and I couldn’t help but stop and appreciate how great it was. So I went through my books, and started putting together a collection of my all-time favorite first lines and I thought I’d share them with you.
These are the first lines that immediately made me want to read more. The ones I have memorized and can quote easily. I love them all, and the books the belong to.
There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.
Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
It was a bright, cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.
George Orwell, 1984
I’m pretty much fucked.
Andy Weir, The Martian
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
Once upon a time, a man came from the sky and killed my wife.
Pierce Brown, Golden Son
It was a pleasure to burn.
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another his mother called him “WILD THING!” and Max said “I”LL EAT YOU UP!” so he was sent to bed without eating anything.
Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Here’s a small fact: you are going to die.
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his years, and I tell you he’s the one.
Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game
All children, except one, grow up.
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
What’s your favorite first line?