Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chapter One: "Call me Ishmael."

Books are either memorable or they're not. You either finish reading them or you can't. You either recommend stories or you don't. But the first line certainly makes a difference.

"124 was spiteful" - opening line to Tony Morrison's Beloved.

"All this happened, more or less" - beginning of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five.

And how could you refuse: "I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974." (Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex)

First lines prepare you for the story that almost never unfolds the way you thought it would. You meet the narrator who may or may not be reliable. You read that first line and decide, "Am I committed to this book?"

InfoPlease has compiled a list of the 100 best first lines, ranging from 18th century English prose to 1980s gritty text.

Leave a comment with your favorite first book lines!

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