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First Lines from Books

First Lines from Books

Many relationships start with a first line, so we’ve put together a list of opening lines that are sure to have you planning a date with a brand new book.

“This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.”

William Goldman, The Princess Bride

“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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

“When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

“It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen…”

 George Orwell, 1984

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” 

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

“Here is a small fact. You are going to die. I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic, though most people find themselves hindered in believing me, no matter my protestations. Please trust me. I most definitely can be cheerful. I can me amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that’s only the A’s. Just don’t ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me.”

 Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

“A mouse took a stroll through the deep, dark woods.” 

Julia Donaldson, The Gruffalo

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” 

Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca

“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversation?’.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

“Call me Ishmael.” 

Herman Melville, Moby Dick

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Best first lines from books:

  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
  • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville