September 16, 2010

The 10 Greatest First Lines

Looking to write a piece of literary genius, but not sure how to begin? Here are some of the greatest first lines from novels. I have borrowed quite a few entries from the American Book Review's list, but added in my own, and changed the order. Take a look at a few great hooks.

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
J. D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye 1951

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.
Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities 1859

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
King James The Bible 1611

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.
Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas 1971

It was a pleasure to burn.
Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451 1953

124 was spiteful.
Toni Morrison Beloved 1987

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
George Orwell 1984 1949

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 1813

It was love at first sight.
Joseph Heller Catch-22 1961

Call me Ishmael.
Herman Melville Moby-Dick 1851