My Fix: The 25 Best First Lines from Novels

As I confessed in my previous post – see it below- nothing is more enthralling than a beautiful first sentence of a book.

Here are 25 of the best first lines, according to the American Book Review. For the top-100 list, check out:

1. Call me Ishmael.  —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

2. 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)

3. A screaming comes across  the sky. —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)

4. 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. —Gabriel García  Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)

5. Lolita, light of my  life, fire of my loins. —Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

6. Happy families are all  alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy,  Anna Karenina (1877;  trans. Constance Garnett)

7. riverrun, past Eve and  Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of  recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. —James Joyce, Finnegans  Wake (1939)

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

9. 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)

10. I am an invisible man.  —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

11. The Miss Lonelyhearts  of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in  trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you)  sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard. —Nathanael  West, Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)

12. 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. —Mark  Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

13.  Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done  anything truly wrong, he was arrested. —Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925; trans. Breon  Mitchell)

14. You are about to begin  reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler. —Italo Calvino, If on a  winter’s night a traveler  (1979; trans. William Weaver)

15.  The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel  Beckett, Murphy (1938)

16. 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)

17. 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. —James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

18. This is the saddest  story I have ever heard. —Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (1915)

19. I wish either my father  or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound  to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly  considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only  the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the  happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very  cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the  fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and  dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had  they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have  made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is  likely to see me. —Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759–1767)

20.  Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station  will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. —Charles Dickens, David  Copperfield (1850)

21. Stately, plump Buck  Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror  and a razor lay crossed. —James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)

22. It was a dark and  stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when  it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is  in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely  agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.  —Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

23. One summer afternoon  Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put  perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named  executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a  California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare  time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of  sorting it all out more than honorary. —Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of  Lot 49 (1966)

24. It was a wrong number  that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and  the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not. —Paul Auster, City  of Glass (1985)

25. Through the fence,  between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. —William  Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (1929)



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