Favorite First Line

I thought it would be fun for everyone to post their favorite first lines to books they enjoy.

Here’s some of mine…

Everyone is born with some special talent, and Eliza Sommers discovered early on that she had two: a good sense of smell and a good memory.  

Daughter of Fortune, written by Isabel Allende


Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs. 

Little House in the Big Woods, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder


The night before I got married I woke up, screaming, from my sleep.

Songs of the Humpback Whale, written by Jodi Picoult


Now I believe they will leave me alone.

Angle of Repose, written by Wallace Stegner


It wasn’t every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of the road, not even in Dean Robillard’s larger-than-life world.

Natural Born Charmer, written by Susan Elizabeth Phillips


With slow, ponderously rhythmical steps the oxen moved, each step a pause and an effort, each movement a deadening drag.

The Tall Stranger, written by Louis L’Amour


Dear Hubby even got in on the action…

People do not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father’s blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen everyday.

True Grit, written by Charles Portis

So what are some of your favorite first lines?


19 thoughts on “Favorite First Line

  1. Those are great lines. I’m a huge fan of True Grit (and Little House on the Prairie). I’ve never read the book, but loved the movie — the first one with John Wayne. I heard the remake wasn’t so good, so didn’t bother to go.

    I was a big fan of Jonah Hex (the comics — I love westerns), but heard the movie, like True Grit, wasn’t great, so skipped it, too.

    Sorry, I don’t have any first lines to share. I never remember if they’re good or not, so I’d have to go through the books I’ve read to see if they were good.

    Do you remember great first sentences? Do they stick in your head and roll around for days or years? After I’ve read the first sentence, I don’t give it a second thought. I guess I just don’t have a memory for them.


  2. Diane,

    True Grit is a REALLY great book! If you loved the movie, I highly recommend the book. It’s a fairly quick read and you’ll be surprised at how much the movie lines are taken directly from its pages.

    The hubby and I have seen the “old” version of True Grit so many times we can quote nearly every line of the movie so were a bit apprehensive when we heard a new one came out.

    However, we were pleasantly surprised. The “new” movie is very different. Enough so, that I felt I was seeing a different movie, with new scenes and a different character goals. There is a big focus on the daughter’s storyline and the actress played it beautifully. There’s also several new storylines/settings included. I highly recommened it, even though the new one didn’t include my favorite line “You wash and you’ll get no breakfast” 🙂

    I had to go through my bookshelves to get the exact wordings of these first lines 🙂

    Thanks for visiting,


  3. I can’t find my copy to check and make sure, but I remember the first line of Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver as:

    I am the sister who didn’t go to war.

    Fabulous. I also love this first line of a short story, Chappaquiddick, by Sharon Doubiago:

    There are things that happen to you that take a long time to tell.

    Both of those lines have rolled around in my brain ever since I read them. Thanks for reminding me of them!

    • Charlotte,

      The Animal Dreams line is amazing! Hooks me right away and I want to know more. I love how much info it gives while using few words.

      Thanks for stopping by,


  4. Awesome lines there for sure, Christi!

    Here are a few I dragged out:

    There is comfort in ritual.

    “Head Games” written by Eileen Dreyer

    Queens County lies midway between Halifax and Yarmouth in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, jutting into the Atlantic Ocean like a giant jagged foot.

    “Life with Billy” written by Brian Vallee

    ps I couldn’t figure out how to italic in the blog. Stunned wa?

    • Karen,

      I made mine italics while writing the post, but the comments unfortunately don’t provide the same feature 😦

      I’m intrigued by the “Head Games” quote because I want to know what the ritual is. That one definitely grabbed my attention.


  5. I love all of your openings … and I have also watched True Grit and many other John Wayne movies so much, I can quote them. Never read the book and you stir my interest.

    I have a few openings I was saving for another post, but I want to share one with you that has been so used in quiz shows, I wasn’t going to include it in my post. Also, another opening of a book I used for a different type of post.

    This is one of those classics that shatters some of what we shouldn’t do … don’t start a book with dialogue (baloney)

    “The Signora had no business to do it,” said Miss Bartlett, “no business at all. She promised us south rooms with a view close together, instead of which here are north rooms, looking into a courtyard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy!” THIS IS FROM … A ROOM WITH A VIEW, by EM Forster

    The one that is used on quiz or trivia is a great. Three of us called the Main Library in NYC arguing over this quote.

    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, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

    THIS IS FROM… A TALE OF TWO CITIES, By Charles Dickens. A great epic novel I have adored since I was in hs … the other great line used from this book is the last …

    I wonder … do you know that one?? 🙂

    • Ramblings,

      I think the Dickins line is one of the best openers to a novel ever. So simple and sets up the tone and concept of the book perfectly.

      The last line is the perfect summary of the story too 🙂

      “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

      It’s so nice to have such a lovely writer friend like you who loves words!


  6. Brad,

    Wow! I’m a fan of westerns so I think this one will be next on my TBR list.

    Thanks for sharing,


    • Aaron,

      I love the simplicity of this line, and how it tells of what’s to come.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment 🙂


  7. Hi, so many good openers! Here’s my contribution, from the middle grade novel THE ISLANDER by Cynthia Rylant:

    I was a boy when I met the mermaid, and, of course, no one believed me.

  8. Monica,

    I confess, I first thought of the movie “Splash” with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah when I read this line.

    It definitely piqued my interest as it’s not a book I’ve heard of before. Is it a newer one, or did I miss out growing up? (I read TONS while growing up. The librarian knew me by name 🙂 )


  9. “Ash fell from the sky.” from Brandon Sanderson’s, Mistborn! I don’t know why that one sticks with me, but I think it’s because it’s such an visual description combining both the Familiar and the Unfamiliar.

  10. B.,

    I like that one. So simple and yet accomplishes the set-up in only a few words.

    Thanks so much for adding your first line!


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