BookChums Cart
» » Some of the best opening lines in literature

Some of the best opening lines in literature

Post by: Sonam Kapoor

All it really takes to hook a person to a good book, is the opening line.

Though they are stand alone sentences, they lure and entice (sometimes quite literally) the readers to discover more. 
I recently happened to glance at the opening passage of Gary Shteyngart’s forthcoming novel, Super Sad True Love Story and it read, 
“Today I’ve made a major decision: I am never going to die. Others will die around me. They will be nullified. Nothing of their personality will remain. The light switch will be turned off.”
That was it for me... I knew I was going to read this book...and soon!
Such beginnings, recent and classic, are few and rare.
Here are some opening lines that I've really liked. Hope you agree.
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” — Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” — 1984 by George Orwell
“He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.” — Orlando by Virginia Woolf
 “The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children’s games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up.” — The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G. K. Chesterton
 “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.” — A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic vermin.” — Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” — Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
“No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were being scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.” — War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” — Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
“Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood.” — Inferno by Dante
“It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.” — Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess
 “You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning.” - Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
 "Mother died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know.” - The Stranger by Albert Camus
“A screaming comes across the sky.” - Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
“Call me Ishmael.” – Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
 “I woke up in bed with a man and a cat. The man was a stranger; the cat was not.” - To Sail Beyond the Sunset by Robert A. Heinlein
“This is the saddest story I have ever heard.” - The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
 “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." - The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
 “Was it the bourbon or the dye fumes that made the pink walls quiver like vaginal lips?” - Suicide Blonde by Darcey Steinke
 “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.” - David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
 “It was a pleasure to burn.” - Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
 “124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom.” – Beloved by Toni Morrison
“Miss Mandible wants to make love to me but she hesitates because I am officially a child.” – Me and Miss Mandible by Donald Barthelme
 “What could be worse than having to be seen resorting to your own life.” – Sororally by Gary Lutz (in Stories in the worst way)
 “The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.” – Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palette to tap, at three, the teeth. Lo. Lee Ta. 
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.” - Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov
Feel free to add your own picks in the comments section.
0 Comment

Add Your Comment: