You know that saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, it’s nonsense because that is exactly what I do when I’m looking for my next book. If I don’t know the author by now and the title or cover doesn’t sell it, there is a 99% chance I won’t even bother picking it up.
The first lines of a story is usually the hook. It has to be interesting enough for the reader to want to continue reading. I went to all my favourite books to see what their first lines are.
I’m going to give you the first lines without telling you from which book it is. Some will be easier than others:
When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
That was easy. It’s the first line from Harper Lee’s To kill a mocking bird.
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 conversation in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice ‘without pictures or conversation?’
Clue: The author of this book also wrote the Jabberwocky poem.
Now see if you can guess these:
Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
First the Colours.
Mathilde took out her diary and wrote: The man sitting next to me has got one hell of a nerve.
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.
Dad was a tall man, with a large head, jowls, and a Herbert Hoover collar.
Would any of these first lines hook you?
One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it: – it was the black kitten’s fault entirely.
In 1625, a young man of eighteen arrived in the town of Meung.
I have been arrested. – The second sentence will give it away.
There was once a gentleman, a tall fellow with an air of superiority about him, who made it his business to come down to the marketplace in Portsmouth on the first Sunday of every month in order to replenish his library.
It was just three days, seventeen hours, and thirty-three minutes until Christmas in Whoville.
Sophie couldn’t sleep.
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
The following three is from three Agatha Christie’s novels:
Mrs McGillicuddy panted along the platform in the wake of the porter carrying her suitcase.
Miss Jane Marple was sitting by her window.
Mrs Bantry was dreaming.
Another Roald Dahl classic:
In fairy-tales, witches always wear silly black hats and black cloaks, and ride on broomsticks.
From other classics:
Call me Ishmael.
Left Munich at 8.35pm on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late.
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.