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The Best First Lines of All Time

In my opinion, what makes a first line (or first lines) good is if I am hooked from the start or I feel curious enough to read on.

First lines are very important, they’re like the icing on a cupcake. If you like the icing then you’re going to enjoy the whole cupcake much more than if you don’t. However, first lines aren’t a necessary ingredient in a good book. Cupcakes don’t require icing and you can scrape it off, if need be.

Anyway, enough of my random cupcake analogy. These are the best first lines of all time, in my opinion:

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein:

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort”

These first two lines have all the feels for me. I’m not sure why but I always feel really nostalgic whenever I read them.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo:

“Joost had two problems: the moon and his moustache.”

Personally, I think this opening is random but absolutely iconic. (Spoiler ahead!) Joost may have died in the first chapter (R.I.P) but he will always be remembered for his really weird problems.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens:

“Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.”

This opening immediately hooked me. I was full of questions: Who is Marley? Why is he dead? Why is he significant? It’s just brilliant.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor:

“On the second sabbat of Twelfthmoon, in the city of Weep, a girl fell from the sky.”

This first line sounds so magical, like the beginning of a fairy tale. When I read it, I immediately knew I was going to adore the book.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

“First the colors.
Then the humans.
That’s usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try”

I adore The Book Thief and I like its first line because it doesn’t make much sense at first, then you read on and you begin to understand. It’s so whimsical and I feel like it captures the tone of the entire book.


What are your favourite first lines? Are there any I should add to my list? I’d love to see your answers in the comments!

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10 thoughts on “The Best First Lines of All Time

  1. Two books I read in 2018 had openings that really stuck with me!

    Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
    “If you’re going to read this, don’t bother. After a couple pages you won’t want to be here. So forget it. Go away.”

    Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (really the last sentence on the first page, but I count as the beginning)
    “So it begins, this story, like everything else-with a woman, and a city, and a little bit of luck.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some recent ones I read that really grabbed me were:
    Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
    “If you’re going to read this, don’t bother. After a couple pages you won’t want to be here. So forget it. Go away.”

    Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (technically the last sentence of the first page but I see as the opening)
    “So it begins, this story, like everything else-with a woman, and a city, and a little bit of luck.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, that’s a very good first line. Definitely makes me wonder how someone can maybe, possibly, accidentally have killed their three best friends 😂
      I’m adding Goodbye Days to my tbr just because of that. Like I said, first lines are very powerful!

      Liked by 1 person

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