A first impression goes a long way. That's true with people, and I think it's also true with books. When I'm choosing a new book, once I get past the title and the author, it's the first line--or first few lines--that make the decision for me. It's that handful of words, so carefully, and at times, so powerfully strung together, that hook me (or not) to make a lasting impression and get me reading.
As I started to think more about the power of first lines, I turned to my trusty bookshelf. Pulling out different books and flipping to the first pages, I wanted to remember what it was that got me hooked on a certain book.
After spending some time on this, and being surrounded by a pile of books, and so many wonderful first lines, there were 10 that really stood out...
1. "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." -The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. "I'd never given much thought to how I would die--though I'd had reason enough in the last few months--but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this." -Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
3. "In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since." -The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
4. "I wore a black suit and a white shirt, a black tie and black shoes, all polished and shiny: clothes that normally would make me feel uncomfortable, as if I were in a stolen uniform, or pretending to be an adult. Today they gave me comfort of a kind. I was wearing the right clothes for a hard day." -The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
5. "There are some men who enter a woman's life and screw it up forever." -One for the Money, Janet Evanovich
6. "He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty four days now without taking a fish." -The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
7. "The man with fewer than three years to live has his left hand on the Bible." -Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
8. "When you work in the glove department at Neiman's, you are selling things that nobody buys anymore." -Shopgirl, Steve Martin
9. "My suffering left me sad and gloomy." -Life of Pi, Yann Martel
10. "'It's your heart,' says the gastroenterologist after performing an endoscopy on me." -Open Heart, Elie Wiesel
Each of these lines goes right to the core of some human emotion. They are powerful and intriguing. They hit your heart with a feeling of empathy or compassion, they pique your intellectual curiosity and get your mind churning, or they shock you in their impactful simplicity and truth. They are the hooks that lure you in, and not only get you reading, but have you remembering them for quite some time.
Here's to those special first lines that make lasting impressions on all of us.
Tell me, what are the great first lines that got you hooked on a book?