The editors of American Book Review selected what they consider the most memorable first lines of novels. The titles on the list span centuries and genres and include classics and contemporary novels that are certain to become classics.Here are a few of my favorites from the selected 100:
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
"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."
"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."
"This is the saddest story I have ever heard."
"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."
"I am a sick man... I am a spiteful man."
"Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. 'Stop!' cried the groaning old man at last, 'Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree.'”
"Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board."
"Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex's admonition, against Allen's angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa's antipodal ant annexation."
"It was the day my grandmother exploded."
"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974."
"We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall."
"A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead."
"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person."
"You better not never tell nobody but God."
"'To be born again,' sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, 'first you have to die.'”
"Justice?—You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law."
"Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I've come to learn, is women."
"He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad."
Check out the list of 100 books in its entirety. Awesome!