My Favourite First Sentences.


Hoi! Today I want to talk to you guys about my favourite first lines from books. I have done the First Sentence Tag in the past with Jean from BookishThoughts, I’ll put a link to that one in the description, before that we sort of randomly selected books. This time I’m just gonna talk to you through some of my all-time favourites. I bet there are a lot more hiding in my personal library, and I also know that you guys probably have great suggestions. So if you do, leave them in the comments. Here we go. First of all we have ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ by John Green. “Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death”. This is such a great introduction to the book. It has humor, but also sort of introduces you to a sort of general topic of the book. Then, of course, we have Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’. I’m pretty sure you guys will know this one by now. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”. Then this is one that I think came up in the first sentence challenge as well. ‘The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams. “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun”, which does such a great job of being kind of vague but also conveying the insignificance of Earth. Then one of my favourite books, Jean Rhys’s ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’. The first sentence there really, really gives you the atmosphere and the overall theme of the book immediately in a really short sentence: “They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did”. Then, of course, another famous one, ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, “Mr. and Mrs.Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” ‘1984’ by George Orwell is one that I haven’t read yet, and I didn’t know about this awesome first sentence until I did some research on the internet. And the first sentence is: “It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen”. The first sentence of ‘The Virgin Suicides’ by Jeffrey Eugenides immediately sort of does everything you expect, but never thought would actually be in the first sentence. “On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide— it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills, like Therese— the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope.” Then I have a book that I talked about quite a lot recently and I have a new addition, because I got it for my birthday from Rosianna. The first sentence of Jane Eyre is: “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.” And then finally we have “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov, which I actually think has pretty famous first sentence as well, and if you sort of know what the general topic of the book is, this just immediately makes you uncomfortable “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins”. So those are some of my favorite first sentences, like I said before, if you have a favourite, leave them in a comment below and maybe I’ll do one of these in the future again. And I’ll talk to you guys later. Doei!

100 thoughts on “My Favourite First Sentences.

  1. Some wonderful opening sentences there! I think my favourite would have to be from The Princess Bride by William Goldman, "This is my favourite book in all the world, though I have never read it."

  2. "There was once a boy named Milo who didn't know what to do with himself – not just sometimes, but always." -The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
    "Look, unless you're writing one, a self-help book is an oxymoron." -How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
    "Once upon a time – for that is how all stories should begin – there was a boy who lost his mother." -The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
    "Rain fell that night, a fine, whispering rain." -Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

  3. One of the opening lines I like is from Catcher in the Rye:
    "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."

  4. "The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say." – The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

    Good first line, even better book (the way it's said is how it's written in the book)

  5. "Just before midnight that night, I stand barefoot in the grass in a borrowed dress, drinking champagne out of a plastic cup and looking at the stars."
    Vivian Versus the Apocolypse by Katie Coyle. It sets the scene beautifully.

  6. "When Mary Lennox was send to Misselthwaitrle Manor to live with her unle, everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen." The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

    I find this first sentence just so funny and sassy but it also captures perfectly how Mary is at the beginning of the book.

  7. I've always liked "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed", from The Dark Tower. Instantly grabs your attention with all sorts of questions.

  8. My favorite fist line will always be the first line from The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the moviehouse, I only had two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home".

  9. My favourite first line if from The shadow of the wind by Carlos Ruíz Zafón "I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time. It was the early summer of 1945, and we walked through the streets of a Barcelona trapped beneath ashen skies as dawn poured over Rambla de Santa Monica in a wreath of liquid copper."

  10. All great choices!

    One of my favourites is the first line of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez: "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."

  11. My absolute favorite opening line is from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis:

    "There once was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb and he almost deserved it."

  12. My favourite first sentences: 

    "Dear friend, I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn't try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have." The Perks of Being a Wallflower

    "My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." The Lovely Bones (this is two sentences but oh well)

    "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

    🙂

  13. My favorite first sentence (well technically paragraph, but the first sentence is fine by itself) is from the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. "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."

  14. coming from a died-in-the-wool, sci-fi geek,
    one of my favs, without a doubt is:
    "space is deep. Man is small. and time is his relentless enemy"

  15. Awesome video! Most of your choices are my favorites too. Here are a few of my contemporary favorites:

    "Once upon a time, in a far-off land, I was kidnapped by a gang of fearless yet terrified young men with so much impossible hope beating inside their bodies it burned their very skin and strengthened their will right through their bones." – An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

    "The women in the river, singing." – Arcadia by Lauren Groff

    "My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist." – Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

  16. i also loove the first sentence of the sequal to the Hitchikers Guid, which is called The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, it starts as : 'In the beginning the Universe was created.This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

  17. This us a great idea for a video!!! My favorite is "I hope you are reading this Mark" from the Pendragon Series y DJ MacHale 🙂

  18. "It was a pleasure to burn." – Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury. I didn't love this book, but this is the best opening for me.

  19. I'm sure someone has mentioned this one, but the first sentence of The Secret History by Donna Tartt is wonderful. “The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.” 

    Right away it raises all sorts of questions like, "Who's Bunny?" and "How did he die?" That was the first Tartt book and I read and it made me fall in love with her writing. 

  20. 'It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.' Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve… still one of my favourite book series of all time… even though they're kids books

  21. Great collection! I adore first lines and believe Ann Patchett to be one of the best at creating memorable ones. For example:
    "When the lights went off the accompanist kissed her." -Bel Canto

  22. " listen, the sanctuary of redeemers is named after a damned lie. For there is no redemption that goes on there and less sanctuary."
    -the left hand of god
    I have it memorized because what kind of book starts with the word "listen" ?

  23. One of my favorite first sentences of all time is from 'Goodbye, Rebel Blue' by Shelley Coriell, and it goes something like, "The maker of inspirational cat posters should be put to death." XD

  24. My favourite – right now – is from Assassin's Creed: Black Flag by Oliver Bowden:
    "I cut off a man's nose once." 😀

  25. "Nin had never liked Wednesdays, but this one took the biscuit." From Seven Sorcerers by Caro King
    Is my favourite opening sentence, I read it 5 years ago but I still remember it, I really reccommend the book!

  26. i was in TK Maxx at the weekend and found the Penguine Classics version of Vanity Faire for £7, omg its such a beautiful book OuO

  27. Recently found your channel and I'm absolutely in love! I need a bit of help though, could you recommend some great books that would be good to recommend to guys?? My reading genres don't go too far from Romantic comedies and YA books (I'm working on branching out) so I'm useless at what guys would find an amazing book!! Something that would really wrap up the reader! thank you!!

  28. 'The man billed as Prospero the Enchanter receives a fair amount of correspondence via the theatre office, but this is the first envelope addressed to him that contains a suicide note, and it is also the first to arrive carefully pinned to the coat of a five-year-old girl.' –Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus. 

    Now I know this is the opening line for the first chapter and that the opening line for the prologue is 'The circus arrives without warning.' BUT I think it still counts. Besides, it's brilliant and needs to be shared. 

  29. My favourite first sentence is from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. "It is the first day of November, and so today, someone will die." It just hooks your attention straight away like nothing else. 

  30. My favourite first sentence is from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
    "Here is a small fact: You are going to die" (although I've seen someone put something else further down in the comments so now this seems irrelevant)
    It seems really morbid but when you realise the book is narrated by death himself, it's actually really fitting.

  31. The Hobbit
    "In a hole under the ground there lived a hobbit."

    Allegiant (Divergent #3)
    "I pace in our cell in Erudite headquarters, her words echoing in my mind: My name will be Edith Prior, and there is much I'm happy to forget."

    Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth
    "The last thing I wanted to do on my summer break was blow up another school."

    Nacht van Inkt
    "Het maanlicht viel op Elinors ochtendjas, op haar nachtjapon, haar blote voeten en de hond die voor haar op de grond lag."
    the moonlight fell on Elinors robe, on her night gown, her bare feet and the dog who lay before her on the ground

    Uglies
    "The early summer sky was the colour of cat vomit."

    Dorothy Must Die
    "I first discovered I was trash three days before my ninth birthday—one year after my father lost his job and moved to Secaucus to live with a woman named Crystal and four years before my mother had the car accident, started taking pills, and began exclusively wearing bedroom slippers instead of normal shoes."

    Het Victoriaanse Huis
    "Ik houd Charles Dickens verantwoordelijk voor de door van mijn vader."
    I hold Charles Dickens responsible for my fathers death

    .
    Here are a few first sentences of fairytales found in Grimm Tales by Philip Pullman

    The Frog King / Iron Heinrich
    "In the olden days, when wishing still worked, there lived a king, whose daughters were all beautiful; but the youngest daughter was so lovely that even the sun, who has seen many things, was struck with wonder every time he shone on her face."

    The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage
    "A mouse, a bird and a sausage decided to set up home together."
    This one, just because it sounds so ridiculous—it's almost like a joke;)

    The Two Travelling Companions
    "The mountain and the valley never meet, but the children of men, both good and bad, meet one another all the time."

    The Goose Girl at the Spring
    "Once upon a time there was a very old woman who lived with her flock of geese in a lonely place among the mountains, where her little house lay surrounded by a deep forest.

  32. I love the beginning of we were liars by e. Lockhart 
    "Welcome to the Sinclair family.
    No one is a criminal.
    No one is an addict.
    No one is a failure."

  33. My favorite book of all time is "Mistress of the Revolution" by Catherine Delors
    London, This 25th of January 1815
    I read this morning in the papers that the corpses of the late King and Queen of France, by order of their brother, the restored Louis the Eighteenth, were exhumed from their graves in the former graveyard of La Madeleine, which has since become a private garden.

    I love that in the first sentence you are placed into the time period, the scandal, the emotions and you get the sense that with the time thats passed people have made peace with the horrible events. But the writer has her reasons for digging up the past and its secrets.

  34. Love these !! I'd add the opening line from PG Wodehouse's  The Luck of the Bodkins : "Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to speak French."  😀

  35. It's two sentences, but still: "first the colours, then the humans, that's how I see things, or at least how I try. Here is a small fact: you are going to die. Markus Zusak, the book thief.

  36. I love the first sentences in Daphne (Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again) and Mrs.Dolloway (Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.)! They're both so capturing. 

  37. Mooie eerste zinnen. Ik vind zelf de eerste zin van 'Hersenschimmen' van J. Berlef ook heel erg mooi: "Misschien komt het door de sneeuw, dat ik me 's ochtends al zo moe voel."

  38. "The silence of snow, thought the man sitting just behind the bus driver. If this were the beginning of a poem, he would have called the thing he felt inside him the silence of snow"  – Snow, Orhan Pamuk
    And
    "It was the happiest moment of my life, though i didn't know it." – The Museum of Innocence, Orhan Pamuk.

  39. "The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say." The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness

  40. 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

  41. The way you talk English with so much confidence is to be jealous of! You're dutch right? I agree with all the first sentences btw and I also really like the first sentence of "will grayson, will grayson" 🙂

  42. "La première fois que je me vis dans un mirroir, je ris: je ne croyais pas que c'était moi. A présent, quand je regarde mon reflet, je ris: je sais que c'est moi. Et tant de hideur a quelque chose de drôle ."
    Attentat , Amélie Nothomb

  43. Reading Lolita now and it just makes my gut wrench, kind of like while you read out the Virgin Suicides

  44. "It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression 'As pretty as an airport.'" The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams

  45. "The sky was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel" – taken from Neuromancer by William Gibson.

  46. my favorite one so far is from a collection of short stories by a completly unknown author outside of my country and there is not even a single english translation.. i will do my best with it though. "The melody came from afar, along with the night breeze – one of those breaths born in the darkness of the summer's midnight, stealthily and quietly blowing from land to sea and resemble more airless Elves' passage rathen than wind, the God's air."

  47. Oh my god, you left out 'inkheart' by Cornelia Funke. "Rain fell that night, a fine, whispering rain. Many years later, Meggie had only to close her eyes and she could still hear it, like tiny fingers tapping on the windowpane." !!

  48. My favourite first line in a book is from The Gunslinger by Stephen King.
    “The Man in Black fled across the Desert, and the Gunslinger followed.”

  49. Gestures are all that I have; sometimes, they must be grand in nature. Garth Steins' The Art of Racing in the Rain

  50. "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 scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water." (War Of The Worlds)

  51. "Imagine that you have to break someone’s arm. Right or left, doesn’t matter. The point is that you have to break it, because if you don’t . . . well, that doesn’t matter either. " Hugh Laurie The Gun Seller

  52. "last night I dreamt I went to manderly again" -rebecca by Daphne dumaruier. you need to read this book sanne. it's it's a classic, you would love it.

  53. The classic: Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself…and; how can one forget?…the first line of A Tale Of Two Cities. (duh).

  54. “It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark little clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.” -The Big Sleep.

  55. "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." one line and it makes me feel all cozy and warm and i can't stop grinning ^^
    bonus: "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 to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

  56. I have to say my favorite is
    'The story so far:
    In the beginning the Universe was created.
    This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad
    move.'

  57. "the man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed"
    the dark tower book 1: the gunslinger by stephen king
    need say more?

  58. When Jane Austen says that a man of a large fortune must be in want of a wife I think what she really means is that there are many women wanting to marry a rich man.

  59. Hello Sanne! Here's my favorite first sentence:
    "Things started to fall apart at home when my brother, Jaja, did not go to communion and Papa flung his heavy missal across the room and broke the figurines on the etagere"
    – Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie because It's a reference to Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart which is about colonialism and oppression in Africa. Chimamanda has done a TedTalk on "The Danger of a Single Story" (which is INCREDIBLE, I highly recommend watching it) and her writing style is sooo beautiful and eloquent– there's nothing like it. I absolutely loved Purple Hibiscus and I think you would like it as well!

  60. The Maze Runner: ''He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.''

    The Foxhole Court: ''Neil Josten let his cigarette burn to the filter without taking a drag. He didn't want the nicotine; he wanted the acrid smoke that reminded him of his mother..''

    The Raven Boys: ''Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love. Her family traded in predictions. These predictions tended, however, to run toward the nonspecific.''

  61. Two favorites…

    “Someone must have made a false accusation against Josef K., for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong" Kafka

    “All this happened, more or less.” Vonnegut

  62. One more…

    “It’s a peculiar apparatus,” said the Officer to the Traveller, gazing with a certain admiration at the device, with which he was, of course, thoroughly familiar.“

    In The Penal Colony – Franz Kafka (1919)

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