Ten on Tuesday | Opening Lines.

Carole’s idea for today was about opening lines of books. She suggested we write ten of our own, or choose ten favorites. I did neither. Instead, I decided to revisit the opening lines of ten of my favorite books. which of course entailed revisiting my favorite books (and, ahem, a bit of re-shelving). I was surprised to see that, with just a couple of exceptions, these openers aren’t really all that memorable. In case you’re in for a bit of fun, I listed the books and authors at the bottom of the post. Can you guess the titles from the opening lines?

1. When they write my obituary.

2. Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

3. Mr. & Mrs. Dursling, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

4. I go down to the shore in the morning and depending on the hour the waves are rolling in or moving out, and I say, oh, I am miserable, what shall — what should I do?

5. A fug of tobacco smoke and damp clammy air hit her as the she entered the café.

6. In 1980, a year after my wife leapt to her death from the Silas Pearlman Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina, I moved to Italy to being life anew, taking our small daughter with me.

7. The circus arrives without warning.

8. I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice — not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.

9. Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

10. There he is, three days after his fifth birthday, standing barefoot upon wet summer grass.

and of course today was a Charlie day. I’d intended to include the first line from whatever book we read most often. But instead, it really makes sense to include the last line.

at naptime

This is The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. It’s wonderful. I teared up on the first reading. and didn’t hate it after the sixth.

Looking forward to seeing what everyone else has done with this prompt. and to what surprises (or not) you found with my list. Happy reading!

If you’re not already playing along with Carole’s Ten on Tuesday fun, click here to join.

1. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
2. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (this one isn’t on my favorites shelf, but the last one is…and it only felt right to use the first line from the first one)
4. A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver
5. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
6. Beach Music by Pat Conroy
7. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
8. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
9. Emma by Jane Austen
10. Forever by Pete Hamill

8 thoughts on “Ten on Tuesday | Opening Lines.

  1. Your point about our favorite books not necessarily having intriguing opening lines is a good one that I hadn't really considered with this ToT topic. The real skill for an author is in maintaining plot, language, and interest throughout the novel, not just one line! I just watched The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore on youtube and it's wonderful. Thanks for keeping me up to date with picture books; I miss them!

  2. Your list is intriguing and I've read a few titles: Emma; Rebecca; Have yet to read Harry Potter…Mary Oliver is definitely on my list. Hope you'll share the matchup…Fun and love Charlie's photo.Cheers~

  3. I'm going to be looking at #6 and #10, thank-you and A Prayer for Owen Meany is one of my brothers favorites. I really should get to that too!

  4. I've read every single one of those books (and remembered the first lines when I say them again) – except for #10. :-)(And I adore The Fantastic Flying Books! Great book. I could've read it to my own kids over and over again . . . had it been written when they were little.)

  5. I've also read all the books on your list, save #10 and I remember most of the opening lines, but not all. I discarded a couple of my favorite books as the first lines were too long, or too short. Also, I agree with Bonny as many first lines just don't grab you the way the first paragraph does. That's my criteria, in any case. This was a fun topic!

Comments are closed.