it was acceptable in the 80s (leitao) wrote in ohnotheydidnt,
it was acceptable in the 80s

20 Classic Opening Lines In Books (According to Entertainment Weekly)

20. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (2008), by Neil Gaiman

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."

19. PARADISE (1999), Toni Morrison

"They shoot the white girl first."


"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."

17. MIDDLESEX (2002), Jeffrey Eugenides

"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."

16. A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT (1989), Norman Maclean

"In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly-fishing."

15. NEUROMANCER (1984), William Gibson

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

14. THE COLOR PURPLE (1981), Alice Walker

"You better not never tell nobody but God."

13. A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES (1980), John Kennedy Toole

"A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head."

12. HIGH-RISE (1977), J.G. Ballard

"Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months."

11. GRAVITY'S RAINBOW (1973), Thomas Pynchon

"A screaming comes across the sky."

On to the top 10 . . .

10. FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS (1971), Hunter S. Thompson

"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold."

9. ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE (1967), 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."

8. THE BELL JAR (1963), Sylvia Plath

"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."

7. FAHRENHEIT 451 (1953), Ray Bradbury

"It was a pleasure to burn."

6. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE (1951), J.D. Salinger

"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."


"You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain't no matter."

4. ANNA KARENINA (1877), Leo Tolstoy

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

3. A TALE OF TWO CITIES (1859), Charles Dickens

"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."

2. MOBY-DICK (1851), Herman Melville

"Call me Ishmael."

1. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1813), Jane Austen

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

Source -

What are your favorite first lines (or favorite lines in general), ONTD? What did this list miss? I think they should have included Peter Pan's opener: "All children, except one, grow up." Pretty classic. :)
Tags: books / authors, list

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