We give a particular book a second look for a number of reasons: the dust jacket, the inside cover, the author, the title, we read about it, it won awards, etc. But, especially in fiction, the first sentence is likely to draw us into the story. We hear a voice and we want to hear more. We start the read with enthusiasm if we are caught by that first line.

Here are some first lines in no particular order. What do you think? Do you have a favorite from this list?

“Picture a late-June morning in 1918, a time when Montgomery wore her prettiest spring dress and finest floral perfume––same as I would wear that evening.”
Z A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

“Later he would tell her that their story began at the Royal Hungarian Opera House, the night before he left for Paris on the Western Europe Express.”
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

“His face was as pitted as the moon.”
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

“Small trees had attacked my parents’ house at the foundation.”
The Round House by Louise Erdrich

“The morning ripened slowly, ten o’clock felt like noon.”
Driftless by David Rhodes

“Princeton, in the summer, smelled of nothing, and although Ifemelu liked the tranquil greenness of the many trees, the clean streets and stately homes, the delicately overpriced shops, and the quiet abiding air of earned grace, it was this, the lack of smell, that most appealed to her, perhaps because the other American cities she knew well had all smelled distinctly.”
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Everyone had their own job to do on the Ryans’ farm in Stoney-bridge.”
A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

“Beth is alone in her house, listening to the storm, wondering what to do next.”
Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

“I lived when I was young at the end of a long road, or a road that seemed long to me.”
“Dear Life” in Dear Life Stories by Alice Munro

“The house where my father’s parents, Dorie and Marce Catlett, spent their long marriage was not a happy one, though I was often happy in it.”
“Misery” in A Place in Time by Wendell Berry.

Do you have a first line you’d like to add to this collection? Maybe, one of these first lines will draw you to a book. All of these books have been published in the last year or two. Waiting to hear you comment……


  1. Debi

    I agree! The first line of a book is critical. It draws the reader in immediately and that’s critical…plus it adds to the fun factor of reading.

  2. Judith Vitali

    funny … the first line from Driftless is what made me select the book … love the first line from Dear Life

    one of my favorite openings is … First the colors.
    Then the humans.
    That’s usually how I see things.
    Or at least, how I try.
    The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak also ended up being one of my favorite books


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