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Thread: You Had Me At The First Line

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    Anarchist AJane's Avatar
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    You Had Me At The First Line

    I just read a great article on Huff Post with this title and thought it might be fun for Fort book geeks to chime in here.

    You Had Me at the First Line--10 First Lines to Hook You*|*Kimberlie I. Leon

    A first impression goes a long way. That's true with people, and I think it's also true with books. When I'm choosing a new book, once I get past the title and the author, it's the first line--or first few lines--that make the decision for me. It's that handful of words, so carefully, and at times, so powerfully strung together, that hook me (or not) to make a lasting impression and get me reading.

    As I started to think more about the power of first lines, I turned to my trusty bookshelf. Pulling out different books and flipping to the first pages, I wanted to remember what it was that got me hooked on a certain book.
    The author picked a top 10, and the comments section below the HP article has many great suggestions - the Pride and Prejudice one is definitely one of my picks. Hard to pick a favourite but I'll go with Herman Wouk's Marjorie Morningstar for a start:

    Customs of courtship vary greatly in different times and places, but the way things happen to be done here and now always seems the only natural way to do it.
    All my life, I have felt destiny tugging at my sleeve.~ Thursday Next
    I don't want to "go with the flow". The flow just washes you down the drain. I want to fight the flow.- Henry Rollins
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  2. #2
    Best Buddies Gutmutter's Avatar
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    Re: You Had Me At The First Line

    The people slamming "Twilight" missed the point of the article. It's about great first lines, not whether the book is great.
    Thanks for sharing!
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    8/2/64 until forever! AZChristian's Avatar
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    Re: You Had Me At The First Line

    Classic favorite: "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again." (Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier)

    The last line is as good, "And the ashes and the salt wind blew towards us from the sea."
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    Best Ever Pool Runner Angry Birds Champion, Rancho Ice Racer Champion pikachu's Avatar
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    Re: You Had Me At The First Line

    To be honest, I never notice the first line of a book much. I choose books to read based on author and subject. I don't even check out the first line before getting the book.

    I also don't read the end of a book first. I've known people who do that because they want to know what happens but that's exactly why I DON'T skip to the end. I want it to be surprise when I get there from the beginning!
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    Time to Come Back, Boys Arielflies's Avatar
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    Re: You Had Me At The First Line

    This may be lame and not profound, but the first line of the first book of the Harry Potter series caught my attention. The tone of it drew me into the writer's world immediately.

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

    From that I caught the writer's cheekiness and the idea that maybe something wasn't normal - at least according to the Dursleys. From that line I went into obsession.
    The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. Dorothy Parker, (attributed)

  6. #6
    8/2/64 until forever! AZChristian's Avatar
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    Re: You Had Me At The First Line

    Quote Originally Posted by Arielflies View Post
    This may be lame and not profound, but the first line of the first book of the Harry Potter series caught my attention. The tone of it drew me into the writer's world immediately.

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

    From that I caught the writer's cheekiness and the idea that maybe something wasn't normal - at least according to the Dursleys. From that line I went into obsession.
    I almost quoted that, too, Arielflies. I never read one word of a Harry Potter book until Deathly Hallows hit the stores. Then I bought Sorcerer's Stone because it was in paperback, and I figured if I hated it, I was only out $5. I was about 30 pages into it when I looked at hubby and said, "Could you run up to Sam's Club and get me the 6 other Harry Potter books? I'm hooked.

    And my obsession continues until this day.
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    Best Ever Pool Runner Angry Birds Champion, Rancho Ice Racer Champion pikachu's Avatar
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    Re: You Had Me At The First Line

    Haha, I did the same thing, AZ! I didn't start reading the books until I saw the first movie. I liked it so much, I went out and bought all the available books in the series. It was up to the Prisoner of Azkaban by then. I anxiously awaited the release of the subsequent books. I'm kind of glad I got into it late in the series so I could read so many books in one shot. It must have been torture for people who got hooked on the first book and had to wait for all the rest to come out.
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    Teach your children Uncle David's Avatar
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    Re: You Had Me At The First Line

    Really?! Those are the ten first lines that jump to mind?! "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom..." never came up?
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    FORT Fogey
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    Re: You Had Me At The First Line

    I have to agree with Uncle David. That list provokes an interesting discussion, but I think the writer's picks are a bit limited. In a discussion of incredible book openings, my mind always goes to The Lovely Bones. While I'll admit it was really the second sentence that sucked me in, when I read the opening paragraph in a book store, I was totally focused on clearing my time and finishing the book I was reading so Icould dive into it immediately - “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen
    when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. In newspaper photos of
    missing girls from the seventies, most looked like me: white girls with
    mousy brown hair. This was before kids of all races and genders
    started appearing on milk cartons or in the daily mail. It was still back
    when people believed things like that didn’t happen.”
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    Best Buddies Gutmutter's Avatar
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    Re: You Had Me At The First Line

    My daughter told me her new husband got her the boxed set of Harry Potter books (even though she has tattered individual books in my attic) and because they've been together the same number of years as there are books, he put a corresponding photo of them together for each year in the front of each book with a written list of highlights from their life that year. Awwwwww!
    On topic: "The taxi, an old Rover smelling of old cigarette smoke, trundled along the empty, country road at an unhurried pace." First line of The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. I read it every year.
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