let's get the seven lines. (bookshop) wrote,
let's get the seven lines.

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Today is Tuesday.

Here are the first lines of ten random books from my shelves that I haven't read yet.

1. Part of the problem, Nita thought as she tore desperately down Rose Avenue, is that I can't keep my mouth shut.

2. A history of the Six Duchies is of necessity a history of its ruling family, the Farseers.

3. I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.

4. Only the tiniest dappling of light from the street lamp ghosts through the tree canopy here - just enough to see what's what.

5. One night when she was four and sleeping in the bottom bunk of her bunk bed, Ruth Cole woke to the sound of lovemaking - it was coming from her parents' bedroom.

6. My nightmare started like this.

7. I don't like the way he's looking at me.

8. "The Bottoms" succeeded to "Hell Row."

9. On a morning in mid-April, 1687, the brigantine Dolphin left the open sea, sailed briskly across the Sound to the wide mouth of the Connecticut River and into Saybrook harbor.

10. The Hegemony Consul sat on the balcony of his ebony spaceship and played Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-sharp Minor on an ancient but well-maintained Steinway while great, green, saurian things surged and bellowed in the swamps below.


Which of these first lines are your favorites? Which make you want to read more? Which do you think give away their genre? Are there any you think are misleading?

I'm thinking more generally about the function of first lines: how some first lines draw us in, how some serve as announcements, "this is a book about x", and some serve as barely-there lead-ins to things to come. Are the lines above effective? Do they make you wonder: then what?

What are your favorite first lines? I think my favorite is ever and always, "When he was thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow." It's such a powerful first line because you're immediately wondering what happened to break the arm, but by the time you're all the way through the events of To Kill a Mockingbird you've completely forgotten about Jem's elbow, and so when he breaks it at last it's something of a shock to remember: the whole book started out that way, with something that simple. I love that first line. It's so deceptive, so quiet, so unforgettable.

Feel free to guess at the books and authors if you like. Oh, and tell me: which one should I read next? :)
Tags: books

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