22 Of The Best Opening Lines From Books

by Vincent Salera 07 Oct 2017

1. “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure.”
—The Stranger by Albert Camus

2. “What makes Iago evil? some people ask. I never ask.”
—Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion

3. “I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won’t bother to talk about, except it had something to do with the miserably weary split-up and my feeling that everything was dead.”
—On the Road by Jack Kerouac

4. “Once upon a time, in a far-off land, I was kidnapped by a gang of fearless yet terrified young men with so much impossible hope beating inside their bodies it burned their very skin and strengthened their will right through their bones.”
—An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

5. “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.”
—Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

6. “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stair head, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”
—Ulysses by James Joyce

7. “He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.”
—Orlando by Virginia Woolf

8. “Everyone had always said that John would be a preacher when he grew up, just like his father. It had been said so often that John, without ever thinking about it, had come to believe it himself.”
—Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin

9. “The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.”
—The Gunslinger by Stephen King

10. “Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French.”
—The Luck of the Bodkins by PG Wodehouse

11. “Quiet as it’s kept, there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941.”
—The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

12. “With a strength born of the decision that had just come to her in the middle of the night, Avery Johnson forced the suitcase shut on the clothes piled inside and slid the lock in place.”
—Praisesong for the Widow by Paule Marshall

13. “It was a pleasure to burn.”
—Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

14. “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.'”
—The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

15. “One day, I was already old, in the entrance of a public place a man came up to me.”
—The Lover by Marguerite Duras

16. “Our hero was not one of those Dominican cats everybody’s always going on about—he wasn’t no home-runner hitter or fly bachetero, not a playboy with a million hots on his jock.”
—The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

17. “The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.”
—Murphy by Samuel Beckett

18. “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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
—A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

19. “We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.”
—The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

20. “Quietly, like a shadow, I watch this drama unfold scene by scene. I am the lucid one here, the dangerous one, and nobody suspects.”
—Love, Anger, Madness: A Haitian Triptych by Marie Vieux-Chauvet

21. “It began the usual way, in the bathroom of the Lassimo Hotel.”
—A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

22. “One day, I was already old, in the entrance of a public place a man came up to me.”
—The Lover by Marguerite Duras

Vincent Salera

Founder CEO/CCO @ World's Best Story™ amplifier of creativity & fun!