It takes a while to warm up to some books, but then there plenty of books that'l have you hooked from the first line, drawing you in with statements that are confounding, shocking, or simply intriguing. And with stories that are interesting enough to match their opening lines, these are books you won’t be able to put down any time soon.
These books excel at making great first impressions. Whether making sweeping statements about death, an exploding grandmother (!), or rich men who want wives, these stories reel in readers right away. After all, who wouldn’t want to know more about the clocks that strike 13:00?
So even if your attention span is kind of shot in the age of Facebook notifications and constant texting, these books can still command your focus. For a few hours or so, you probably won’t be able to think of much else until you learn more about the tantalizing thing hinted at in the opening line. So if you’re casting about for a fresh read, consider any of these books. And if you lose a whole afternoon to reading when you just meant to have a quick peek at the first chapter: that’s okay too. The stories just draw you in! These authors are sneaky like that.
1. 'Pride And Prejudice'
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Thus begins the story that turned countless readers into devoted Janeites. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice starts strong with this teasing line about a rich man, foreshadowing the flurry of activity that followed his arrival in Elizabeth Bennet's neighborhood.
2. The Crow Road
It was the day my grandmother exploded.
This attention-grabbing line sets the stage for Iain M. Banks' The Crow Road, a dark humor novel that covers the topics of drinking, death, family, and Scotland. Following Prentice McHoan's return from university for a funeral, the story includes a great deal of humor and even some elements of mystery.
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
George Orwell's 1984 starts off by telling readers that something is implicitly wrong in this world, setting the scene for a place where Big Brother is watching and thinking too much is a crime. If this one was somehow left off of your high school's summer reading list, it is well worth a visit now.
4. 'Everything I Never Told You'
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng follows one Chinese American family's struggle to deal with the death of their beloved daughter. Greater themes about identity, family secrets, and perfectionism are touched on as the truth of Lydia's death comes to light.
5. 'The Last Anniversary'
Do you really think we can get away with it?
Liane Moriarty's The Last Anniversary begins with this intriguing question. The fast-paced story follows Sophie Honeywell as she joins an unconventional family living in a place called Scribbly Gum Island.
6. 'The Book Thief'
***HERE IS A SMALL FACT*** You are going to die.
Although it's not the very first sentence in The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, this striking line is certainly an attention-grabbing portion of the prologue. It's the perfect setup to the story of Liesel Meminger, the foster girl who steals books to share with her friends in 1939 Germany.
7. 'No Country For Old Men'
I sent one boy to the gas chamber at Huntsville. One and only one.
No one would accuse Cormac McCarthy of being too soft on his characters, and No Country for Old Men is no exception. In a border town, Llewellyn Moss happens upon a couple of million dollars in drug money, and by taking it triggers a wave of violence.
8. 'Back When We Were Grownups'
Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.
Anne Tyler's Back When We Were Grownups follows Rebecca Davitch, a 53-year-old grandmother and business owner who seems to have it all. So why does she feel like an impostor in her own life?
9. 'The Blind Assassin'
Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.
Margaret Atwood launches into The Blind Assassin with this glib mention of death. But the story, which turns into a science fiction novel-within-a-novel, is anything but straightforward.
10. 'A Life In Men'
Pretend I'm not already dead.
A Life In Men by Gina Frangell profiles the friendship between Mary and Nix, as well as the vacation to Greece that seemingly ended their connection. In the wake of her friend's death, Mary retraces their long-ago trip to learn more about men, friendship, and adventure.
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.
Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex is a tale of the American dream, the mysteries of genetics, and a hermaphrodite's complicated coming-of-age story. With so many complex and compelling story lines, this book provides one of the most unique perspectives in contemporary fiction.