Along with occasionally judging books by their covers, I'm also guilty of judging books by their opening lines. When I'm perusing the local book shop for a new read, I often go to where my eye draws me. (I know, this goes against everything you were taught as a kid, and yet, I still do it.) Then I read the first line of the book. In my humble opinion, it's important to find books you'll be obsessed with from the first line. These books grab your attention and hook you right away, indicating that the rest of the book will be just as amazing and keep you entertained till the final word.
Just like you were taught in your middle school English class, starting your story with an attention getter is the best way to go. Otherwise, who's going to be interested in reading the rest of the tale? No matter what genre you're into, these authors have got the idea of opening intrigue down to a science. From dramatic, to hilarious, to intriguing, and everything in between — the books on this list are sure to draw you in from the very first words, and keep you turning the pages until you finish them up.
1. 'Where'd You Go Bernadette' by Maria Semple
First Line: “The first annoying thing is when I ask Dad what he thinks happened to Mom, he always says, ‘What’s most important is for you to understand it’s not your fault.’”
When Bee's agoraphobic mother disappears, she's left to put together the pieces of the puzzle to find her. Where'd You Bernadette is a tour de force that will leave you laughing, and loving the world of the Fox family.
2. 'Just Kids' by Patti Smith
First Line: “I was asleep when he died.”
In this personal tale of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, Smith takes readers on an adventure through love and friendship, and stuns readers with her lyrical prose in Just Kids.
3. 'Gold Fame Citrust' by Claire Vaye Watkins
First Line: “Punting the prairie dog into the library was a mistake.”
In Gold Fame Citrus, Watkins presents a mind-blowing original tale of hope, myth, and love. The want for a better future powers this moving novel, something everyone can appreciate.
4. 'Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas' by Hunter S. Thompson
First Line: "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold."
A drug-addled tale of a road-trip gone awry, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas is a must-read for anyone who enjoys an outrageous tale.
5. 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' by Seth Grahame-Smith
First Line: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”
The first line of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is so good, because it mirrors the original Pride and Prejudice the original's first line: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” So. Good.
6. 'Wildwood' by Colin Meloy
First Line: “How five crows managed to lift a twenty-pound baby boy into the air was beyond Prue, but that was certainly the least of her worries.”
When Prue and her friend Curtis discover a secret world, their lives change. Told from multiple points of view, with beautiful color illustrations throughout, Wildwood feels like an immediate classic.
7. 'Middlesex' by Jeffrey Eugenides
First Line: "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."
This opening line appeals to me on a very personal level, because I am from Petoskey, and I now live in Detroit. Beyond that, Middlesex presents a brilliant tale of family secrets, genetic history, and prohibition-era Detroit.
8. 'Choke' by Chuck Palahniuk
First Line: "If you're going to read this, don't bother."
Victor Mancini, med-school dropout, has devised a scheme where he pretends to choke at upscale restaurants, and receives all sorts of benefits from the patrons who "save" him. Choke is a fast-paced and slightly deranged tale that'll keep you turning the pages.
9. 'The Princess Bride' by William Goldman
First Line: “This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.”
Though many have seen the film based on the book, not many have read the actual book. The ingenious storytelling of The Princess Bride leaves no reader disappointed, you may even find you love it more than the movie.
10. 'The Bell Jar' by Sylvia Plath
First Line: “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”
Masterfully portraying the breakdown of a young girl, The Bell Jar provides a dark look into the past, yet mirrors so much of what you find in society today. Harrowing and intense, this classic is not to be missed.
11. 'The Martian' by Andy Weir
First Line: "I'm pretty much f**ked."
From beginning to end, The Martian leaves readers laughing, concerned, and shaking their heads, all at the same time. Scientific and witty, this book appeals to all readers, even those who don't want anything to do with another astronaut story.
12. 'Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children' by Ransom Riggs
First Line: “I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.”
A twisting tale of phenomenal children, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a book that both children and adults will love, finding an exciting turn with every page.
13. 'Girl At War' by Sara Nović
First Line: “The war in Zagreb began over a pack of cigarettes.”
Girl At War tells the story of Ana, growing up in the war zone of Croatia in the '90s. She finds her way, but even as student in Manhattan years later, she struggles to cope with the memories of her past.
14. 'An Untamed State' by Roxane Gay
First Line: “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.”
Kidnapped for ransom, the well-off Mireille Duval Jameson is suddenly thrust into a world opposite her own. An Untamed State shares a world of poverty and privilege, redemption, and recovery.
15. 'The Secret History' by Donna Tartt
First Line: “The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we understood the gravity of our situation.”
A group of misfits find their way together at a New England college in The Secret History, and their lives are forever changed. When their morals come into question, they find themselves struggling with how difficult it is to live, and how easy it is to kill.