Friday's Top Ten

The unofficial top ten first lines of novels:

10. It was a dark and stormy night.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  9. I am an invisible man.
Ralph Ellison

  8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
George Orwell

  7. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....
Charles Dickens

  6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy

  5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.
Vladimir Nabokov

  4.It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Jane Austen

  3. Call me Ishmael.
Herman Melville

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

And the unofficial #1 first line of a novel:

  1. The sun didn't shine, it was too wet to play, so we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day.
Dr. Seuss


Dr. Seuss!
I always liked the first line of A Christmas Carol. "Marley was dead, to begin with." Grisly start and it breaks a grammar rule right out of the gate.
Loved your list , this is the first line of CassaStar: Straightening his jacket, Bassa adjusted the fall of the heavy fabric across his chest.

JoLynne Lyon said…
Love those, especially number 6 and number 4.
Linda Kage said…
LOVE IT!! I remember most of those lines too. You know, I can remember great first lines, but I have never remembered the last line of a book before. Hmm. And YES, I have finished reading a book before, dang it, lol!
Julie said…
Oh, I love this list! Love all of them, but I think #8 is my favorite. I find that line so chilling.

Hope you have a great weekend ahead, Carol! :)
Carol Kilgore said…
I've tried to comment on Wednesday's blog, and Blogger isn't letting me. This is a test to see if I can comment here. If it goes through, Medeia - I agree with you about gardens being peaceful places.
Anonymous said…
All good ones. Here's another...."Certain houses, like certain persons, manage somehow to proclaim at once their character for evil." The Empty House/Algernon Blackwood.
Carol Kilgore said…
Well, how weird. But yea!

Alex - Poor Marley :)

Yvonne - Ah, yes. I recall that line!

JoLynne - I'm not a huge fan of Jane Austen, but I do love that opening line.

Linda K - Mostly I can't remember the lines, but when I read them elsewhere, I do recall them. And sometimes which book/author they belong to.

Julie - I find that line chilling, too.
Yep! I love em all!! My favourite is "Call me Ishmael" So simple...
I spend days trying to figure out a line that good for my stories but never come close...
Slamdunk said…
Good choices Carol. YOur #7 was the first thing that jumped into my head.
LR said…
I love the Ishmael one, too. :)

Hope you're not having comment troubles like I (still) am. ;)
Laura Eno said…
Dr Seuss had the right of it! Have a great weekend!
Clarissa Draper said…
Great lines! Some of them I haven't heard before.
Carol Kilgore said…
Delores - I haven't read that line before, but I agree with it.

Pat - I always try for a great opening line, too. I'm never satisfied with the results.

Slamdunk - Good old Dickens!

LR - Sorry to hear you're still having woes. I kept getting a Blogger error message - and it's my own blog - LOL.

Laura - LOVE Dr. Seuss :)

Clarissa - I'm guessing The Invisible Man one?
Austen's is pretty droll! Love it. In fact, these are all great choices.
Liza said…
I love first lines. How about this one: "In all your life, only a few moments matter." That's from Faithful Place, by Tana Welch. I found it in the library today...yea! (see blog for details!)
Emily R. King said…
Awesome. I knew most of these without reading the author's name. *Patting myself on the back* :D
J.L. Campbell said…
These are truly classic, in the sense that they're simple, direct sentences. Well, except for Austen's.
Carol Kilgore said…
Elizabeth - Yet only two of these were in the top ten of every "official" list I looked at. And two were not on any of those lists. That was not planned :)

Liza - Ah, I have been to your blog. And I am going to look for her work.

Emily - Cool! If I had a prize, you'd win :)

J.L. - Jane enjoyed being different :)
Anonymous said…
Dr. Seuss is classic! Love the Harry Potter line. Fire of my loins? Wow! Gotta go with Best of times, it was the worst of times.
So that's who originally wrote "It was a dark and stormy night"!

Hope you have a great weekend. :)
Carol Kilgore said…
Stephen - Ol' Charlie Dickens strikes again :)

Golden Eagle - The one and only, LOL!
Linda G. said…
Oh, I like your choices! Very nice Top Ten. :)
Anita Chapman said…
Hi Carol,
I really like the photo at the top of your blog-will have to click in every now and again so can picture I'm there! You have three of my favourites in your top 10-Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and George Orwell. Brilliant opening lines. The Jane Austen one is particularly clever in the way it sums up the whole plot I think.
Dr. Seuss stole the show!
Carol Kilgore said…
Anita - Click over anytime. It's a wonderful place :)

Julie - Yea! Great lines can be for kids, too :)
Talli Roland said…
Love that one by Ellison. Talk about jumping into a story!
Ciara said…
To write an opening line that people talk about for decades. :) I can dream. Great choices!
Carol Kilgore said…
Talli - Right into the deep end of the pool :)

Ciara - I think they're so good because all encapsulate the essence of the entire story.
Anonymous said…
These are great first lines. I've read many of these, but I'm forgetful with them. It's nice to see them listed.

Have a great week.
Carol Kilgore said…
Medeia - Glad you enjoyed them in one spot :)