The Opening Lines of Some of My Favorite Books and Stories

  1. Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
    It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.
  2. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
    Howard Roark laughed. He stood naked at the edge of a cliff.
  3. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
    To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.
  4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, JK Rowling
    Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
  5. Still Life With Woodpecker, Tom Robbins
    If this typewriter can’t do it, then fuck it, it can’t be done.
  6. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
    1801--I have just returned from a visit to my landlord--the solitary neighbor that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society. A perfect misanthropist's heaven: and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us.
  7. To Write Love On Her Arms, Jamie Tworkowski
    Pedro the Lion is loud in the speakers, and the city waits just outside our open windows. She sits and sings, legs crossed in the passenger seat, her pretty voice hiding in the volume. Music is a safe place and Pedro is her favorite. It hits me that she won’t see this skyline for several weeks, and we will be without her. I lean forward, knowing this will be written, and I ask what she’d say if her story had an audience. She smiles. “Tell them to look up. Tell them to remember the stars.”
  8. The BFG, Roald Dahl
    Sophie couldn’t sleep. A brilliant moonbeam was slanting through a gap in the curtains. It was shining right on her pillow…Perhaps, she told herself, this was what they called the witching hour. The witching hour, somebody had once whispered to her, was a special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world to themselves.
  9. Light in August, William Faulkner
    Sitting beside the road, watching the wagon mount the hill toward her, Lena thinks, “I have come from Alabama: a fur piece. All the way from Alabama a-walking. A fur piece.”
  10. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
    When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I saw her, it was the back of the head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it. Like a shiny, hard corn kernel or a riverbed fossil. She had what the Victorians would call a finely shaped head. You could imagine the skull quite easily.
  11. Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed
    Dear Johnny, the last word my mother ever said to me was “love.” She was so sick and weak and out of her head that she couldn't muster the “I” or the "you,” but it didn’t matter. That puny word has the power to stand on its own.
  12. The Depressed Person, David Foster Wallace
    The depressed person was in terrible and unceasing emotional pain, and the impossibility of sharing or articulating this pain was itself a component of the pain and a contributing factor in its essential horror.
  13. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers
    Through the small tall bathroom window the December yard is gray and scratchy, the trees calligraphic. Exhaust from the dryer billows out of the house and up, breaking apart while tumbling into the white sky. The house is a factory. I put my pants on and go back to my mother.
  14. Play It As It Lays, Joan Didion
    What makes Iago evil? some people ask. I never ask.