What makes you decide to read a certain book? Is it the cover (whether or not you should judge a book by its cover, many do), the flap copy, a friend’s recommendation, familiarity with the author? Something else?
Friends’ recommendations are important to me, and sometimes I’ll look at reviews as well. I always read the flap copy (on the back of a paperback or the inside front flap of a hardcover), but often what clinches it is the first sentence. Am I hooked after the first sentence? After the first page? I figure the author must put as much or equal thought and effort into the first sentence as any other in the book, the first sentence being the equivalent of a first impression.
Here are a few memorable first sentences:
“Leon Trotsky is trying to kill me.” -The Autobiography of Joseph Stalin: A Novel, Richard Lourie
“I had this friend, you see, that everyone loved.
(My name is Sid Halley.)
I had this friend that everyone loved, and I put him on trial.” -Come to Grief, Dick Francis
“It was a dark and stormy night.” -A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
“Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen.” -The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman
“If you are not here, then why are you everywhere?” -Love Begins in Winter, Simon Van Booy (epigraph)
What are your favorite beginnings, most memorable first sentences?