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?