104 Famous Novels With Catchy First Lines Books
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104 Famous Novels With Catchy First Lines

List Criteria: Novels that have often quoted first lines or opening sentences that are otherwise in the cultural zeitgeist. Vote up the most memorable.

The opening lines of a novel can prove crucial, and many authors spend an inordinate amount of time considering how their books will begin. From Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities to Melville's Moby Dick, often the opening sentence or two of a book will become the most frequently quoted and iconic passage from the entire novel. This list has the best novels with great first lines, bound to make the best impression on readers. 

These books of fiction are well known for their opening lines. The authors know that books don't just need a great story, there also needs to be something that draws in the reader. The opening line is that hook and the books on this list all have intriguing, interesting, and unique opening sentences.

This is a list of the greatest novels with the best introductory text, including world literature (with an emphasis on English literature), from throughout history, with the most memorable and significant beginnings. Vote up the most memorable first lines from fiction below.

Soure: American Book Review

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  1. 1
    + 214
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    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

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    Author: Charles Dickens
    First Published: 1859
    Subjects: Literary, French Revolution, Revenge, English Language, German Language + 14 more
    Genres (Book): Fiction, Novel, Historical novel, Social criticism
    Original Language: English Language
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  2. 2
    + 178
    - 39

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

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    Author: George Orwell
    First Published: 1949-06-08
    Subjects: Brainwashing, Literature, Classics, English Language, English Literature + 3 more
    Genres (Book): Utopian and dystopian fiction, Social science fiction, Political fiction
    Original Language: English Language
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  3. 3
    + 161
    - 36

    It was a pleasure to burn.

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    Author: Ray Bradbury
    First Published: 1953
    Subjects: Bibliophilia, American science fiction, Literature, Book burning, Classics + 5 more
    Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Utopian and dystopian fiction, Children's literature, Dystopia, Fiction + 1 more
    Original Language: English Language
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  4. 4
    + 140
    - 30

    All this happened, more or less.

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    Author: Kurt Vonnegut
    First Published: 1969
    Subjects: Literary, American science fiction, Classics, Prisoner of war, World War II
    Genres (Book): Philosophy, Speculative fiction, War novel, Black comedy, Fiction + 2 more
    Original Language: English Language
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  5. 5
    + 152
    - 37

    Call me Ishmael.

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    Author: Herman Melville
    First Published: 1851-10-18
    Subjects: Whaling, Popular literature, Literary, Education, Literature + 6 more
    Genres (Book): Fiction, Sea story, Adventure fiction
    Original Language: English Language
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  6. 6
    + 128
    - 37

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

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    Author: Leo Tolstoy
    First Published: 1877
    Subjects: Music, Upper class, Literature, Russia, Adultery
    Genres (Book): Literary realism, Novel
    Original Language: Russian Language
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