104 Famous Novels With Catchy First Lines Books
+Vote List
by  tags 5,183 votes 671 voters 209,951 views 107 items f p @

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

L The List
B Comments
& Embed
G Options
  1. 1
    + 217
    - 29

    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.

    more ABOUT
    • 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
    buy at  
  2. 2
    + 180
    - 40

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

    more ABOUT
    • 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
    buy at  
  3. 3
    + 164
    - 37

    It was a pleasure to burn.

    more ABOUT
    • 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
    buy at  
  4. 4
    + 140
    - 31

    All this happened, more or less.

    more ABOUT
    • 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
    buy at  
  5. 5
    + 153
    - 39

    Call me Ishmael.

    more ABOUT
    • 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
    buy at  
  6. 6
    + 132
    - 37

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

    more ABOUT
    • Author: Leo Tolstoy
    • First Published: 1877
    • Subjects: Music, Upper class, Literature, Russia, Adultery
    • Genres (Book): Literary realism, Novel
    • Original Language: Russian Language
    buy at  
  7. 7
    + 85
    - 25

    Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.

    more ABOUT
    • Author: Miguel de Cervantes
    • First Published: 1605
    • Subjects: Music, 16th century, Literary, Literature, Classics + 7 more
    • Genres (Book): Picaresque novel, Satire, Farce, Parody
    • Original Language: Old Spanish language, Spanish Language
    buy at  
  8. 8
    + 103
    - 38

    Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.

    more ABOUT
    • Author: Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov
    • First Published: 1955
    • Subjects: Literary, Literature, Classics, Drama, Erotica + 3 more
    • Genres (Book): Romance novel, Tragicomedy, Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language, Russian Language
    buy at  
  9. 9
    + 126
    - 52

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

    more ABOUT
    • Author: Jane Austen
    • First Published: 1813-01-28
    • Subjects: Popular literature, Literary, Education, 19th century, English Language + 11 more
    • Genres (Book): Romance novel, Satire, Novel of manners, Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
    buy at  
  10. 10
    + 71
    - 22

    It was love at first sight.

    more ABOUT
    • Author: Joseph Heller
    • First Published: 1961-11-11
    • Subjects: Drama, World War II
    • Genres (Book): War novel, Black comedy, Satire, Historical fiction, Absurdist fiction + 1 more
    • Original Language: American English, English Language
    buy at  
  11. 11
    + 75
    - 30

    You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter.

    more ABOUT
    • Author: Mark Twain
    • First Published: 1884-12
    • Subjects: Popular literature, Education, 19th century, Slavery, Mississippi River + 10 more
    • Genres (Book): Humour, Satire, Children's literature, Fiction, Adventure fiction
    • Original Language: English Language
    buy at  
  12. 12
    + 42
    - 9

    In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or eat: It was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

    more ABOUT
    • Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
    • First Published: 1937-09-21
    • Subjects: Wizards, Literary, Epic film, Literature, Classics + 3 more
    • Genres (Book): Children's literature, Fiction, Epic, Fantasy
    • Original Language: English Language
    buy at  
  13. 13
    + 72
    - 31

    There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.

    more ABOUT
    • Author: C. S. Lewis
    • First Published: 1952-09-15
    • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Children's literature, Fantasy
    • Original Language: English Language
    buy at  
  14. 14
    + 63
    - 25

    It was the day my grandmother exploded.

    more ABOUT
    • Author: Iain Banks
    • First Published: 1992
    • Subjects: Scotland
    • Genres (Book): Suspense, Mystery, Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
    buy at  
  15. 15
    + 61
    - 24

    I am an invisible man.

    more ABOUT
    • Author: Ralph Ellison
    • First Published: 1952
    • Subjects: Literary, Literature, Classics, United States of America, Places
    • Genres (Book): Bildungsroman, Children's literature, Fiction, Novel, Social commentary + 1 more
    • Original Language: English Language
    buy at  
  16. 16
    + 85
    - 41

    If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

    more ABOUT
    • Author: J. D. Salinger
    • First Published: 1951-07-16
    • Subjects: Popular literature, Teenage rebellion, Literature, Human sexuality, Psychological identity + 5 more
    • Genres (Book): First-person narrative, Sports, Bildungsroman, Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
    buy at  
  17. 17
    + 70
    - 32

    In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

    more ABOUT
    • Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • First Published: 1925-04-10
    • Subjects: Music, Literary, Education, Revenge, Jazz Age + 10 more
    • Genres (Book): Fiction, Novel
    • Original Language: English Language
    buy at  
  18. 18
    + 50
    - 19

    Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

    more ABOUT
    • Author: Gabriel García Márquez
    • First Published: 1967
    • Subjects: Latin America
    • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Magic realism, Novel
    • Original Language: Spanish Language
    buy at  
  19. 19
    + 51
    - 23

    Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

    more ABOUT
    • Author: Charles Dickens
    • First Published: 1850
    • Subjects: Coming of age, Child labour, 19th century, History, England + 1 more
    • Genres (Book): Fiction, Novel, Künstlerroman
    • Original Language: English Language
    buy at  
  20. 20
    + 25
    - 4

    "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."

    more ABOUT
    • Author: Franz Kafka
    • First Published: 1915
    • Subjects: Literary, Education, Literature, Classics, Drama + 3 more
    • Genres (Book): Speculative fiction, Absurdist fiction, Fiction, Novella, Fantasy
    • Original Language: German Language
    buy at  
108 +

Something missing? Add it!

L List Options B Comments & Embed z Share Next List >