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.
Source: American Book Review
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.
Author: Charles Dickens
First Published: 1859
#11 on The Best Novels Ever Writtensee more on A Tale of Two Cities
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
Author: George Orwell
First Published: 1949-06-08
Also Rankedsee more on Nineteen Eighty-Four
It was a pleasure to burn.
Author: Ray Bradbury
First Published: 1953
#28 on The Best Novels Ever Writtensee more on Fahrenheit 451
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Author: Leo Tolstoy
First Published: 1877
#2 on The Best Russian Novelssee more on Anna Karenina
Call me Ishmael.
Author: Herman Melville
First Published: 1851-10-18
#17 on The Best Novels Ever Written
#85 on Books That Changed My Lifesee more on Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
10 people just voted on Pride and Prejudice
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Author: Jane Austen
First Published: 1813-01-28
#10 on The Best Novels Ever Written
#22 on The Best Satirical Novelssee more on Pride and Prejudice
All this happened, more or less.
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
First Published: 1969
#30 on The Best Novels Ever Written
#21 on The Greatest American Novels
#15 on Books That Changed My Lifesee more on Slaughterhouse-Five
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
First Published: 1937-09-21
#13 on The Best Novels Ever Written
#3 on The Best Books for Teens
#11 on Books That Changed My Lifesee more on The Hobbit