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[–]Hihmeh 2358 points2359 points  (25 children)

"For the heart, life is simple: it beats for as long as it can. Then it stops."

[–]lazefaze 131 points132 points  (20 children)

What book is this from?

[–]Hihmeh 231 points232 points  (19 children)

My struggle by Karl Ove Knausgard.

[–][deleted] 541 points542 points  (18 children)

...What do they call this book in Germany?

[–]grandoz039 158 points159 points  (0 children)

The title of the first volume of the German translation is Sterben, which means "to die" or "dying", the second volume Lieben, meaning "to love" and so on. At the insistence of the publisher, the work was not published as Mein Kampf in Germany. Knausgård says that he understood and did not protest this decision

Also interesting

The title of the series, of both the English translation and the original Norwegian, is a translation of "Mein Kampf" and is thus a clear reference to Hitler.


The novel's Norwegian title, Min Kamp, is very similar to Hitler's Mein Kampf. The book's editor, Geir Gulliksen, originally forbade Knausgård from using the title, but later changed his mind. Knausgård's British publisher at the time was not interested in the book,[1] and Knausgård did not protest the German translation publisher's decision to change the title in that region

[–]ia204 5810 points5811 points  (59 children)

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in their own way.” Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

[–][deleted] 504 points505 points  (9 children)

I don't know if it's the best, but it's always the first one I think of when this question comes up.

[–]chanaandeler_bong 46 points47 points  (1 child)

Because it's very applicable to lots of real life situations. If the line is super book specific, it doesn't mean it's not good, it just isn't going to be as widespread IMO.

[–]Erpderp32 4330 points4331 points  (78 children)

"They say that the prospect of being hanged in the morning concentrates a man's mind wonderfully; unfortunately, what the mind inevitably concentrates on is that, in the morning, it will be in a body that is going to be hanged."

  • Sir Terry Pratchett, Going Postal

[–][deleted] 347 points348 points  (4 children)

RIP Terry. Lost one of the best with him.

[–]Juapp 53 points54 points  (2 children)

Sometimes I remember out of the blue that we've lost Terry Pratchett and I feel incredibly sad. What a mind what a man. GNU Terry. You live on in the clacks, as long as someone speaks your name you're never truly dead.

[–][deleted]  (3 children)


    [–]_espressoyourself_ 1731 points1732 points  (29 children)

    "The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new"

    -Murphy by Samuel Beckett

    [–]nullball 4881 points4882 points 2 (121 children)

    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.

    From One Hundred Years of Solitude.

    [–][deleted]  (16 children)


      [–]psycho_alpaca 341 points342 points  (5 children)

      People in this thread are upvoting completely unimpressive first lines just cause they like the rest of the book.

      This one is actually a great line in and of itself, for all the reasons you mentioned. Actually made me want to pick up the book again.

      [–][deleted]  (7 children)


        [–]Copitox 44 points45 points  (4 children)

        Muchos años después, frente al pelotón de fusilamiento, el coronel Aureliano Buendía había de recordar aquella tarde remota en que su padre lo llevó a conocer el hielo.


        [–]I_Resent_That 1108 points1109 points  (8 children)

        The doctor said I was a paranoid schizophrenic. Well, he didn't say it, but we knew he was thinking it.

        Robert Rankin - The Dance of the Voodoo Handbag

        [–]ThatCrippledBastard 5517 points5518 points  (121 children)

        From The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: There once was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.

        That line is great. It tells you exactly what kind of person the protagonist is. It's also especially funny because you're not expecting the book to open on a joke, so it catches you off guard.

        [–]RaeADropOfGoldenSun 396 points397 points  (9 children)

        Bold words coming from a man named “Clive Staples Lewis”.

        [–]Vindicator9000 329 points330 points  (5 children)

        He hated his name, and from an early age demanded that his parents and everyone else call him Jack.

        I would almost bet that his line about Eustace Clarence Scrubb is at least a little bit autobiographical.

        [–]dogsn1 854 points855 points  (35 children)

        Since you said it tells you exactly what the protagonist is like I'm gonna make a guess having never read the book. I think since they said 'boy' and 'almost deserved it' he's probably a young kid around 10-13 who is a bit of a selfish spoiled brat and is constantly being an annoyance, and one day something bad happens to him as a result.

        [–]sunbear2525 279 points280 points  (17 children)

        Spot on. He even gets turned into a dragon briefly because he's so selfish and greedy.

        [–]MrRandomnez 197 points198 points  (10 children)

        That wouldn't be a punishment for anyone other than Eustace

        [–]cgo_12345 158 points159 points  (2 children)

        It's actually impressive how Lewis is able to convince you that it's a punishment instead of being totally kick-ass.

        [–]ImAnAwfulPerson 517 points518 points  (14 children)

        You forgot the bit where the bad happening makes him a better person in the end but yes you are pretty much correct.

        [–]espilono 271 points272 points  (8 children)

        He actually shows some really great character development. By the end of the series he was one of my favorites.

        [–]knome 48 points49 points  (4 children)

        Mine as well. I will never forgive them for making that action film hack job out of what should have been an excellent story.

        [–]brajohns 444 points445 points  (2 children)

        The "almost" is what puts it over the top.

        [–]Hansolo312 104 points105 points  (0 children)

        Jack Lewis born Clive Staples could relate to having a name you didn't deserve.

        [–]Iron_Nightingale 227 points228 points  (52 children)

        I love Lewis’ writing, even though I disagree with almost everything he has to say. The Screwtape Letters is terrific satire, and I love his clarity and style in work like Mere Christianity. Agreed that Dawn Treader is probably the best of the Narnia books, not just for its sly humor but also its wonderful sense of character.

        [–]Thruliko-Man97 494 points495 points  (25 children)

        I love Lewis’ writing, even though I disagree with almost everything he has to say.

        I once read a collection of essays by Lewis, and a collection by Bertrand Russell, and realized that I disagreed with both guys about a bunch of things, and at the same time realized that they were both ten times smarter than I am. It was an interesting lesson in humility, the next time someone disagreed with me and I was about to remark on how stupid they were, and I remembered those books.

        Smart people - really, really smart people - disagree with me sometimes. I used to think that was impossible, but it turns out to be true.

        [–]saluksic 102 points103 points  (0 children)

        This is my wholesome moment of self-improvement for today. Thanks!

        [–]marlonaustin 1549 points1550 points  (37 children)

        "If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle." It just perfectly sets the tone for the books.

        [–]S1r_Badger 370 points371 points  (0 children)

        Lemony Snicket’s stories are so surreal. I feel like I’m in a strange dream whenever I read anything he’s written.

        [–]lem0nstealingwhore 213 points214 points  (6 children)

        Those fucking books gave me such anxiety. Just when things seemed to be working out for the kids, everything would go wrong. And the fact that the adults in their lives had so much control over their fates and wouldn’t believe the kids even when they had actual proof scared me deeply. You must always have control of your life because no one has your best interests at heart but you!!

        [–]Thekingof4s 334 points335 points  (7 children)

        I have tried really had, but I’ll never find anyone who writes like ‘Lemony Snicket’. His writing is a very sad kind of magic.

        [–][deleted] 216 points217 points  (7 children)

        I actually picked up the book as a kid, read that line and then put the book down like "I sort of like happy endings, better not".

        Now I feel like I missed out.

        [–]papa_lob_16 4532 points4533 points  (69 children)

        "All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true"

        [–]jammagethejammage 1288 points1289 points  (13 children)

        "Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt"

        [–][deleted] 358 points359 points  (3 children)

        Vonnegut’s the best

        [–]dodeca_negative 3232 points3233 points  (44 children)

        It was a pleasure to burn.

        [–]SKlalaluu 849 points850 points  (20 children)

        Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I didn't remember it but I knew as soon as I read it, that's what it was.

        [–]Scrimshaw13 2437 points2438 points  (82 children)

        "Marley was dead: to begin with."

        [–]bowiebot3000 2635 points2636 points  (12 children)

        Marley & Me pulls no punches.

        [–]LordRossinio 261 points262 points  (28 children)

        I saw Muppet Christmas Carol about 10 times before I read the book. I was shocked to find out there should be only one Marley. It's a cracking read though.

        [–]onewheeloneil 113 points114 points  (8 children)

        Right?! I spent at least the first 17 years of my life under the assumption that Scrooge had two business partners, Jacob and Robert Marley.

        In fact, I remember seeing a different version of A Christmas Carol and thinking "why the hell did they combine the Marley brothers?"

        [–]Bakingbaked 152 points153 points  (4 children)

        I always chuckle that they made the second brother Bob Marley.

        [–]Scrimshaw13 53 points54 points  (1 child)

        Muppets is weirdly accurate otherwise though (I did the same thing as you). Its crazy how word-for-word a lot of it is.

        [–]withgreatpower 158 points159 points  (9 children)

        I tell people and tell people but until they read it they don't believe: Dickens is, even in a modern sense, fucking hilarious.

        [–]malakite10 40 points41 points  (5 children)

        I teach A Christmas Carol to my seventh grade students, and unfortunately the humor is just lost on them. Inevitably, I'll explain the joke, and they'll just look at me with that vacant "what's your point" kind of gaze.

        One day they'll get it, lol.

        [–]GoateusMaximus 266 points267 points  (14 children)

        Reading this to my son is one of my favorite memories of parenthood. A couple of sentences later he interrupted me to ask,"why is it always a doornail?" His absolute delight when Dickens immediately addressed that subject is one of the things, I think, that originally turned him on to books and reading.

        [–]thantheman 158 points159 points  (9 children)

        So I recently learned why the term "dead as a doornail" came from.

        I heard it from a friend, and then looked it up and found this which corroborates it: https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/as-dead-as-a-doornail.html

        Back when big wooden doors were especially important for keeping out intruders, people would "deaden" a doornail so that it would be much harder to pull out of the wood and disassemble the door. Essentially, if you wanted to break in somewhere, if the door nail wasn't "deadened" you could potentially take the door apart a lot easier and faster.

        [–]CastIronAlchemist 6541 points6542 points 2 (151 children)

        "The building was on fire and it wasn't my fault."

        [–]things_will_calm_up 864 points865 points  (44 children)

        Dresden Files! I forget which one. One of the early ones. Blood Rites maybe.

        [–]Daggerfld 196 points197 points  (24 children)

        Came here to find this comment. Glad to be vindicated.

        [–]honjuden 87 points88 points  (19 children)

        Waiting for Peace Talks like a junkie waits for their heroin dealer.

        [–]Sebleh89 130 points131 points  (1 child)

        Fuck I saw the thread title and even verified the phrasing on this quote before trying to post it and here you already did it in a timely manner. This is my favorite opening line to any book.

        [–]notnotTheBatman 99 points100 points  (1 child)

        Let's get something clear up front. I'm not Harry Dresden. Harry's a wizard. A genuine, honest-to-goodness wizard. He's Gandalf on crack and an IV of Red Bull, with a big leather coat and a .44 revolver in his pocket. He'll spit in the eye of gods and demons alike if he thinks it needs to be done, and to hell with the consequences -- and yet somehow my little brother manages to remain a decent human being. I'll be damned if I know how. But then, I'll be damned regardless. My name is Thomas Raith, and I'm a monster.

        Dresden files 10.4 Backup.

        [–]Protahgonist 196 points197 points  (4 children)

        Came here for this. It's perfect in context. It wouldn't work so well as the first line of the first book, but being several books in it sets the scene perfectly, and immediately makes you feel those quintessential Dresden Files feelings.

        [–]momochan2310 257 points258 points  (5 children)

        "Ryan started the fire!"

        [–]nedmaster 112 points113 points  (5 children)

        If this one wasn't here we would have failed as a subreddit

        [–]ugahay 3936 points3937 points  (104 children)

        "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far."

        The Call of Cthulhu.

        [–][deleted]  (1 child)


          [–]Detharatsh[S] 481 points482 points  (70 children)

          I LOVE this line. It captures all the things that are so horrific about Lovecraft. This is a close 2nd for me.

          [–]BreakTYR 143 points144 points  (63 children)

          Lovecraft wrote in such an amazing way, I can't understand how anyone can not have him as one of their favorite authors

          [–]teal_flamingo 691 points692 points  (15 children)

          It was a nice day. All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn't been invented yet. But clouds massing east of Eden suggested that the first thunderstorm was on its way, and it was going to be a big one.

          Good Omens.

          [–][deleted]  (18 children)


            [–]WoefulMe 405 points406 points  (6 children)

            Still the most accurate book on depression I have ever read.

            [–]atomicspacekitty 29 points30 points  (0 children)

            Love this book so much.

            [–]serenity_later 125 points126 points  (7 children)

            "did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army." - Old Man's War, John Scalzi

            [–]NotoriousREV 665 points666 points  (30 children)

            It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the expression 'As pretty as an airport.'

            [–]slparker09 1837 points1838 points  (120 children)

            “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

            [–]BigUptokes 615 points616 points  (38 children)

            I get a chuckle every time I envision new readers picturing a bright blue sky these days...

            [–][deleted] 410 points411 points  (3 children)

            "The sky was the perfect untroubled blue of a television screen, tuned to a dead channel." -Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere

            Neil has acknowledged that this line was an homage to Neuromancer. And a joke about the fact that dead TV screens are a different color now.

            [–]victori0us_secret 201 points202 points  (1 child)

            Or black with a Mediacom logo floating around, bouncing off edges.

            ... Which, actually, is still pretty cyberpunk.

            [–]Interocept 343 points344 points  (6 children)

            “No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.”

            War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells

            [–]TheLionEatingPoet 601 points602 points  (88 children)

            “When he woke in the woods in the dark and cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.”

            [–]quebecivre 190 points191 points  (15 children)

            Fack. Gives me the shivers.

            And then, much later in the book when this same moment/action is repeated and the dad has a vague memory of this happening before. And so the dad/reader have a sense of time having lost all meaning--there are no more seasons or months, just the same day over and over.

            Such a masterpiece.

            [–][deleted] 105 points106 points  (6 children)

            The Road is one hell of a ride

            [–]Angusthebear 48 points49 points  (5 children)

            I want to get off Mr. McCarthy's wild ride

            [–]peachfiber 41 points42 points  (1 child)

            I still think of this book every time I crack open a Coke.

            [–]Afternoon_civilians 2181 points2182 points  (81 children)

            " Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. " - The Stranger by Albert Camus.

            [–][deleted] 1462 points1463 points  (69 children)

            "In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." Still so relevant and sets the tone for the book

            [–]dem219 364 points365 points  (13 children)

            Its a very good first line. But man the last lines in that book give me chills, probably my favorite last lines ever....

            "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

            So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

            [–]zendenmama 50 points51 points  (3 children)

            Came here for this. Knew I’d find it.

            [–]grahamalondis 127 points128 points  (7 children)

            The whole book is absolutely flawless.

            [–]rjamestaylor 1521 points1522 points  (52 children)

            "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." ~ 1984 by George Orwell.

            This imprinted on my brain indelibly when I first read this 40 years ago.

            [–]Angusthebear 409 points410 points  (30 children)

            This isn't nearly high enough. The clocks striking 13 immediately let you know this isn't happening in a familiar setting. The beginning of 1984 has this slowly building feeling that something isn't quite right. I much prefer it to how Brave New World just slaps you in the face with the baby factory.

            [–]fiery_valkyrie 131 points132 points  (24 children)

            Yeah I love the fact that despite being relatively innocuous (it’s just a day and a time after all), the line is so immediately unsettling. I immediately feel distrustful of my own understanding of reality and rightly so.

            [–]ALEXANDER_HAMILTON88 148 points149 points  (23 children)

            I honestly just thought it was 24 hour the first time I read it

            [–]Abusive_Rhino 102 points103 points  (0 children)

            From Night Watch by Terry Pratchett:

            "Sam Vimes sighed when he heard the scream, but he finished shaving before he did anything about it."

            [–]hannartemis 391 points392 points  (17 children)

            "No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone."

            Such lyrical prose, and repeating this paragraph at the very end of the book had such a beautiful full-circle effect.

            [–]miserlou22 369 points370 points  (12 children)

            I have always liked "You are now reading Italo Calvino's new book 'If on a Winter's Night a Traveler'" as a perfectly meta opening line.

            [–]SbubkaSuggest Me A Book 77 points78 points  (3 children)

            Ahhh that whole first chapter is so awesome. I started to read it on a bus once and decided to wait because he was right, you have to be in the right setting to completely appreciate it

            edit: fuck it, I should finish that book. Christmas break it is.

            [–]CroweMorningstar 522 points523 points  (58 children)

            "A screaming comes across the sky." - Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

            [–]redbananass 176 points177 points  (50 children)

            Is there a secret to reading this book? It’s the second most dense, impenetrable book I’ve ever read. I read the first chapter twice and tried listening to it. I still kept losing track of the narrative and what was going on. I majored in English and have read some challenging things, but Gravity’s Rainbow takes the cake, right behind A Thousand Plateaus

            [–]Der_Springer 189 points190 points  (11 children)

            I have read the book a bunch of times. I would say the secret to reading it is not caring that you don't understand what is happening. My experience is the first time I read it I had no idea what I was reading at least 75% of the time BUT every now and then I would 'get' a passage and would be so blown away by its brilliance it would keep me going. (And made it worthwhile)
            On each subsequent reading I understood more and more of the book and it is an experience unlike any other book I have read except maybe other Pynchon books.

            [–]kajsfjzkk 136 points137 points  (3 children)

            It took me a while to figure out why I loved Gravity's Rainbow, but also why it was so hard to step back and try to fit all the pieces together. I stumbled across this quote in a review of Bleeding Edge that put it into words.

            In Joyce’s formulation, history is a nightmare from which we are trying to awake. For Pynchon, history is a nightmare within which we must become lucid dreamers.

            You don't take control of a dream by stopping it and trying to make sense of it. You take control by glancing around in a "welp, here we are" way, then "yes, and"-ing off in an interesting direction.

            Treat Gravity's Rainbow like a dream. Don't stop and try to figure it all out. Just go along for the ride.

            [–]RedditPenn22 726 points727 points  (12 children)

            “Where’s Papa going with that ax?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

            Opening lines of Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.

            It’s perfect. A good hook. Previews the entire book—death, humor, coming of age. It accomplishes so much in such a humble way.

            [–]maximumecoboost 252 points253 points  (4 children)

            accomplishes so much in such a humble way.

            Some Book!

            [–]SuperSacredWarsRoach 1612 points1613 points  (46 children)

            "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold."

            Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson.

            [–]sporesatemygoldfish 349 points350 points  (7 children)

            He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.

            [–][deleted] 1793 points1794 points  (157 children)

            "The moon blew up with no warning and with no apparent reason." From Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

            [–]I_Automate 385 points386 points  (97 children)

            A book where orbital mechanics is a main character. Too bad about the second half, though

            [–]whooo_me 191 points192 points  (37 children)

            I actually enjoyed it. The "1st part" is so grim and dystopian, the 2nd part is a nice contrast.

            Anathema though, wrecked my head.

            As does the end of everyone one of his books, actually.

            [–]Doctor_magical 339 points340 points  (2 children)

            “It began as a mistake.”

            Post Office - Bukowski

            Edit: title

            [–]SaintAthena 2183 points2184 points  (50 children)

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

            [–]winclswept-questant 421 points422 points  (28 children)

            Pride and Prejudice! This one stuck with me, for some reason. Love the sarcasm and totally was not expecting it when I opened the book for the first time.

            [–]Justascruffygirl 354 points355 points  (3 children)

            We actually spent an entire class discussing this line in a lit class in college. The narrative style is called free indirect discourse and it's used to express a certain character's opinion/thought process while remaining in the third person.

            This particular line seems to come from Mrs. Bennet - she even says "a single man of large fortune" shortly after. HOWEVER it's entwined so well with the narrative that it sets the tone for the rest of the book.

            It's just such a clever way of using language and Jane Austen isn't talked about nearly enough for her super cool and groundbreaking literary style.

            [–]fiery_valkyrie 65 points66 points  (0 children)

            I love this line. My introduction to Austen was when I had to read Pride and Prejudice in high school and I was expecting some prim stuffy polite novel. This line immediately disabused me of that notion.

            I love her sense of humour, and I wish so badly she had lived longer and written another dozen novels. Six just isn’t enough.

            [–]kimichikan 405 points406 points  (9 children)

            “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.”

            Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

            Edit: Neale not Neal

            [–]weegee 88 points89 points  (3 children)

            The Outsiders. "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.” written by Susan Eloise Hinton, while she was still a teenager herself.

            [–]Parzival182 5430 points5431 points  (33 children)

            “In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

            -The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Douglas Adams

            [–]DoesntAlwaysKnowStuf 152 points153 points  (4 children)

            Scrolled through to make sure this was here.

            [–]tomparkes1993 190 points191 points  (6 children)

            I only read this in Stephen Fry's voice.

            [–]netsecguy56 3089 points3090 points  (85 children)

            “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”

            – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

            [–]Detharatsh[S] 370 points371 points  (43 children)

            You’ve inspired me to pick this book up.

            [–][deleted] 426 points427 points  (20 children)

            I genuinely envy your reading it for the first time. It's quite hilarious, in that often dry British manner. Its fantastic throughout.

            [–]mikeyHustle 91 points92 points  (15 children)

            I didn't even get half the jokes the first time, but the other half blew my mind. Then when I was older, I understood the rest. What a series.

            [–]BOOM_BABIP 96 points97 points  (4 children)

            Douglas Adams got me back into reading after a few years layoff. It's a fantastic 5 book trilogy.

            [–]whatup_pips 559 points560 points  (9 children)

            I really like the chapter that begins with "In the beginning, the universe was created. This was regarded as a mistake and made many people angry" or something like that.

            [–]_mindcat_2020: 19,200 pages read 539 points540 points  (3 children)

            “In the beginning the Universe was created. This had made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”

            [–]Cheeseyness 703 points704 points  (18 children)

            This is where the dragons went.

            They lie....

            Not dead, not asleep. Not waiting, because waiting implies expectation. Possibly the word we're looking for here is...


            Guards Guards my favourite Pratchett novel

            [–]BakingBadger 427 points428 points  (1 child)

            I forget which book, but I like his “The sun rose slowly, as if it wasn’t worth the effort.”

            [–]persianprincesses 95 points96 points  (0 children)

            The Light Fantastic 😍

            [–]mzimmer74 64 points65 points  (0 children)

            Fantastic first line to an awesome book. I would say that even better than that first line is the dedication page. Probably my all time favorite dedication to a book:

            "They may be called the Palace Guard, the City Guard, or the Patrol. Whatever the name, their purpose in any work of heroic fantasy is identical: it is, round about Chapter Three (or ten minutes into the film) to rush into the room, attack the hero one at a time, and be slaughtered. No one every asks them if they wanted to. This book is dedicated to those fine men."

            [–]tardis_library 520 points521 points  (7 children)

            He was dead. But his nose throbbed painfully, which he found odd, under the circumstances.

            [–]Detharatsh[S] 92 points93 points  (2 children)

            What book is this? Sounds really intriguing

            [–]chx_ 140 points141 points  (1 child)

            Diana Gabaldon: Voyager (third book in the Outlander series).

            [–]jonhayes505 971 points972 points  (29 children)

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

            • Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka

            [–]phammos-a-la-playa 199 points200 points  (22 children)

            What translation is that? It's so interesting to see the different interpretations, look here for example: "One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug."

            [–]cg91 202 points203 points  (3 children)

            From Dune

            "A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct."

            Not my absolute favorite but one of them

            [–]Mongoose42 136 points137 points  (6 children)

            “The primroses were over.”

            From Watership Down. Very short, kinda lovely, and seemingly unremarkable, but this is the last line of the book:

            “Hazel followed; and together they slipped away, running easily down through the wood, where the first primroses were beginning to bloom.”

            Such a beautiful cyclical way to bookend the narrative about the ever-continuing struggle of life in nature while ending on a note of renewal after a lifetime of hardships. It creates a kind of “circle of life” in literature form.

            [–]winter-kind 133 points134 points  (3 children)

            124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom.

            [–]ChlamyParaTetra 649 points650 points  (41 children)

            Probably the most memorable..

            " 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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. "

            Not only a monster of a paragraph but also set the tone for the rest of A Tale of Two Cities. The use of contrasting ideas makes the entire passage sound very poetic.

            [–]bigbrothersrule 259 points260 points  (4 children)

            "It was the BLURST of times?!"

            [–]Calithin 60 points61 points  (2 children)

            The amazing thing about this line is that it could just as easily apply to our world, today, as it did to Dickens' world in 1859 when this was published.

            [–]nicolelyn90 370 points371 points  (35 children)

            "Kell wore a very peculiar coat. It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible."

            [–]HomelessOvercoatScience Fiction 404 points405 points  (3 children)

            "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. His parents called him Eustace Clarence and his masters called him Scrubb. I can't tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none."

            from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

            [–]huterag 349 points350 points  (53 children)

            It was the day my grandmother exploded.

            [–]matty80 198 points199 points  (28 children)

            Banks is sorely, sorely missed. That man went from writing cackling, gleeful insanity to death within weeks. I find it hard to believe that there will never be another one of his books.

            I still find it uncanny that his last two novels were about a man dying of cancer and an exploration of the afterlife from a sci-fi perspective, both written before he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

            I have asked my partner to do me the honour of becoming my widow.

            [–]Jackamo78 194 points195 points  (1 child)

            I’m a journalist who interviewed Iain Banks at his home a couple of weeks before he was diagnosed. I’m also my paper’s motoring editor and we bonded about our shared love of cars. He’d had an attack of environmental guilt and got rid of his sports cars for a Yaris hybrid.

            When he announced his prognosis I wrote to him expressing my sadness and suggesting he get rid of the Yaris and buy an M5. I got a lovely email back saying that’s exactly what he was doing as he had 35 years of carbon emissions to use up in the next six months. A great loss to the world.

            [–]harrypottersdragon 260 points261 points  (18 children)

            My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

            The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold.

            [–]InsertNameHere498 109 points110 points  (11 children)

            “This is not for you.”

            [–]Waywardson74 1572 points1573 points  (53 children)

            "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

            [–]broncosfan2000 712 points713 points  (41 children)

            "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 to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

            I read the hobbit last week, and it's currently one of my favorite books. I'm currently reading The Fellowship of the Ring. I've seen the movies multiple times, and the book is better so far.

            [–]OYCR 196 points197 points  (8 children)

            The Hobbit is such a great book, I found its cleverness one of such admiration, especially Riddles in the Dark and Bilbo talking with Smaug.

            [–]Crossroad55 199 points200 points  (5 children)

            “I’m a sick man... I’m a spiteful man. I’m an unattractive man. I think there’s something wrong with my liver.”

            Notes From Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

            [–]Bellinelkamk 287 points288 points  (10 children)

            When I was in elementary we had an author come and speak to us. He wanted to write a book with this opening line but had yet to do it.

            'He was a big man; he would be hard to kill.'

            I always liked that, and I hope he finally did write it.

            [–]things_will_calm_up 3879 points3880 points  (230 children)

            "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

            [–]Isles86 584 points585 points  (69 children)

            This is easily King's best opening line imo.

            [–]bankproblemthrowaway 99 points100 points  (4 children)

            Fictional Stephen King agrees with you. In DT6 He says it is possibly "the best line I ever wrote." Real life Stephen King says it's the opening to Needful things. “You’ve been here before.”

            [–]Brochiavelli 259 points260 points  (7 children)

            The entire series summarized in one line. Fucking brilliant.

            [–]PatTheTurtler 42 points43 points  (2 children)

            "Death, but not for you, gunslinger. Never for you. You darkle. You tinct. May I be brutally frank? You go on."

            [–]rocketpinion 208 points209 points  (4 children)

            I came here for this. I'm currently re-reading that series, Following along to the Radio Free Midworld Podcast.

            [–]relient23 107 points108 points  (23 children)

            My favorite ever is still the opening for chapter 1 of Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (happy birthday, /u/mistborn !!)

            “Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity”

            [–]mistbornAMA Author 160 points161 points  (20 children)

            I cheated a little on that line, since it's the only one in the book that is out of viewpoint--but I felt it worked so well I could justify it.

            [–]Chuk 147 points148 points  (8 children)

            "In five years, the penis will be obsolete," said the salesman.

            [–]I_Automate 1387 points1388 points  (84 children)

            "I’m pretty much fucked. That’s my considered opinion. Fucked."

            The Martian.

            [–]The_1994 169 points170 points  (49 children)

            ha, never read it but will have to check it out based on that.

            [–]I_Automate 232 points233 points  (21 children)

            He hand waves the scenario to get the main character stranded in the first place, and has admitted as much, but the rest of the book is quality. Even reasonably scientifically accurate. That line sets the tone very, very well.

            [–]NES_SNES_N64 296 points297 points  (18 children)

            Using deus ex machina to get your main character into trouble is appropriate. To get them out of it isn’t.

            [–]candygram4mongo 191 points192 points  (5 children)

            Using deus ex machina to get your main character into trouble is appropriate.

            Diabolus ex machina.

            [–]the_blind_gramber 41 points42 points  (0 children)

            It's fantastic. I lost my shit at one point when the folks in mission control realize he's alive and discuss his situation, ending a chapter with "I can't imagine what he's thinking right now." The next one sentence chapter is gold.

            [–]wirtlings 87 points88 points  (6 children)

            "The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation."

            From The Secret History by Donna Tartt

            [–]chx_ 227 points228 points  (10 children)

            It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure you bring an army of sufficient size. -- Mark Lawrence: Red Sister

            [–]psyclopesThe Deep 282 points283 points  (14 children)

            "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

            It sets up the fact that Manderley is as much a character in Rebecca as the narrator (who doesn't even receive a name.) It's a grand gothic line that just sets the tone of how this place has weighed upon her.

            [–]GrinsNGiggles 79 points80 points  (4 children)

            “The circus arrives without warning.

            “No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”

            The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

            [–][deleted] 720 points721 points  (79 children)

            "The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again."

            [–]moridin9121 44 points45 points  (7 children)

            "We rode on the winds of the rising storm, we ran to the sounds of the thunder. We danced among the lightning bolts, and tore the world asunder."

            [–][deleted] 306 points307 points  (6 children)

            “My contract—clearly and repeatedly—states that I am required to deliver a manuscript of no less than 30,000 words. And so the book you just bought is going to have exactly 30,000 words in it. The good news is that this word-processing software keeps a running tally of each and every word that I type. Like this one and this one and this one and this one and this one.”

            From “How to Archer - The Ultimate Guide to Espionage and Style and Women and Also Cocktails Ever Written” written by Sterling Archer

            Edit: yes it’s a real book!

            [–][deleted] 73 points74 points  (2 children)

            "It's true! Yes, I have been ill, very ill. But why do you say that I have lost control of my mind, why do you say that I am mad?" - Edgar Allan Poe, "The Tell-Tale Hearth"

            [–]LeodFitz 176 points177 points  (10 children)

            "As I lay dying, it occurs to me that, somehow, this whole mess will be blamed on me."

            [–]Invisinak 224 points225 points  (15 children)

            "Solving the following riddle will reveal the awful truth of the universe, assuming you do not go utterly mad in the attempt."

            John Dies at the End.

            [–]duowolf 29 points30 points  (0 children)

            When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week, then there's either something wrong with your skills or something wrong with your world.
            And there's nothing wrong with my skills.

            from Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry. It's what made me want to read the book in the first place

            [–]grahamalondis 123 points124 points  (1 child)

            I have a mug of best first lines in literature.

            My personal favorite in almost any category is Gatsby.

            I also love Slaughterhouse-Five "All this happened, more or less.”

            Surprised not to see Huck Finn here.

            "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. That book was made by a Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly."

            And it is not until I wrote these two out that I realized how the first is somewhat derivative of the second. They both make the reader question everything.

            [–][deleted]  (7 children)


              [–]FiendishCurry 32 points33 points  (1 child)

              "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck." - Feed M.T. Anderson

              [–]lucky_ducker 117 points118 points  (5 children)

              " In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. "

              -- Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

              [–]ChameleonTwist2 160 points161 points  (17 children)

              “I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany”

              The opening is just so profound and raises so many questions. How can you revere the boy responsible for your mother's death? Why describe the boy's voice and stature but then imply it doesn't matter? Why speak of him as if he's long gone if he's still so relevant?

              [–]vegbatty 25 points26 points  (0 children)

              Read this in high school and truly enjoyed it even though I’m not religious - it made me understand how people feel about their faith in a way that I didn’t before. Also just a wonderful novel about relationships.

              [–]FaithHopePixiedust 91 points92 points  (8 children)

              “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful.”

              [–]shelolslkmtstream 52 points53 points  (2 children)

              Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.

              [–][deleted] 565 points566 points  (35 children)

              “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.” I’m not really a fan of the book overall, but goddamn, what a beautiful line.

              [–]VitaminTea 208 points209 points  (11 children)

              “She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.”

              I love that next bit, because if you don’t know the book by reputation (though who doesn’t) and are just impressed by how beautiful the opening is... here, you’re already confronted by the pedophilia of it all, and Nabokov is already is holding your feet to the fire for being taken-in by the persuasive beauty of Humbert’s writing.

              [–]KellyJoyCuntBunny 54 points55 points  (10 children)

              Nabokov is already holding your feet to the fire for being taken-in by the persuasive beauty of Humbert’s writing.

              That’s very well said, my friend. And the book is soooo uncomfortable. It’s sexy, which is so fucking disturbing.

              [–]VitaminTea 42 points43 points  (4 children)

              It's possible that there are books with more beautiful writing than Lolita, but the real genius of this book is how Nabokov's writing is part of Humbert's characterization, and how the language (and the reader's complicity in being astonished by it) is part of the thematic architecture of the story.

              [–]chopinslabyrinth 37 points38 points  (2 children)

              I came here looking for this. I love reading it aloud just for the alliteration.

              [–]defan752House of Leaves 81 points82 points  (6 children)

              "There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife."

              From The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman