Do you have a favorite first line of a book? Many of us know “Call me Ishmael” from Melville’s Moby Dick. Great first lines help pull a reader into a story. With millions of books published every year, how do the books you read land in your hands? Do you only read from the best sellers list? Maybe you rely on your neighbors’ recommendations; or maybe the local librarian or book store employee. How often do you try to find your “own” next great read?
I took classes with a great creative writer professor during my undergrad days. She laid out some simple structures for writing; “show, don’t tell,” and “grab them with a great first line”. Since then, I use the first sentence as a guide when choosing a book. Sometimes the first sentence is the last sentence I read in a book. Other times, great times, I finish the book to find a great last line.
As I started thinking on this, I wondered, what are some great first lines of a book that you still remember? Could you name the title of a book based on its first line? Maybe you need the first and last line. For fun, I’ll be posting to the Library’s Facebook the first and last lines of random books. Specifically, random books from the adult fiction section of Merrill Memorial Library. Some of the books may come from the New Fiction display, some may come from the bottom shelf in the Adult Fiction room. Follow along once a week and see if you can figure out the title of the book from the first and last lines. Maybe you will find your next great read.