As I was wandering up the stairs at our public library the other day, my journey was arrested by the bright-colored bulletin board pictured in the header. This board is changed monthly, and frequently has things like Staff book picks, or children’s drawings with a book pick, etc.
But this was over the top! A bright orange sign up top announces “Epic Opening Lines”, and another orange sign to the left asks “Any of these sound familiar?” On brightly colored cards are printed thirty one- or two-sentence beginnings to a book; you can lift the flap to peek at the title and author of the book represented. It was a challenge to see if I could recognize any of them – a few were familiar, and one or two were obvious, but many I had never laid eyes on. I realized when I started looking them up at home that quite a few were Young Adult or children’s novels.
Since I doubt if you can read them all from the header, I’ll type several of them here, and see if any baboons can guess them – then I’ll reveal answers Sunday. Here you go:
1. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
2. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
3. They say that just before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes, but that’s not how it happened for me.
4. I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.
6. This is the saddest story I have ever heard.
10. The early morning sky was the color of cat vomit. Of course, Tally thought, you’d have to feed your cat only salmon-flavored cat food for a while, to get the pinks right.
11. The moment one learns English, complications set in.
14. “Where’s Papa going with that axe?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
15. Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex’s admonition, against Allen’s angry assertion: another African amusement… anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa’s antipodal ant annexation.
16. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
17. It was a pleasure to burn.
20. Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women.
23. I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one. Or at least as close as we’re going to get.
24. There is a right way to do things and a wrong way, if you’re going to run a hotel in a smuggler’s town. You shouldn’t make it a habit to ask too many questions, for one thing. And you probably shouldn’t be in it for the money.
27. All children, except one, grow up.
28. It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.
29. 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 to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
30. Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.
Do you have a favorite opening line(s) from a book you’ve read?