What is it about the first line of a story that makes the reader want to read more? The perfect mix of style and humor, or maybe a bit of intrigue? From the literary classic to the bedtime story, here’s a smattering of our favorites—the ones that keep us turning the pages and coming back for more.
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.
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
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.
The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger
There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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.
A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
Call me Ishmael.
Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville
All children, except one, grow up.
Peter Pan, by James Matthew Barrie
Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.
The Trial, by Franz Kafka
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
Paul Clifford, by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton
It was like so, but wasn’t.
Galatea 2.2, by Richard Powers
All this happened, more or less.
Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
In our family there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.
A River Runs Through It, by Joel Snyder