Today, I was scanning through Facebook and a friend posted a questionnaire from List Challenges.com, called "100 books you should read in a lifetime." and of course I had to take the quiz! I love lists, and books, and competition!
Three things came to mind: 1) I have plenty to be read (based on this list) : 69% of it to be exact. 2) Some incredible books were not on it, reminding me of the importance of subjectivity. 3) I ADORED Love in the Time of Cholera. Even if, embarrassingly enough, I only read it in my twenties because of its romantic use and mention in the movie Serendipity.
I went to my office and grabbed the book, and did what I do....flipped it open and read a page. Then I read the first sentence. This got me thinking about opening lines to books and how they can be so important. Below I'll list ten books I love and their opening lines. Its like writing a prompt exercise born out of sheer curiosity! The little things make me happy. This new obsession of mine ! I'll have to read the first lines of every book that pass thru my fingers and it will make me so happy!
"Love in the Time of Cholera" - Gabriel Garcia Marquez:
"It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love."
"The Night Circus" - Erin Morgenstern:
"The man billed as Prospero the Enchanger receives a fair amount of correspondence via the theatre office, but this is the first envelope addressed to him that contains a suicide note, and it is also the first to arrive carefully pinned to the coat of a five-year-old-girl."
"The Time Traveler's Wife" - Audrey Niffenegger:
"Claire: It's hard being left behind. I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he's okay. It's hard to be the one who stays."
"Chocolat" - Joanne Harris:
"We came on the wind of the carnival. A warm wind for February, laden with the hot greasy scents of frying pancakes and sausages and powdery-sweet waffles cooked on the hot plate right there by the roadside, with the confetti sleeting down collars and cuffs and rolling in the gutters like an idiot antidote to winter.""All the Light We Cannot See" - Anthony Doerr
"At Dusk they pour from the sky. They blow across the ramparts, turn cartwheels over rooftops, flutter into the ravines between houses. Entire streets swirl with them, flashing white against the cobbles. Urgent message to the inhabitants of this town, they say. Depart immediately to open country. ""How to Kill a Rock Star" - Tiffanie Debartolo
"My oldest memory isn't one I see when I think back on the past, its one I hear. I'm four years old, on my way home from a camping trip with my family. My eyes are shut tightly and I'm trying to sleep in the backseat of the car. My six-year-old brother, who is already asleep, keeps kicking me in the head, and I am about to kick him back when the song on the radio gets my attention."
"The God of Small Things"- Arundhati Roy
"May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dust green trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled in the sun."
"Water for Elephants" - Sara Gruen:
"I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other. When you're five, you know your age down to the month. Even in your twenties you know how old you are. I'm twenty three, you say, or maybe twenty-seven. But then in your thirties something strange starts to happen. It's a mere hiccup at first, an instant of hesitation. How old are you? Oh, I'm---you start confidently, but then you stop. You were going to say thirty-three, but you're not. You're thirty-five. And then you're bothered, because you wonder if this is the beginning of the end. It is, of course, but it's decades before you admit it.""Unbroken" - Laura Hillenbrand
"In the predawn darkness of August 26th, 1929, in the back bedroom of a small house in Torrence, California, a twelve-year-old boy sat up in bed, listening. There was a sound coming from outside, growing ever louder. It was a huge, heavy rush, suggesting immensity, a great parting of air. It was coming from directly above the house."
And lastly, ( for now) but certainly not least....
"Henry and June" - Anais Nin
"My cousin Eduardo came to Louveciennes yesterday. We talked for six hours. He reached the conclusion I had to come to also: that I need an older mind, a father, a man stronger than me, a lover who will lead me in love, because all the rest is too much a self-created thing. The impetus to grow and live intensely is so powerful in me I cannot resist it. I will work, I will love my husband, but I will fulfill myself."
First impressions, or rather first words in a novel, are what can pull you in. The beginning of a story with a crisis, a place, a curiosity, a person, a feeling or just a piece of art with grammar, can draw us in - or lose us right there.
That very idea is what inspires me. That very idea is what scares me senseless, and pushes me forward to try.