Book Blog Memes / Bookish Discussions

Top Ten Books that “had” me from the first line.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, is personal choice. Remember that line “You had me at hello”? Well, these books had me intrigued from the first line. I had to add a “runners up” category at the bottom because I just couldn’t get the list down to ten.

CHILDREN’S

Little House in the Big Woods (1932) by Laura Ingalls Wilder: “Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.”

This book captivated my early years as a reader and I fell in love with Laura and Pa and their kind and hard working little family. Talk about excellent secondary characters! I wanted to be Laura and pretended to live in the 1870s as I played outside creating my own adventures growing up in the Midwest. If there was a “Top Ten Book Series Worth Your Time”, this would be on mine. Or “Top Ten Movies/Shows That Didn’t Ruin The Book.”

Charlotte’s Web (1952) by E. B. White: ‘“Where’s Papa going with that ax?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.” 

This book is still one of my all time favorites and really had me hook, line and sinker as a child. I still don’t know how it didn’t win the Newbery Medal but it did receive an honor, so there’s that.

YOUNG ADULT

The Sea of Tranquility (2012) by Katja Millay: “Dying really isn’t so bad after you’ve done it once. And I have.”

Okay, it’s two lines but I was thoroughly impressed and surprised by this YA book about a young piano prodigy who has a mission to get back at the boy who took everything from her. This is one of those books that I feel I can’t review properly. It’s one of those “call me after you’ve read it, then we’ll talk” books.

The Fault in Our Stars (2012) by John Green: “Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.”

I don’t care about all the hype and the John Green naysayers. I know that when I read this book while it was still a “buzz book”  it forever left it’s mark. After going through my friend’s tragic battle with cancer at 24, there was no other book that captured all the feels that this one did about being so young and knowing you are going to die. And while you are trying to be graceful and live the rest of your days to the fullest, you are very angry and pissed off that your time has been cut short. I still get worked up about it.

CLASSICS

Pride and Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Of course P&P somehow shows up on my list at some point, somehow, someway. I don’t know if this line gripped me from the get-go but I found it to be a bold statement for the time and knew Lizzie and Jane Austen would not disappoint my feminist ways.

 

MEMOIR

The Glass Castle (2005) by Jeanette Walls: “I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster.”

I still find this memoir remarkable and when I first read it for my book club, I couldn’t get the images and the Walls’ existence out of my head.

CONTEMPORARY/LITERARY

Middlesex (2002) by Jeffrey Eugenides: I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”

Just reading this line calls for a re-read. 

An Untamed State (2014) by Roxane Gay: “Once upon a time, in a far-off land, I was kidnapped by a gang of fearless yet terrified young men with so much impossible hope beating inside their bodies it burned their very skin and strengthened their will right through their bones.”

I still get chills when thinking about this book and regardless of your tolerance level for unease in a story, this is a MUST read. Reading about people’s lives outside of our own is one of the best ways to build empathy. And we all could use more of that in the world.

The Book of Unknown Americans (2014) by Cristina Henriquez: “Back then, all we wanted was the simplest things: to eat good food, to sleep at night, to smile, to laugh, to be well. We felt it was our right, as much as it was anyone’s, to have those things. Of course, when I think about it now, I see that I was naïve. I was blinded by the swell of hope and the promise of possibility. I assumed that everything that would go wrong in our lives already had.”

Alright, I’m cheating here. The first line did have my full attention but the entire first paragraph hit me like a ton of bricks. Especially after reading the entire book. I strongly suggest as soon as you finish the book to reread that first paragraph. You’ll see why. Here is another book that pulls no punches. I can’t imagine anyone reading this book and not finding a connection to their own life or beliefs about immigration.

The Painter (2014) by Peter Heller: “I never imagined I would shoot a man.”

I knew I was in for a bumpy ride from that first sentence and the intensity of the suspense as well as the calmness of the artistic poetry of nature kept my head spinning.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Matilda (1988) by Roald Dahl: “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.”

Oh Roald Dahl. What can I possible say about him?

Calling Invisible Women (2012) by Jeanne Ray: “I first noticed I was missing on a Thursday.”

A simple sentence and set the stage for this contemporary novel with a mixture of magical realism about truly disappearing.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (2012) by Jenny Lawson: “This book is totally true, except for the parts that aren’t.”

Lawson’s blog is what started my appeal for her as a person and then with this memoir, as a writer. Many things she writes about make me cringe but at the same time I find myself agreeing and not wanting to look away.

Heading Out To Wonderful (2012) by Robert Goolrick: “The thing is, all memory is fiction. You have to remember that.”

I didn’t love this follow-up book as much as I enjoyed The Reliable Wife, but it was still a great opener.

 

 What books “had” you from the first line?

 

 

 

 

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20 thoughts on “Top Ten Books that “had” me from the first line.

  1. Pride and Prejudice has a great first line! So does Charlotte’s Web, which one of my six-year-old twins just finished reading. She loved it (despite the tears!).

  2. I try to shut out all the John Green hype because I think it takes away from the connection I have with The Fault in Our Stars. It’s a book that you can either put on a pedestal or one that can be deeply personal to you and I choose the latter. I’m with you on P&P too.
    My TTT

    • Thanks Megan! I’ve had this “list” for some time because I used to write down favorite lines and quotes and then forgot about it. Your TTT was one I was going to do also because I never seem to finish series these days. Thanks for the reminder of all the books I have to read! 😉

  3. Great topic. I really loved The Fault in Our Stars and it definitely has a great first line that really gets your attention. I have heard amazing things about The Sea of Tranquility and I really want to read that book myself. Here’s my post, I decided to go with my favourite mind-blowing book endings.

  4. Oh, I LOVE your choices. Some are books I love and others are ones I don’t know but those first lines definitely make me want to read them. I’m itching for The Painter to be released in Australia because I loved Heller’s debut and that opening line is fantastic. That line from An Untamed State is exquisite.

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