Top Ten List: Neal’s Favorite First Lines

Blogs should be informative and encouraging, but also they should entertain. Today’s post is just for fun, and maybe it it’ll get you to think, too. In the style of David Letterman, I’ve decided to post blogs every now and then that are my own literary Top Ten List. 

We begin with first lines from novels. No “Call me Ishmael” or “It was the best of times” here. Also, these are not the Top Ten openers from my favorite novels. Simply put, these are nothing but my favorite first lines. I fought the urge to include my own stuff. Maybe someday.

Keep in mind that this is my opinion and nothing more. Do you want to disagree? Fine, let me know how your favorites are different. So, if there is nothing else we need to do, drum roll, please.

Neal’s Favorite Novel Openers

10.     “I am a sick man.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes From The Underground

9.       “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.” Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

8.          “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Stubb, and he almost deserved it.” C.S. Lewis’ The Dawn Treader

7.       “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days without taking a fish.” Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man And The Sea

6.       “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed into a gigantic insect.” Fran Kafka’s Metamorphosis

5.       “Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin” A.A. Milne’s Winnie The Pooh

4.       “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there as a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo.” James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man

3.          “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

2.       “On they went, singing ‘Eternal Memory’ and whenever they stopped, the sound of their feet, the horses, and the gusts of wind seemed to carry on their singing.” Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago

And my number one favorite first line,

1.        “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people of the world have not had the advantages that you’ve had’.” Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

So what would you do differently? Or better yet, do you have your own Top Ten List of opening lines?  I’d like to see it. Let me know in the Comment section below.


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7 responses to “Top Ten List: Neal’s Favorite First Lines

  1. A very entertaining post! And not just because my dad re-reads Gatsby almost every year and quotes that marvelous opening all the time…

  2. smithford

    You just inspired me. Thank You!
    Sammantha Ford

  3. smithford

    @Neal Abbott. I’m taking up your challenge. You can see #10 here:

  4. I LOVE this idea, Neal, and just might take you up on your challenge. I will definitely let you know when I post and will link to your blog. 🙂

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