Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1)

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  232,926 ratings  ·  8,738 reviews
Dear Reader,

I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing o
Paperback, 162 pages
Published 1999 by Scholastic, Inc.
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Bad Beginning, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Elizabeth Newton I am 28 and I am now reading the series... for the fourth time through. Even though I know I will become slightly obsessed by it during that time. You…moreI am 28 and I am now reading the series... for the fourth time through. Even though I know I will become slightly obsessed by it during that time. You guessed it - I love it!!(less)
Amelia The books get better as the series goes on but they don't get happier
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I am not a violent man. In my lifetime, I have never been in a fight. I've never seriously threatened anyone with violence, never made anyone feel afraid by my physical presence, never even really seriously considered doing violence to another person.

Having said that, the feelings this book evoked in me were... violent.

Not because Lemony Snicket has written a book where terribly unfortunate things happen to small children - I have no problems with that and in fact encourage it; it builds charact
Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
For some reason I had the sudden urge to re-read these books... so I decided to start listening to them on audiobook!
I have the 11th book in a physical copy, but I will eventually be picking the rest of them up as well.
When I was a child, I learned a thing or two from reading the works of Roald Dahl. The most important of these lessons is that adults are, more often than not, either evil or oblivious and, to co-opt Lemony Snicket's writing style, by oblivious I mean "lacking conscious awareness; unmindful."

As an adult, I have only received mountains of proof substantiating the notion that adults are either evil or oblivious. All you need to do is watch the news or enter the workforce and you too will realize t
J.G. Keely
So the premise of this book (as the narrator keeps helpfully reminding us) is that this group of three children will continue to have difficult problems to overcome, and every time they succeed in dealing with one problem, another will crop up. In the writing business, this is what's known as 'a plot'.

But then he takes it one step further: in addition to all the difficulties along the way, he assures us that the characters will never break this pattern, and there will be no 'happy ending'. I thi
Nov 22, 2011 Monk rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Who Missed The Potter Bus
I never really did get into Harry Potter. I imagine that this is viewed as a crime by most everyone on this service. For some it is heresy. But, I refuse to stand shamefaced - Hogwarts just didn't do it for me.

I didn't think this would either.

However, I was more than pleasantly surprised. I am of a somewhat morbid streak, and the Series of Unfortunate Events books, I must say, tickles that grotesque bone in a way most pleasing.

The story of the Baudelaire Children is one filled with tragedy and d
Mark Lawrence
I'm reading through this series with my daughter Celyn (10 years old, very disabled, hence Dad does the reading).

Edit: Finished & reviewed all 13!

So, this is a clever, entertaining book set in a world like ours but populated with bizarre characters and with distinctly dark undercurrents.

Recurring themes throughout the series are:

i) Adults are mindbogglingly stupid.

ii) The narrator, Lemony Snicket, is a character we glimpse in tantalising snatches.

iii) Words that stretch a child's vocabulary
This was fantastic! I read the series when I was a kid and then just now had to reread it for my Children's Lit class! And I'm glad I did! Because eff yeah! This! IS! GREAT!

Daniel Handler/Lemony Snicket has such a distinctive tone and writing style, and it's one that I love. He's sarcastic and realistic and cynical and hilarious. Best of all, even though this is absolutely a children's book it treats the reader (who is technically supposed to be a child) as an intelligent human who is capable of
Read this for booktubeathon!
I wasn't expecting this book to be as creepy as it was, if I read this when I was younger I would have been terrified!
Jason Koivu
Apr 18, 2012 Jason Koivu rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: The Magnetic Fields
Shelves: fiction
Made for kids, but adults like it too! The Bad Beginning is one of those kids' books that doesn't try to "talk down" to their level. Yes, it breaks the 4th wall and assists the reader with more advanced words, often for comedic purposes, but it never feels like the drudgery of a school lesson. This first book in the series concisely sets up the sympathetic main characters and their dilemna, pits them against their colorful arch enemy and sweeps you up in the saga straight away. A most excellent ...more
This is the first time I have reread this since the first time I read the series. I listened to the audiobook for this and loved it!
so depressing omg
I love the entire Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events. This book came out at the most opportune time to offer an alternative to the saccharine niceness of the abysmally ubiquitous Harry Potter, and thank goodness for that (I'm sure the monolithic HP franchise inspired, at least in part, the conception of Lemony Snicket, Count Olaf and the Baudelaires). The writing style encourages readers to question language and the function language plays in our lives while describing the ill-fated liv ...more
Okay, I know this is a popular series and all, but frankly, I just don't see the charm. I do like that there's lots of vocabulary lessons in the book, but I don't like that the book is basically about child abuse. No, really. You want to write a kid's book? Fine. You want to write a kid's book about child abuse? Fine. Great even. But for the love, abuse is a serious thing, m'kay? And? AND? THE PART WHERE THE EVIL, GREEDY UNCLE TRIES TO MARRY THE 14 YEAR OLD ORPHAN GIRL?! EW! HELLO?! MR. SNICKET, ...more
Apr 28, 2015 Carmen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone and Everyone
What can I say? These books are amazing. Lemony Snicket does not dumb things down for children, and for that I am eternally grateful. He uses great words in this book, such as: insipid, aberrant, declaim, predicament, Molotov cocktails, incur, adroit, relinquish, nuptial, posthaste, in loco parentis, and mulctuary. Most of these words are explained in a great, kid-friendly way. A few are not, and that's when the child reaches for his/her dictionary. This is a great way of teaching children new w ...more
Tea Jovanović
Must read! Must read! Dve godine sam jurila informaciju ko drži prava, šetali me od jednog do drugog da bih na kraju sjurila samog Lemoni Sniketa na jednom javnom čitanju/druženju s čitaocima u knjižari Barnes & Noble u Njujorku davne 2002. godine i doživela nesvakidašnje iskustvo... Oko dvestotinjak dece (i njihovih roditelja) sedelo je na podu/stajalo i naizmenično se smejalo ili vrištalo i plakalo na Sniketove imitacije/interpretacije... Kako su deca nekada reagovala na Branka Kockicu sam ...more
Anzu The Great Destroyer
To Beatrice-- darling, dearest, dead.

Wait. What??

Ever since I watched the Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, I've been dying to read the book. Yes, I know I probably loved the movie so much because of Jim Carrey (huge fan). I mean look at him! How can you NOT love it??

I wish the Count Olaf in the book was as funny as Carrey’s version in the movie.

Anyhow, I was sure the original story should be good, and I’m glad I was not proven wrong. I loved everything about the book minus the
I remember being a kid, and feeling powerless in an adult world. where adults acted in ways that seemed inexplicable and capricious to me at the time. I enjoyed this book as a caricature of that feeling, exaggerated to an entertaining degree.

I think the fact that I listened to the audiobook read by Tim Curry increased my enjoyment of the book. I got the impression it was really intended to be enjoyed out loud, and they couldn't have picked a better narrator. (Though I did find myself waiting for
Ugh. Rarely have I read a book so artificial, trite and purposefully unpleasant. I do like Edward Gorey, so I thought that the allusive title would be more in the spirit of the weird and delightfully obscure. However, I found this book to be calculated and unoriginal, with nothing of whimsy or genuine strangeness. In addition, it was clumsily written in a deliberately stilted style none the more charming for being intentional. I don't entirely understand the popularity of this series, but suspec ...more
Brendon Schrodinger
My partner loves these books and has been urging me to read them for years now. Unlike me, the science nerd, she is a word nerd, and I guess I can see her attraction to the book. But I think it was lost on me.

If you have no idea of what's going on, and I presume that I am one of the last people on the planet other than some isolated tribes in Papua New Guinea to know the story, three children are suddenly orphaned and sent to live with a distant relative who is a Count. He is a classic evil vill
It was a nice and entertaining read and exactly what I expected from it. Works great as a refreshing read in between the larger books I'm reading right now.
Kimberley doruyter
i loved the movie and have wanted to read the books for a while.
and i'm not one bit dissapointed.
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
Dec 25, 2008 Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* by: my mom
wow, loved it!! i really love to see a good work of juvenile fiction. i always feel like there aren't a lot of great kids' books these days ... but this was really good. although the story is dark, it's one of the most hilarious things i've read in my life at the same time. (the irony!!) i also love how the author defines certain vocabulary words; but he doesn't do it in a preachy, dictionary-definition kind of way, which i like. overall, really funny, unique, original, great characters, great t ...more
Quick, entertaining book with smart kids and clueless adults. I wish I'd read this when I was a child.
More like a 3.5 star rating.

Ok...confession. I only started reading this series because I was intrigued by this video. This was one of those series as a kid that I was never interested in reading, despite the fact I had many friends who devoured them. I'm not sure why, as I am sure I would have enjoyed them, but knowing there is going to be a TV show on Netflix about these books....well color me curious. (P.S. The link is for a fan made trailer, not the official one, but still....pretty cool vi
I am not sure why I picked this up - Maybe I was hoping to capture some of the Harry Potter goodness in a different series? Not sure. But I did read this and I found it both irritating and compelling.

The themes were pretty darn adult in this book (series), but the writing was aimed at 7 year olds. The children are told their parents are dead on the first page of the book and that they are to stay with their Uncle Olaf - Who is a bad bad man. The children are pretty much abused by the adults in
While almost everybody I knew was hung up on Harry Potter, I read A Series of Unfortunate Events when it first came out and fell for it immediately. For some reason, I could never get into J K Rowling's writing. There was something about her storytelling voice that put me off, but I was drawn in to Lemony Snicket almost immediately, and it left a huge impression.

Even though it hadn't been that long ago since it was written (a little more than a decade), The Bad Beginning stands the test of time.
Rinda Elwakil
و كيف نُشفي من حب قصص الأطفال؟ :)

إلي ريفيو عن أفراد عائلة باوديلير تعيسي الحظ.

**جدير بالذكر إن ليموني سنيكت الكاتب إنسان محترم بيحترم الناس اللي بتقرا، أول كتاب اقراه مقدمته بتحذرك إن الكتاب رخم و غير سار و احتمال كبير متلاقيش فيه مرادك و اطلع برا انت ايه اللي جابك هنا :)))

احنا رايحين النار يا أخي و لا هنقرا كتاب؟؟ رايحين النار احنا؟؟

Frannie Pan
Review @ Frannie in the Pages.

“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.”

A Bad Beginning is the first book in a series that tells us about the lives of three siblings that lost their parents in a fire are now forced to live with their closest relative, the terrible Count Olaf, who won't stop at nothing to fet his hands on the Beaudelaire's fortune that the eldest daughter will inherit when she's of age.

It is a middle grade series but, i
Haven't read this in quite a long time and I don't believe I ever finished the series. Listened to the audio book version and will likely continue to do so as they are very well done and only take a little over an hour each. This was a fun, fast paced middle grade but that's about all I have to say about it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Christian Fri...: What do you think about the book? 1 11 Nov 04, 2015 01:55PM  
  • The Doll People (Doll People, #1)
  • The Wrath of Mulgarath (The Spiderwick Chronicles, #5)
  • Knights of the Kitchen Table (Time Warp Trio, #1)
  • The Secret of Platform 13
  • Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook (Junie B. Jones, #9)
  • Midnight for Charlie Bone (The Children of the Red King, #1)
  • Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key (Joey Pigza, #1)
  • The Landry News
  • If You're Reading This, It's Too Late (Secret, #2)
  • Sammy Keyes and the Search for Snake Eyes (Sammy Keyes, #7)
  • Cupid Doesn't Flip Hamburgers (The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, #12)
  • Vox (Edge Chronicles, #6)
  • The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
  • Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism (Molly Moon, #1)
  • The Unusual Suspects (The Sisters Grimm, #2)
  • The Thief Lord
  • Standing in the Light: The Captive Diary of Catharine Carey Logan, Delaware Valley, Pennsylvania, 1763 (Dear America)
  • Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake (Gilda Joyce, #2)
Lemony Snicket had an unusual education and a perplexing youth and now endures a despondent adulthood. His previous published works include the thirteen volumes in A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Composer is Dead, and 13 Words. His new series is All The Wrong Questions.

For A Series of Unfortunate Events:

For All The Wrong Questions:
More about Lemony Snicket...

Other Books in the Series

A Series of Unfortunate Events (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #2)
  • The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #3)
  • The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #4)
  • The Austere Academy (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #5)
  • The Ersatz Elevator (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #6)
  • The Vile Village (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #7)
  • The Hostile Hospital (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #8)
  • The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #9)
  • The Slippery Slope (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #10)
  • The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #11)

Share This Book

“ know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.” 2255 likes
“I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.” 1888 likes
More quotes…