Goodreads Blog

15 of Your Favorite First Lines from Books Published in the Last Five Years

Posted by Hayley on March 23, 2017
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, a hobbit in a hole, and the pleasure of burning…. We all know the classics. But what are the new opening sentences that have hooked you?

This week we asked on Facebook and on Twitter: What's your favorite first line from a book published in the last five years? Today we've got your top answers. Did yours make the list?


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"If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are."
From The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah


"Yeah, I know. You guys are going to read about how I die in agony, and you're going to be like, 'Wow! That sounds cool, Magnus! Can I die in agony, too?'"
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From The Sword of Summer
by Rick Riordan


"Let's start with the end of the world, why don't we? Get it over with and move on to more interesting things."
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From The Fifth Season
by N.K. Jemisin


"I may have found a solution to the Wife Problem."
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From The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion


"My mother always started the story by saying, 'Well, she was born in the backseat of a stranger's car,' as though that explained why Wavy wasn't normal."
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From All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
by Bryn Greenwood


"Dear you: The body you are wearing used to be mine."
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From The Rook
by Daniel O'Malley


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"At dusk they pour from the sky."
From All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr


"It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times."
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From Autumn
by Ali Smith


"When I think of my wife, I always think of her head"
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From Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn


"I come from a country that was created at midnight."
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From I Am Malala
by Malala Yousafzai


"The moon exploded without warning and with no apparent reason."
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From Seveneves
by Neal Stephenson


"Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache."
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From Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo


"Call me Ishmael. I won't answer to it, because it's not my name, but it's much more agreeable than most of the things I've been called."
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From Let's Pretend This Never Happened
by Jenny Lawson


"Our dragon doesn't eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our village."
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From Uprooted
by Naomi Novik


"I'm pretty much f--ked."
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From The Martian
by Andy Weir



Don't see your favorite first line? Then share it with us in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:
7 Great Books Hitting Shelves This Week
Lisa See Recommends Books on China, Talks Enduring Characters
If Belle Were on Goodreads, She'd Probably Act a Lot Like Emma Watson

Comments (showing 1-50 of 112) (112 new)


message 1: by Gavin (new)

Gavin Abdollahi What a coincidence... my dad is watching the Martian in the living room, and Mark Watney's face pops up on my recent updates...


Hiba Samad Khan I am so happy I am Malala is there on the list because that line is just so true and beautiful. I love it!


message 3: by Robert (new)

Robert  McNeese Delilah Bard—always a thief, recently a magician, and one day, hopefully, a pirate—was running as fast as she could. -- A Conjuring of Light: A Novel


message 4: by Robert (new)

Robert  McNeese The Salvation Army Santa Claus narrowly escaped having his bell ripped from his hands and shoved down his throat. -- Winter of the Gods (Olympus Bound) by [Brodsky, Jordanna Max]


message 5: by Tessie (new)

Tessie The first line from Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson is my all time favorite first line! I love that it is on the list!


message 6: by Laura (new)

Laura Robert wrote: "Delilah Bard—always a thief, recently a magician, and one day, hopefully, a pirate—was running as fast as she could. -- A Conjuring of Light: A Novel"

Definitely a good one!!


message 7: by Christy (new)

Christy Petersen Holloway It's from year ago, but I loved the first (and last!) line from the Outsiders. "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home."


message 8: by Sabra (new)

Sabra Sabra "the man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed"

The Dark Tower
Stephen King


message 9: by Sabra (new)

Sabra Sabra "DAWN WAS COMING. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts."

Kingkiller Chronicles 2, The Wise Man's Fear

Patrick Rothfuss


message 10: by Anna (new)

Anna I watched the Martian three times (though somehow I always manage to miss the beginning), and it is one of my favorite movies. I also started reading All the Light we Cannot See, and I know the story line (which is quite interesting, in case you haven't read it), but the beginning was just so dense I put it aside after the thirteenth page. Shame. Now I probably won't be reading for another year or so. Also, every one loves the Book Theif, so...
"That last time. That red sky...". The Book Theif is probably my favorite classic (sort of classic, I mean). If you are actually still reading this, well, let's just say I give you my praise for reading my practically useless comment.


message 11: by Santiago (new)

Santiago Ortiz "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
Gabriel García Márquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

(note that the sentence touches 3 different moments in the life of the character, in the present, future and past, respectively)


message 12: by Leslie (new)

Leslie I'm surprised Fight Club's first line didn't make the cut because it kicks things off with a bang:

"Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, after that Tyler's pushing a gun in my mouth and saying, the first step to eternal life is you have to die."

Fight Club
Chuck Palahniuk


message 13: by Leslie (new)

Leslie "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
Jane Austen


message 14: by Nono (new)

Nono I liked The Martian...
Very nice List!


message 15: by Cherie (new)

Cherie Santiago wrote: ""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
Gabriel G..."


It is a great line, but this book was hardly published in the last fifteen years!


message 16: by Cherie (new)

Cherie Leslie wrote: ""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
Jane Austen"


It is a great line, but this book was hardly published in the last fifteen years!


message 17: by Santiago (new)

Santiago Ortiz Ohhh, I see.

"Some minutes later, as he read a comment, book lover Santiago Ortiz was to remember that not so distant afternoon (actually the same afternoon) when he misread the title of the post."


message 18: by Carro (last edited Mar 24, 2017 01:14AM) (new)

Carro "Everyone has their demons, but I buy mine wholesale."

Demonyka - Mark Huntley-James [2016]

I will say up front here, that I am the author's other half - but that opening line still gets me grinning.


message 19: by LAB☺ (new)

LAB☺ "My philosophy is pretty simple - any day nobody's trying to kill me is a good day in my book."

Darkfever - Karen Marie Moning


message 20: by TBruno (last edited Mar 23, 2017 02:12PM) (new)

TBruno "The following day, no one died."

Death With Interruptions [2005]
José Saramago


"Ernst Spengler was alone in his attic apartment, getting ready to throw himself out the already-opened window, when the telephone rang."

Jerusalem [2004]
Gonçalo M. Tavares


message 21: by S.L.J. (new)

S.L.J. On the list I love the Martian, but Nightingale gets the vote.

My personal fav...

Narcos season 2 opening:

"Okay, here we go again. Let me break it down for ya. 4000 soldiers. A 250 man team of Colombian special forces. Tens of thousands of rounds fired. 7 dogs and 4 f***ing helicopters. Pablo Escobar was surrounded in the middle of f***ing nowhere! There was no way he was gettin' out of this one...right?"


message 22: by Mark (new)

Mark Sebby I wish I could remember the title of the book, around 15 years ago, which began "There were two melons and a dwarf on the front seat of her car." (Or close to that). Can anybody here help?


message 23: by Andrea (last edited Mar 23, 2017 03:24PM) (new)

Andrea "I'm a liar and a cheat and a coward, but I will never, ever, let a friend down. Unless of course not letting them down requires honesty, fair play, or bravery."

Mark Lawrence, Prince of Fools


message 24: by Hayli (new)

Hayli The Martian is a wonderful, yet oddly funny, book. Mark Watney truly is a treasure.


message 25: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa Sabra wrote: ""the man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed"

The Dark Tower
Stephen King"


Definitely! This is such a great line...


message 26: by Janet (new)

Janet Leslie wrote: ""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
Jane Austen"


I think this is about books from the last five years.


message 27: by Donna (new)

Donna Santiago wrote: "Ohhh, I see.

"Some minutes later, as he read a comment, book lover Santiago Ortiz was to remember that not so distant afternoon (actually the same afternoon) when he misread the title of the post.""


This is my favorite first line of a Goodreads comment.


message 28: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Leslie wrote: "I'm surprised Fight Club's first line didn't make the cut because it kicks things off with a bang:

"Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, after that Tyler's pushing a gun in my mouth and saying, the fi..."


The list is about books published in the last five years, so that's probably why! =)


message 29: by Emmanoella (new)

Emmanoella Ambrósio "My name is Uhtred. I am the son of Uhtred, who was the son of Uhtred and his father was also called Uhtred. "
The last kingdom


message 30: by Ozzi (new)

Ozzi For all those YA lovers out there, Six of Crows-what's not to love?


message 31: by viemag (new)

viemag One of my favorite books is The Life We Bury by Alan Eskers. The first line is great! "I remember being pestered by a sense of dread as I walked to my car that day, pressed down by a wave of foreboding that swirled around my head and broke against the evening in small ripples."


message 32: by Selene (new)

Selene The circus arrives without warning.
- The Night Circus

Yes yes I know it's technically 6 years but still!


message 33: by Arpit (new)

Arpit The opening lines of Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts --

"It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn't sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it's all you've got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life."


message 34: by Kris (new)

Kris "It began with my father not wanting to see the Last Rabbit and ended up with my being eaten by a carnivorous plant."

Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde

A whopping 8 years ago, but SO hoping a sequel might still be in the works!!!


message 35: by Doug (new)

Doug Walsh Love it! Every year I go through all the books I read the prior year (novels only) and discuss the opening line from each book on my author blog. (www.dougwalsh.com)

The Nightingale was one of my favorite reads of 2016. I can't remember ever highlighting more of a book's opening chapter than I did with that book. It was right up there alongside the opening line from The Time Traveler's Wife as one of my favorites from my reading last year.


message 36: by Cardinal (new)

Cardinal I hate The Martian with all of my heart though I'll admit, it does have a great opening line that encourages you to read on a bit.


message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

"Yeah, I know. You guys are going to read about how I die in agony, and you're going to be like, 'Wow! That sounds cool, Magnus! Can I die in agony, too?'"- I love this quote!!!


message 38: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence Carrington "I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife's grave. Then I joined the army."
John Scalzi, Old Man's War


message 39: by ju_9 (new)

ju_9 Robert wrote: "Delilah Bard—always a thief, recently a magician, and one day, hopefully, a pirate—was running as fast as she could. -- A Conjuring of Light: A Novel"
yeah it's my favorite too


message 40: by Jen (new)

Jen That Seveneves first line stuck with me for a long time when/while I read that book. (I have a horrible memory, so usually first lines are read and forgotten almost immediately.)


message 41: by Avinash (new)

Avinash Not from the last five years, still:
A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of
communism.

- Manifesto of the Communist Party


message 42: by Hutch (new)

Hutch Hiba Samad Khan wrote: "I am so happy I am Malala is there on the list because that line is just so true and beautiful. I love it!"

I know! I love that opening!


message 43: by Al (new)

Al Lock "Thomas Jefferson's influence on American political history outstrips that of any other figure."

Thomas Jefferson Revolutionay: A Radical's Struggle To Remake America by Kevin R.C. Gutzman


message 44: by Amit (new)

Amit Shetty "The year is 1984. Aomame sits in a taxi on the expressway in Tokyo."

Little did I realize when I opened the book back then that I was in for the ride of my life.

1Q84 (All 3 volumes) by Haruki Murakami


message 45: by Debra (new)

Debra "The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World." --Libba Bray, "Going Bovine (about a 16-year old boy on a crazy road trip while dying from Mad Cow's Disease


message 46: by Steven (new)

Steven "I died first, so I made cookies."

~Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs


message 47: by Elyse (new)

Elyse Sabra wrote: ""DAWN WAS COMING. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts."

Kingkiller Chronicles 2, The Wise Man's Fear

Patrick Rothfuss"


Yes! Well, the first and last chapters of -both- books are killer!


message 48: by Elyse (last edited Mar 24, 2017 06:12AM) (new)

Elyse I make note in my review when I love a first line but now I'm thinking I should make a shelf too so I can go back to them!

These are two the I remember well and they are YA books:

"I swore to myself I wouldn't die that day." - Nemesis by Brendan Reichs

"The dead girl hung upside down above our kitchen table." - Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett


message 49: by Elyse (new)

Elyse Santiago wrote: "Ohhh, I see.

"Some minutes later, as he read a comment, book lover Santiago Ortiz was to remember that not so distant afternoon (actually the same afternoon) when he misread the title of the post.""


HAHA!!


message 50: by Sally (new)

Sally Kilpatrick “To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.” --from Deanna Raybourn's Silent in the Grave


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