Thursday, June 14, 2012

Today's Trivia – Opening Lines From Popular Books

This week’s useless but interesting information is opening lines from some well-known books. See how many you recognize.

(Note: I haven’t verified all the information below to make sure it’s accurate, so if you notice any errors, just leave a comment.)

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens

“A squat grey building of only thirty-four storeys. Over the main entrance the words, Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, and, in a shield, the World State's Motto, Community, Identity, Stability.”
Brave New World
Aldous Huxley

“It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him. Yossarian was in the hospital with a pain in his liver that fell just short of being jaundice.”
Joseph Heller

“On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. Bridge.”
Crime and Punishment
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
J.K. Rowling

“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice `without pictures or conversation? ”
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”
Franz Kafka

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
George Orwell

“All children, except one, grow up.”
Peter Pan
J.M. Barrie

“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 was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs. Shears' house. Its eyes were closed.”
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mark Haddon

“Renowned curator Jacques Sauniere staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum's Grand Gallery.”
The Da Vinci Code
Dan Brown

“Amergo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had co cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her.”
The Godfather
Mario Puzo

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Douglas Adams

“When Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventyifirst birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.”
The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien

“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

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.”
Vladimir Nabokov

“I am a citizen of the United States of America. Our government has been overthrown. Our elected President has been exiled. Old white men wielding martinis and wearing dickies have occupied our nation's capital.”
Stupid White Men
Michael Moore

“Call me Ishmael”
Herman Melville

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

“You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter.”
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
The Catcher in the Rye
J. D. Salinger

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”
David Copperfield
Charles Dickens

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

“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.”
Jeffrey Eugenides

“I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good Family, tho' not of that Country, my Father being a Foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull; He got a good Estate by Merchandise, and leaving off his Trade, lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my Mother, whose Relations were named Robinson, a very good Family in that Country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual Corruption of Words in England, we are now called, nay we call our selves, and write our Name Crusoe, and so my Companions always call'd me.”
Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Defoe

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since."
The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald

“You better not never tell nobody but God.”
The Color Purple
Alice Walker

“In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together.”
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Carson McCullers

“When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.”
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee

“Mother died today."
The Stranger
Albert Camus

“My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered.”
The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold


  1. Fascinating! All we need is that one great line to get us started on our bestseller :)

    1. I know. Sometimes that's how I choose a book. I read the first page and it if starts off interesting, I continue. Mind you, it never guarantees that the rest of the book is good!

  2. LOL @ Jane! I have always thought that the greatest opening line is "Call me Ishmael." But I imagine it with a pregnant pause in it to heighten its mysteriousness and foreboding -- "Call me . . . Ishmael."

    1. Too bad the author didn't think of that pause at the time. It certainly would add some drama to it.

  3. Well, as usual I see that I have not educated myself with most of the literature greats. I have heard of a couple but had no idea what book it was from. But I did know the Tolkien one! :)

    1. Some of them I didn't recognize either. But being an avid reader, there are many that were familiar.