Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.
This week’s theme is Top Ten Favorite Beginnings/Endings in Books. For me, I’ll focus mainly on opening lines or passages, but with a few endings thrown in as well. (No spoilers, I promise!)
1) A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: Can you get more perfect than this?
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…
2) Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell:
Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.
3) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: I love the entire prologue (and the entire book). This isn’t the first paragraph in the prologue, but it sums up the mood of the book so vividly:
Long ago, men went to sea, and women waited for them, standing on the edge of the water, scanning the horizon for the tiny ship. Now I wait for Henry. He vanishes unwillingly, without warning. I wait for him. Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is as slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting. Why has he gone where I cannot follow?
4) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: The entire introductory piece is so wonderful that I have to include the whole thing:
People disappear all the time. Ask any policeman. Better yet, ask a journalist. Disappearances are bread-and-butter to journalists.
Young girls run away from home. Young children stray from their parents and are never seen again. Housewives reach the end of their tether and take the grocery money and a taxi to the station. International financiers change their names and vanish into the smoke of imported cigars.
Many of the lost will be found, eventually, dead or alive. Disappearances, after all, have explanations.
5) The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell: The prologue is too long to include in its entirety, but here’s the very first sentence:
It was predictable, in hindsight.
And the last sentence of the prologue:
They meant no harm.
I love how the prologue lets us know that the actions in this story were taken with the best of intentions… but that things went horribly wrong. The rest of the novel explains the how and why, but the prologue is just perfect in setting the tone and the mood for everything that follows.
6) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams:
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.
Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
7) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman:
There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.
Ending with a bang:
8) A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: Yes, again! One of my very favorite book lines:
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.
9) Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: Proving that baseless optimism is as least quote-worthy:
I’ll think of it all tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then. Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.
10) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling: Is there a more satisfying ending than these three words?
All was well.
I was all ready to wrap up this post and consider it done, when my son pointed out to me that I left out something important. So here’s one more great beginning that really shouldn’t be overlooked:
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien:
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
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