One of the best feelings in the world is the sensation you get upon opening a new book and reading a line that grabs you, pulls you close, and promises to not let go until you’ve read the very last word on the very last page. These are some of my favorite first lines from novels.

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank.

Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carrol

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

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 Garcia Marquez

They shoot the white girl first.

Paradise, Toni Morrison

They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Tainos, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles.

The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz

The boy’s name was Santiago.

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

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

You better not never tell nobody but God.

The Color Purple, Alice Walker

The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast sea, is a land famous for its wizards.

A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin

Want more brilliant first sentences?Here are a hundred of ’em. What are YOUR favorite first lines?

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