Share 17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

Kerry Fiallo is a New York native and copywriter at Simon & Schuster. A lifelong voracious reader, she has a particular fondness for ghost stories, history, and anything to do with Mary Shelley, Ada Lovelace, and the Brontë sisters. The only thing she may love more than books is black tea, but they do often go well together. You can find her as she navigates through literature and history on Twitter @ReadingInNYC and on Tumblr.

A new year means a fresh start, and a fresh start on a fantastic book is exactly what we are looking forward to. So we’re starting off 2017 with 17 of our favorite first lines from books. Happy New Year! And Happy Reading!


Slaughterhouse-Five
Kurt Vonnegut

The absurdist tale of Billy Pilgrim -- an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden -- and his odyssey through time has become a classic of anti-war fiction and reading lists everywhere.

MENTIONED IN:

13 High School Classics Worth Rereading

By Julianna Haubner | April 18, 2017

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again: 11 Books to Celebrate Daylight Saving Time

By Julianna Haubner | March 9, 2017

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

Reading the War: 10 Novels Tell the Stories of WWII

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 5, 2014

Close

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger
by Stephen King
The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.
The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger
Stephen King

For almost a decade, Stephen King fans have been yearning to see this epic series on the big screen, and they’ll finally get their wish with this adaptation, starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. It tells the story of the fallen land of Mid-World, through the eyes of a knight whose primary mission is to save his decaying world by reaching the titular tower that stands at the intersection of time and space. This mix of horror, western, and sci-fi will be a must-see. RELEASE DATE: February 17, 2017

MENTIONED IN:

13 Stephen King Books for Every Kind of Reader

By Sarah Jane Abbott | September 21, 2017

Read These Books Before You Watch The Dark Tower Movie

By Chris Gaudio | July 31, 2017

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

Pass the Popcorn: 10 Books to Read Before They Hit the Big Screen

By Julianna Haubner | August 11, 2016

17 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Stephen King Books

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 16, 2014

Close

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
by Tom Franklin
The Rutherford girl had been missing for eight days when Larry Ott returned home and found a monster waiting in his house.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
Tom Franklin

Seamlessly blending elements of crime and Southern literary fiction, CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER is the powerful and resonant story of two boyhood friends. Torn apart by circumstance, they are brought together again by a terrible crime in a small Mississippi town.

MENTIONED IN:

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

13 Fantastic Books Sure to Get Your Book Club Talking

By Erica Nelson | June 16, 2016

Close

Rebecca
by Daphne Du Maurier
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
Rebecca
Daphne Du Maurier

I watched the classic Hitchcock film of Daphne Du Maurier’s gothic masterpiece starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine for the first time in years the other night, and in loving it was reminded of how much I also loved the book. Is there a first line of a novel more evocative than “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”? Only Hitchcock could do justice to the moodiness and plot twists of Du Maurier’s genius work.

MENTIONED IN:

The 5 Best Books I’ve Read This Month

By Meagan Harris | November 8, 2017

10 Spooky Literary Locations to Spend Your Halloween

By Kerry Fiallo | October 31, 2017

Our 13 Favorite Ghost Stories—Just in Time for Halloween!

By Off the Shelf Staff | October 26, 2017

8 Books with Grand Houses as Characters

By Claire McMillan | July 24, 2017

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

Second Wives, Detached Husbands, and a House Full of Secrets

By Kerry Fiallo | October 31, 2016

Close

The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah
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.
The Nightingale
Kristin Hannah

With courage, grace, and powerful insight, Kristin Hannah illuminates an intimate and seldom seen part of World War II. Telling the stories of two sisters separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion, and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in war-torn France, this heartbreakingly beautiful novel celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.

MENTIONED IN:

Our Favorite Bookish Pets Read, Recommend, and Repeat

By Erin Flaaen | August 25, 2017

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

13 Books Bird Lovers Will Flock To

By Amy Hendricks | September 20, 2016

Jump into Spring with These Book Club Picks

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | April 21, 2015

Close

A Single Man
Christopher Isherwood

Delicately wrenching, mourning and memory, the story of a spouse, newly alone, and the uncertain life now before him. - Scott O'Connor

MENTIONED IN:

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

12 LGBTQIA+ Novels to Celebrate Pride Month

By Erica Nelson | June 23, 2016

Complicated Arrangements: Five Intimate Novels About Marriage

By Off the Shelf Staff | August 5, 2014

Close

Infinite Jest
by David Foster Wallace
I am seated in an office, surrounded by heads and bodies.
Infinite Jest
David Foster Wallace

"I had a friend in college who claimed this was his favorite book, so I bought a copy and planned to read it over a break. I got about 200 pages in, and my head started spinning, so I stopped (though in my defense, I have made other attempts). I’m pretty sure that’s as far as he got, too, considering the only thing we ever talked about were the first 2 chapters. . ." — Julianna

MENTIONED IN:

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

The Shelf of Shame: 7 Books We Never Finished

By Off the Shelf Staff | January 13, 2015

Longer is Better: 7 Great Big Novels to Keep You Happily Reading Into 2015

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 4, 2014

Close

The Secret History
by Donna Tartt
The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.
The Secret History
Donna Tartt

If your favorite character is Jonathan Byers

The misunderstood, unhappy kid who yearns for an East Coast college where he can forget his modest upbringing and meet sufficiently interesting friends? Sounds like Richard Papen, the narrator of Donna Tartt’s first novel, THE SECRET HISTORY.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Books You Should Read Based On Your Favorite “Stranger Things” Character

By Glommable | May 29, 2017

11 Books That Remind Us There’s No Place Like Home

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2017

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

11 Hands-Down Favorites from a Bestselling Mystery Writer

By Ruth Ware | May 17, 2016

11 Books on Our Holiday Wish Lists—Gift Wrap Not Required

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 10, 2015

11 Novels Set in the Hallowed Halls of Academia

By Julianna Haubner | September 15, 2015

Close

The Left Hand of Darkness
by Ursula K. Le Guin
I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.
The Left Hand of Darkness
Ursula K. Le Guin

The very best science fiction creates deeply immersive, textured worlds that at the same time reveal something about the way we live today. More than forty years after its publication, Ursula Le Guin’s novel still challenges our notions of gender and remains a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.

MENTIONED IN:

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

12 LGBTQIA+ Novels to Celebrate Pride Month

By Erica Nelson | June 23, 2016

11 Must-Reads Selected by a Bestselling Author

By Eloy Bleifuss Prados | August 26, 2015

Close

Warm Bodies
Isaac Marion

In this unexpected retelling of Romeo and Juliet, R is having a no-life crisis—he is a zombie. And then he meets Julie, a blast of living color in his gray landscape. However, their unlikely bond will cause ripples they can’t imagine, and their hopeless world won’t change without a fight.

MENTIONED IN:

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

11 Contemporary Retellings of Classic Literature

By Sarah Jane Abbott | June 16, 2015

Close

City of Glass
by Paul Auster

It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.

City of Glass
Paul Auster

It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.

MENTIONED IN:

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

Close

We So Seldom Look on Love
by Barbara Gowdy

In the apartment building across from theirs, six storeys above the ground, a cat walks along a balcony railing.

We So Seldom Look on Love
Barbara Gowdy

In the apartment building across from theirs, six storeys above the ground, a cat walks along a balcony railing.

MENTIONED IN:

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

Close

Boy, Snow, Bird
by Helen Oyeyemi
Nobody ever warned me about mirrors, so for many years I was fond of them, and believed them to be trustworthy.
Boy, Snow, Bird
Helen Oyeyemi

This widely acclaimed novel brilliantly recasts the fairy tale Snow White as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity. It boldly confronts the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.

MENTIONED IN:

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

14 Boy Books for Long Summer Days

By Sarah Jane Abbott | August 2, 2016

11 Contemporary Retellings of Classic Literature

By Sarah Jane Abbott | June 16, 2015

Close

Their Eyes Were Watching God
Zora Neale Hurston

MENTIONED IN:

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

Growing Up Zora: What Literature Can Teach You About Home

By Meg Miller | August 1, 2014

Close

Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides
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.
Middlesex
Jeffrey Eugenides

MENTIONED IN:

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

14 Novels That Portray Diverse and Resilient American Families

By Erica Nelson | November 24, 2016

Celebrating 100 Years of Pulitzer Prize-Winning Fiction

By Erin Flaaen | April 12, 2016

11 Ground-breaking LGBTQ Novels

By Emma Volk | February 4, 2016

Being Born Twice Sometimes Works Better: Jeffrey Eugenides’s MIDDLESEX

By Susan Rella | March 4, 2014

Close

Raising Steam
by Terry Pratchett

It is hard to understand nothing, but the multiverse is full of it.

Raising Steam
Terry Pratchett

It is hard to understand nothing, but the multiverse is full of it.

MENTIONED IN:

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

Close

The Sympathizer
by Viet Thanh Nguyen
I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces.
The Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, this profound, startling, and beautifully crafted spy novel is the story of a man whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties. An astute exploration of extreme politics, as well as a moving love story, THE SYMPATHIZER examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.

MENTIONED IN:

12 Debut Novels You Won’t Want to Miss

By Taylor Noel | March 21, 2017

15 Stories of Betrayal to Read for the Ides of March

By Taylor Noel | March 15, 2017

17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017

By Kerry Fiallo | January 3, 2017

11 Powerful Books That Explore the Legacy of the Vietnam War

By Erica Nelson | May 26, 2016

Close

Thank you for joining our email list!

If you create and Off the Shelf account, you'll be able to save books to your personal bookshelf, and be eligible for free books and other good stuff.

Click here to create your free account.

You must be logged in to add books to your shelf.

Please log in or sign up now.