18 Striking First Lines to Start 2018

January 1 2018
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It’s the start of a new year. And the start of many new books! If you’re anything like us, you have lots of reading goals on your New Year’s Resolution list. Here are 18 of our favorite first lines to help you get a jumpstart on your reading goals and to celebrate the beginning of 2018.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
by Neil deGrasse Tyson

“In the beginning, nearly fourteen billion years ago, all the space and all the matter and all the energy of the known universe was contained in a volume less than one-trillionth the size of the period that ends this sentence.”

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Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Neil deGrasse Tyson

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
The Last of the Savages
by Jay McInerney

“The capacity for friendship is God’s way of apologizing for our families.”

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The Last of the Savages
Jay McInerney

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
by Caitlin Doughty

“A girl always remembers the first corpse she shaves.”

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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Caitlin Doughty

Why would anyone choose to become a mortician? Caitlin Doughty explains in her hands-on, candid, often-humorous romp through her employment in a crematorium. If you’ve wondered what happens when a body is cremated, Caitlin will set you straight, and also give you myriad macabre conversation-starters for your next cocktail party.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
The Tiger's Wife
by Téa Obreht

“In my earliest memory, my grandfather is bald as a stone and he takes me to see the tigers.”

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The Tiger's Wife
Téa Obreht

In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
The White Boy Shuffle
by Paul Beatty

“Unlike the typical bluesy earthy folksy denim-overalls noble-in-the-face-of-cracker-racism aw shucks Pulitzer-Prize-winning protagonist mojo magic black man, I am not the seventh son of a seventh son of a seventh son.”

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The White Boy Shuffle
Paul Beatty

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
On Trails
by Robert Moor

“It is impossible to fully appreciate the value of a trail until you have been forced to walk through the wilderness without one.”

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On Trails
Robert Moor

For the outdoorsy type

From tiny ant trails to hiking paths that span continents, from interstate highways to the Internet, ON TRAILS explores how trails help us understand the world. Drawing on his own globe-trotting adventures and findings in science, history, philosophy, and nature writing, Robert Moor reveals how trails can shed new light on age-old questions about humanity.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
Commonwealth
by Ann Patchett

“The christening party took a turn when Albert Cousins arrived with gin.”

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Commonwealth
Ann Patchett

Read with a Lime Spritzer

Citrus seems appropriate for a Southern California setting. At times funny and heart-wrenching, Patchett’s COMMONWEALTH covers a multigenerational saga that begins with a forbidden kiss. From there a road diverges for two families in very different ways. While Bert Cousins arrives at the fateful christening party with a bottle of gin, might we suggest a lime spritzer?

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
by Benjamin Alire Saenz

“One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke.”

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison and Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common, but as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime.

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MENTIONED IN:

June eBook Deals: 15 Splendid Reads for Your Digital Library

By Off the Shelf Staff | June 2, 2021

8 Cathartic Books That Had Us Crying By Chapter One

By Off the Shelf Staff | April 15, 2021

8 Must-Read Books by LGTBQ Authors to Pick Up This (And Every) Month

By Holly Claytor | June 17, 2020

The 10 Most Popular Reads of March

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 31, 2020

Lingering Last Words: 8 Of The Best Book Endings We’ve Read

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 9, 2020

The Gang’s All Here: 11 Wonderful Books About Friendship to Read Right Now

By Alice Martin | August 6, 2019

Close
The Girls
by Emma Cline

“I looked up because of the laughter, and kept looking because of the girls.”

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The Girls
Emma Cline

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
Rainbow in the Cloud
by Maya Angelou

“A child’s talent to endure stems from her ignorance of alternatives.”

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Rainbow in the Cloud
Maya Angelou

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
The Best Awful
by Carrie Fisher

“Suzanne Vale had a problem, and it was the one she least liked thinking about: She’d had a child with someone who forgot to tell her he was gay.”

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The Best Awful
Carrie Fisher

In this sequel to POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE, Carrie returns to Suzanne Vale, incorporating her own experiences with mental illness to take an intense—and humorous—look at bipolar disorder. When Suzanne decides to go off her meds, the results are disastrous. Suzanne’s “manic” side leads her to get a tattoo, cut off her hair, and head to Mexico, while her “depressive” side puts her through a series of surreal psychotic episodes before landing her in a mental hospital.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
The Bookshop on the Corner
by Jenny Colgan

“The problem with good things that happen is that very often they disguise themselves as awful things.”

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The Bookshop on the Corner
Jenny Colgan

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MENTIONED IN:

6 Books with Happy Endings That Give Us Hope for a Brighter Tomorrow

By Maddie Ehrenreich | April 21, 2020

Readers’ Choice: The Top 10 Most Shelved Books in February

By Off the Shelf Staff | February 23, 2018

12 More Books About Books for Big Book Nerds

By Taylor Noel | January 22, 2018

18 Striking First Lines to Start 2018

By Kerry Fiallo | January 1, 2018

Close
Spook
by Mary Roach

“I don’t recall my mood the morning I was born, but I imagine I felt a bit out of sorts.”

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Spook
Mary Roach

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
The Wordy Shipmates
by Sarah Vowell

“The only thing more dangerous than an idea is a belief.”

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The Wordy Shipmates
Sarah Vowell

Sarah Vowell makes me laugh, and she makes me feel smart just by reading her books. Here, she tackles the Puritans (figuratively, of course) and their desire to create the Shining City on the Hill. Sure, it sounds dry, but her prose is addicting and illustrative.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
Little Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng

“Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.”

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Little Fires Everywhere
Celeste Ng

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

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.”

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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.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
What Happened
Hillary Rodham Clinton

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close
Lilac Girls
by Martha Hall Kelly

“If I’d known I was about to meet the man who’d shatter me like bone china on terra-cotta, I would have slept in.”

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Lilac Girls
Martha Hall Kelly

An ode to the bravery and boundless determination of women, LILAC GIRLS follows three incredibly different yet equally inspiring women during World War II as they navigate the changes in their lives and surroundings. A young German doctor trapped in a field dominated by men and secrets, a Polish courier grasping for the ends of her innocence and youth as she falls further into the resistance, and an American socialite learning to prioritize duty over love are all thrust into the harrowing realm of war and its consequences.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books of July

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 30, 2021

Author Picks: My 6 Favorite Opening Lines of Literature

By Rémy Ngamije | July 29, 2021

10 Mystery Novels with Indomitable Female Sleuths

By Jennifer Proffitt | July 28, 2021

Editors Recommend: 10 Sizzling Reads for the Summer

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 27, 2021

10 Crowd-Pleasing Books That Are Easy to Love

By Chris Gaudio | July 26, 2021

9 Mesmerizing Books for Fans of All the Light We Cannot See

By Emily Lewis | July 22, 2021

Close

For more first lines, here’s a list of 17 of Our Favorite First Lines to Start 2017.

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