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.
“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.”
“The capacity for friendship is God’s way of apologizing for our families.”
“A girl always remembers the first corpse she shaves.”
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.
“In my earliest memory, my grandfather is bald as a stone and he takes me to see the tigers.”
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.
“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.”
“It is impossible to fully appreciate the value of a trail until you have been forced to walk through the wilderness without one.”
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.
“The christening party took a turn when Albert Cousins arrived with gin.”
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?
“One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke.”
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.
“I looked up because of the laughter, and kept looking because of the girls.”
“A child’s talent to endure stems from her ignorance of alternatives.”
“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.”
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.
“The problem with good things that happen is that very often they disguise themselves as awful things.”
“I don’t recall my mood the morning I was born, but I imagine I felt a bit out of sorts.”
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.
“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.”
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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.