There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. Great opening sentences…

Great opening lines.

As part of a monthly meme by the Classics Club we were asked about what are our favourite or most memorable opening lines.  I must admit that I immediately thought of  Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca: ‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.’  Of course this line is really memorable and the lovely Jessica from Bookwork Chronicles had bagged it!  No surprise that this would make the list.  This got me to thinking about great opening lines and how much of an impact they have.  I certainly don’t think I would be put off reading a book if the opening line didn’t pack a punch but I wonder if it does make a difference to how you think about the book.  My choice for the classics has to be:

‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.’ —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.  Spot on if you ask me!

In terms of other great openers Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book grabs your attention immediately. ‘There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife’.  You couldn’t stop reading after that could you?

I’ve picked ten openers, or more to the point I’ve thought about ten books that I love and taken a look at how they start:

  1. ‘My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip.’ Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.  This is a favourite.  Is this opener fantastic.  Probably not.  Does it make me like the book less.  Definitely not.
  2. ”My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie.’  The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.  I really loved this book and I think this is a great opener – ‘my name was Salmon’ – ‘was’ being the word that immediately draws your attention!
  3. ‘There was no possibility of taking a walk that day’.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  This is another one of my favourite books and yet I wouldn’t say the opening line really grabs me having taken a fresh look.  Did it stop me reading or picking up and reading again.  No.
  4. ‘It was night again.  The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.’  I had to cheat again here.  This is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.  I think this is a good opener – it makes me want to know what the three parts of silence are.  You?  Course I do love this book so my judgement might be a bit skewed!
  5. ‘At the height of the long wet summer of the Seventy-Seventh Year of Sendovani, the Thiefmaker of Camorr paid a sudden and unannounced visit to the Eyeless Priest at the Temple of Perelandro, desperately hoping to sell him the Lamora boy.’  The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.  Another great book – that opening line is a bit of a mouthful (or a mindful).  You pretty much know that you’re into the world of fantasy straight from the get go.
  6. ‘Ravens!  Always the ravens.  They settled on the gables of the church even before the injured became the dead.’  Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence.  I cheated again (this is becoming a habit).  Fantastic book.  I think I detect a theme of liking sentences that are short and punchy.
  7. ‘On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back.’  I am Legend by Richard Matheson.  This is a great opener I think – who are ‘they’ – you have to read on and find out!
  8. ‘When Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced  that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.’  Needs no introduction.  No really!  If you don’t know what this book is then (1) WTF (2) Are you serious; and (c) get out of that black hole and read LoTR now!  Ok it’s probably not got the same hook as some but Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is such a great book it couldn’t miss the list.  You straight away get the feeling of a story well told.  Put on your slippers and settle down in a comfy chair to read (a glass of nice red wouldn’t go amiss either).
  9. ‘Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents’ house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day.’  A beautiful and whimsical opening by Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a ship of her own making.
  10. ‘The Children were playing while Holston climbed to his death; he could hear them squealing as only happy children do.’  This has a definite hook.  Did it make you want to read?  if so – Wool by Hugh Howie

I’ve told you mine now tell me yours – just your favourite (you don’t have to go all out and find 10)


Classics Club – book list

As of January 2016 – I’ve updated my list – (1) because I’m not doing as well as I’d hoped! and (2) I’m taking part in a Vintage sci fi event so I’m hoping to help achieve both goals.

I’ve decided to take part in the Classics Club reading challenge.  I’ve chosen my 50 books and have decided to set myself the challenge to read these in a five year period.  My books are as follows (in no particular order and subject to change – because I might see something I like better!)(BTW do you have any idea how difficult it was coming up with 50 books for this – much more difficult than I anticipated?):  (I’m currently reviewing this list and have removed some of the books on here with a view to replacing them with others.

  1. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome (currently reading)
  2. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (currently reading)
  3. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  4. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  5. Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
  6. White Fang by Jack London – read and reviewed
  7. Waverley by Sir Walter Scott
  8. The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde – read and reviewed
  9. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
  10. War of the Worlds by H G Wells – read and reviewed
  11. Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury review here
  12. The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende
  13. The Once and Future King by T H White
  14. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
  15. The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
  16. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  17. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  18. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes review here
  19. Whiskey Galore by Compton MacKenzie
  20. The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
  21. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
  22. A Room with a View by E M Forster
  23. Legend by David Gemmell
  24. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson review here
  25. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  26. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
  27. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  28. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  29. Perfume by Patrick Suskind
  30. The Ghosts of Sleath by James Herbert review here
  31. Let the Right one in by John Ajvide Lindqvist
  32. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
  33. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare review here
  34. Beauty by Robin McKinley
  35. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones review here
  36. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Details of the challenge can be found here.

Total 1/50

The Classics Spin – final book choice

Okay, so yesterday I posted about a challenge being hosted by the Classics Club which I thought was a good idea to get me to read at least one of my long neglected books.  Anyway, I selected my 20 and posted them yesterday.  The winning number is 14 – so: The Ghosts of Sleath by James Herbert it is.

I must confess.  My biggest fear was : Les Miserables – don’t ask me why because I think it’s a great story – it’s just so mammoth!  My secret hope  was No.20 – Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.

Hope everybody got something they’ll love.


The Classics Spin

I’ve just signed up to take part in an event called the Classics Spin, details here and being hosted by the Classics Club.  Fortunately this isn’t really reading intensive but I think it’s a really great idea (picked up courtesy of a lovely blogger who you can find here should you wish to take a look).

Obviously it involves reading (dur) but it’s hopefully not too intensive (although I suppose that depends on which book is randomly selected! How many pages in Les Miserables?)   By Monday 18th you need to list a choice of twenty books – if you check out the blog it does say from your Classics Club list – which I don’t have!!  Hopefully nobody will mind if I take part.  I’ll just tiptoe in and post my list and wait to see what number pops up.  Then the challenge is to read whatever book is listed against this number in February and March.  Now, the idea is not to just pick 20 books that you would love – have a look at the books you’ve had sat waiting on your shelves, the ones you’ve been putting off reading – and put some of these on the list (and don’t be pretending you don’t have any because you know you do!  Those books have shown enough patience already and it’s there time to have a chance).  This could give you the impetus to pick them up and might also help you to stay on track with a New Year’s resolution?   So, without further ado my list is as follows: (and believe me, I’ve chosen books that I’ve had on my shelves for a long time and I would sooner read some of these than others – but I’m not giving any clues aways about which ones I’m dreading!) (apart from the last four I own all these books):

  1. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  2. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  3. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  4. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  5. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  6. The Unicorn by Iris Murdoch
  7. Three Men in a Boat
  8. The Birds by Daphne du Maurier
  9. A Passage to India by E M Forster
  10. Legend by David Gemmell
  11. Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy
  12. The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry
  13. The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson
  14. The Ghost of Sleath by James Herbert
  15. Twelfth Night by Shakespeare
  16. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  17. The Once and Future King by T H White
  18. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  19. The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde
  20. Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
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