Favourite First Lines

I don’t know about you, but I love the first lines of books. There’s something extra special about a first line. I mean, you only get one first line per book. Even JK Rowling – with all her millions of fans and all her thousands of pages and all her hundreds of characters – even she has only got eight first lines.

That’s why I love them. Because they’re exceptionally rare.

Reading a great first line is like stepping into a kitchen where something delicious is bubbling away, and having a sniff. It should make you hungry, but at the same time, almost make you feel like you’re full up. That’s what a first line is. Something that reaches deep down in your stomach and sets your whole body rumbling.

If I go into a bookshop, I always pick up books, searching for a good first line. I have a list of my favourites. Tell me yours too, and if they’re good enough, I might add them to this page!

First Lines by Children I visited at City of London School July 2013

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.” —Feed, by M.T. Anderson.

This is my favourite ever first line. It’s funny and horrifying, clever and stupid, poetic but simple all at once. It still gives me shivers. M.T. Anderson is a great writer.

“Something was upsetting the angels.” —A Web of Air, by Philip Reeve.

So mysterious and unexpected. Angels? You mean they’re real? But what could upset an ANGEL? It’s ominous but also quirky. And we have to know the answer. Philip Reeve is a writer who just gets more masterful with each book.

“It was the day my grandmother exploded.” —The Crow Road, by Iain Banks.

Wow. What I love about this one is how boring it is until the last word, then… BOOM! You what?! She EXPLODED? HOW??? It’s a wicked, nasty, hilarious, spooky line – it really could have been written by Roald Dahl.