Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Openers and Closers (and a bit in between)

As I was site flicking the other night I came upon Style (UK version) and their collection of “100 best” concerning books.  Couldn’t resist browsing and came back with a shopping bag full of great book lines.  Here are the picks of best openers, middlers, and closers from books (well, in my opinion, of course):

Awesome Openers:

“Call me Ishmael.” Moby-Dick, Herman Melville

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.”
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

“This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.”
The Princess Bride, William Goldman


It was a pleasure to burn.” Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Middle Memorables

“She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“Your hair wants cutting.” Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

“All morons hate it when you call them a moron.” Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

“I could get you strung up in a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.”
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

“Fool: Cry you mercy, I took you for a join-stool” King Lear by William Shakespeare

Catchy Closers:

“He loved Big Brother.” 1984 George Orwell

“It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” A  Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

“Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this.” Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

“‘From the Land of Oz,’ said Dorothy gravely. ‘And here is Toto, too. And oh, Aunt Em! I’m so glad to be at home again!'” The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum

“He was soon borne away 
by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.”
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

“And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.” Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

“He turned out the light and went into Jem’s room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.” To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

What are you favorite lines?

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5 thoughts on “Openers and Closers (and a bit in between)

  1. You have a lot of my favorites! Boy this is a good post and I wish I could remember all my favorite lines. Here are a few I dug up on the fly:

    “I cried for T.J. For T.J. and the land.” — (last sentence) Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor.

    “The first thing the boy Garion remembered was the kitchen at Faldor’s farm. For all the rest of his life he had a special warm feeling for kitchens….” — (first sentence) Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings.

    “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” — (first sentence) Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

    “When they tried to pull his skeleton away from the one he held in his arms it crumbled into dust.” — (last sentence) The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo.

  2. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

    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 & Prejudice

    Plus the first opening paragraphs from the Nora Roberts novel Black Hills. So funny since they are told from a child’s perspective but so wonderful at evoking how that child is feeling about his life and the prospect of staying with his grandparents for the summer.

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