Opening lines Quotes



  • Marley was dead, to begin with.
    o A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

  • To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman.
    o ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), by Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the riverbank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book’, thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversation?’
    o Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

  • To get there you follow Highway 58, going northeast out of the city, and it is a good highway and new.
    o All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren.

  • ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE is scrawled in blood red lettering on the side of the Chemical Bank near the corner of Eleventh and First and is in print large enough to be seen from the backseat of the cab as it lurches forward in the traffic leaving Wall Street and just as Timothy Price notices the words a bus pulls up, the advertisement for Les Miserables on its side blocking his view, but Price who is with Pierce & Pierce and twenty-six doesn’t seem to care because he tells the driver he will give him five dollars to turn up the radio, “Be My Baby” on WYNN, and the driver, black, not American, does so.
    o American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

  • All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
    o Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.

  • If you were going to give a gold medal to the least delightful person on Earth, you would have to give that medal to a person named Carmelita Spats, and if you didn’t give it to her, Carmelita Spats was the sort of person who would snatch it from your hands anyway.
    o The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket


  • I’ve been called Bone all my life, but my name’s Ruth Anne.
    o Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

  • It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.
    o The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

  • It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills.
    o The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler

  • A squat grey building of only thirty-four storeys. Over the main entrance the words “Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre” and, in a shield, the World State’s Motto: “Community, Identity, Stability”.
    o Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

  • This is a tale of a meeting of two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast.
    o Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

  • The trawler plunged into the angry swells of the dark, furious sea like an awkward animal trying desperately to break out of an impenetrable swamp.
    o The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum


  • The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.
    o ‘The Call of Cthulhu’, by H. P. Lovecraft

  • Dr. Iannis had enjoyed a satisfactory day in which none of his patients had died or got any worse.
    o Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

  • Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.
    o Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood

  • It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.
    o Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

  • If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
    o The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.

  • They murdered him.
    o The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.
  • It was dark by the time I reached Bonn, and I forced myself not to succumb to the series of mechanical actions which had taken hold of me in five years of traveling back and forth: down the station steps, up the station steps, put down my suitcase, take my ticket out of my coat pocket, pick up my suitcase, hand in my ticket, cross over to the newstand, buy the evening newspaper, go outside and signal for a taxi.
    o The Clown by Heinrich Böll

  • A voice comes to one in the dark.
    o Company by Samuel Beckett

  • On an exceptionally hot evening in early July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge.
    o Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

  • It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs Shears’ house. Its eyes were closed.
    o The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon


  • When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.
    o The Day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham

  • Composite image, optically encoded by escort-craft of the trans-Channel airship Lord Brunel: aerial view of suburban Cherbourg, 14 October 1905.
    o The Difference Engine, by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling

  • Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself in dark woods, the right road lost.
    o The Divine Comedy, The Inferno by Dante Alighieri.


  • That’s good thinking there, Cool Breeze.
    o The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

  • Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
    o Emma by Jane Austen.

  • Like the brief doomed flare of exploding suns that registers dimly on blind men’s eyes, the beginning of the horror passed almost unnoticed; in the shriek of what followed, in fact, was forgotten and perhaps not connected to the horror at all.
    o The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty


  • It was a pleasure to burn.
    o Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

  • We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.
    o Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

  • riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend 1
    of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to 2
    Howth Castle and Environs.
    o Finnegans Wake James Joyce

  • His name was Gaal Dornick and he was just a country boy who had never seen Trantor before.
    o Foundation by Isaac Asimov


  • George is my name; my deeds have been heard of in Tower Hall, and my childhood has been chronicled in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
    o Giles Goat-boy by John Barth

  • Everyone had always said that John would be a preacher when he grew up, just like his father.
    o Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin

  • The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
    o The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley.

  • Amergo Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the men who had so cruelly hurt his daughter, who had tried to dishonor her.
    o The Godfather Mario Puzo

  • Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.
    o Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

  • To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.
    o The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

  • A screaming comes across the sky.
    o Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

  • 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.
    o Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

  • In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
    o The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.
    o The Dark Tower: The Gunsligner by Stephen King


  • ‘Now what I want is, Facts.’
    o Hard Times by Charles Dickens

  • Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
    o Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

  • Harry Potter was a very unusual boy in many ways.
    o Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

  • No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.
    o The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

  • The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest.
    o Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

  • Of Herbert West, who was my friend in college and in after life, I can speak only with extreme terror.
    o ‘Herbert West – Reanimator’, by H. P. Lovecraft

  • If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me thought Moses Herzog.
    o Herzog by Saul Bellow

  • Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun.
    o The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

  • In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
    o The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

  • Mr Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those not infrequent occasions when he stayed up all night, was seated at the breakfast table.
    o The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle


  • On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back.
    o I am Legend, Richard Matheson

  • When I was three and Bailey was four, we had arrived in the musty little town, wearing tags on our wrists which instructed – “To Whom It May Concern” – that we were Marguerite and Bailey Johnson Jr., from Long Beach, California, en route to Stamps, Arkansas, c/o Mrs. Annie Henderson.
    o I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

  • I looked at my notes and I didn’t like them. I’d spent three days at U.S. Robots and might as well have spent them at home with the Encyclopedia Tellurica.
    o I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

  • The village of Holcomb stands on the high wheat plains of western Kansas, a lonesome area that other Kansans call “out there.”
    o In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

  • For a long time, I went to bed early.
    o In Search Of Lost Time by Marcel Proust.

  • The stranger came early in February, one wintry day, through a biting wind and a driving snow, the last snowfall of the year, over the down, walking as it seemed from Bramblehurst railway station, and carrying a little black portmanteau in his thickly gloved hand.
    o The Invisible Man, H. G. Wells

  • The first time I read the ad, I choked and cursed and spat and threw the paper to the floor.
    o Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.


  • There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.
    o Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

  • Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians.
    o Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

  • It was seven o’clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee hills when Father Wolf woke up from his day’s rest, scratched himself, yawned, and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid of the sleepy feeling in their tips.
    o The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling



  • Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
    o Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

  • LOLITA, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.
    o Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

  • The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way towards the lagoon.
    o Lord of the Flies by William Golding

  • When Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventyfirst birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.
    o The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.
    o Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

  • My suffering left me sad and gloomy.
    o Life of Pi by Yann Martel


  • In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.
    o Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

  • Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth.
    o The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett

  • As Gregor Samsa awoke from a night of uneasy dreaming, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.
    o The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

  • Call me Ishmael.
    o Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.

  • Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.
    o Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

  • I was born in the city of Bombay ….. once upon a time.
    o Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie


  • The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
    o Neuromancer by William Gibson.

  • The night before he went to London, Richard Mayhew was not enjoying himself.
    o Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

  • It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
    o Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.

  • No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be a heroine.
    o Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen

  • Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening Hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen.
    o Northern Lights, by Philip Pullman

  • I am a sick man… I am a spiteful man. I am an unpleasant man. I think my liver is diseased.
    o Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky


  • A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hill-side bank and runs deep and green.
    o Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck

  • Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
    o One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.


  • It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
    o Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • All children, except one, grow up.
    o Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

  • Are you watching closely?
    o Alfred Borden, from the film The Prestige (note: these are also his penultimate words)

  • Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo…
    o A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man by James Joyce

  • The year that Buttercup was born, the most beautiful woman in the world was a French scullery maid named Annette.
    o The Princess Bride, William Goldman

  • It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
    o Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

  • My wound is geography.
    o The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy



  • Once upon a midnight dreary, as I pondered weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
    As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
    o ‘The Raven’, by Edgar Allan Poe.

  • Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
    o Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier

  • Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, inventor of the cornflake and peanut butter, not to mention caramel-cereal coffee, Bromose, Nuttolene and some seventy-five other gastronomically correct foods, paused to level his gaze on the heavyset women in front of him.
    o The Road to Wellville by T. Coraghessan Boyle

  • Two households, both alike in dignity,
    In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
    From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
    Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
    o Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare


  • Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence. If superior creatures from space ever visit earth, the first question they will ask, in order to assess the level of our civilization, is: “Have they discovered evolution yet?”
    o The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

  • Everyone now knows how to find the meaning of life within himself.
    o The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

  • All this happened, more or less.
    o Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

  • In the last years of the seventeenth century there was to be found among the fops and fools of the London coffee-houses one rangy, gangling flitch called Ebenezer Cooke, more ambitious than talented, and yet more talented than prudent, who, like his friends-in-folly, all of whom were supposed to be educating at Oxford or Cambridge, had found the sound of Mother English more fun to game with than her sense to labor over, and so rather than applying himself to the pains of scholarship, had learned the knack of versifying, and ground out quires of couplets after the fashion of the day, afroth with Joves and Jupiters, aclang with jarring rhymes, and sting-taut with similes stretched to the snapping point.
    o The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth

  • Robert Cohn was once middleweight boxing champion of Princeton. Do not think that I am very much impressed by that as a boxing title, but it meant a lot to Cohn.
    o The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway


  • It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…
    o A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

  • Nick Naylor had been called many things since becoming the chief spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies, but until now no one had actually compared him to Satan.
    o Thank You for Smoking: A Novel, by Christopher Buckley.

  • True! – nervous – very, very nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?
    o The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe.

  • Amory Blaine inherited from his mother every trait, except the stray inexpressible few, that made him worth while.
    o This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

  • The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us.
    o The Time Traveller, by H. G. Wells.

  • When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
    o To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.



  • It’s hot as hell in Martirio, but the papers on the porch are icy with the news.
    o Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre.

  • There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
    o The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis.

  • I am the vampire Lestat.
    o The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice.


  • No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were being scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
    o The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells

  • Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer’s wife.
    o The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum

  • 1801 – I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.
    o Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

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