The Most Arresting Opening Lines

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“I am a lawyer and I am in prison.”…They can be absurd, cynical, poetic, sarcastic, or unexpected, and their importance is undeniable. The opening line has the power to draw you into a book in anticipation of the the words that follow. Here we have collected some of the most evocative opening lines, which may influence your next choice of a book to read.

“I am a lawyer and I am in prison.” ­ — The Racketeer by John Grisham


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“Justice? — You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law.” — William Gaddis, A Frolic of His Own


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“Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.” — Ha Jin, Waiting


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“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


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“It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.” — Paul Auster, City of Glass


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


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“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” — L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between


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Photos: Shutterstock

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