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Captivating First Sentences of the 21st Century

We searched our library for awesome stories with riveting first sentences.

  1. The Amber Spyglass: His Dark Materials Book Cover Picture

    The Amber Spyglass

    “In a valley shaded with rhododendrons, close to the snow line, where a stream milky with meltwater splashed and where doves and linnets flew among the immense pines, lay a cave, half-hidden by the crag above and the stiff heavy leaves that clustered below.”

  2. The Blind Assassin Book Cover Picture

    The Blind Assassin

    “Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.”

  3. Atonement Book Cover Picture


    “The play—for which Briony had designed the posters, programs, and tickets, constructed the sales booth out of a folding screen tipped on its side, and lined the collection box in red crêpe paper—was written by her in a two-day tempest of composition, causing her to miss a breakfast and a lunch.”

  4. The Cloud Atlas Book Cover Picture

    Cloud Atlas

    “Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn, strand, I happened on a trail of recent footprints.”

  5. Shadow of the Wind Book Cover Picture

    The Shadow of the Wind

    “I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time.”

  6. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Book Cover Picture

    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

    “They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Tainos, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles.”

  7. Dead Until Dark Book Cover Picture

    Dead Until Dark

    “I’d been waiting for the vampire for years when he walked into the bar.”

  8. The Slap Book Cover Picture

    The Slap

    “One September evening when Walter Lasher returned from the city after a hard day’s work and was walking to his car in the station parking lot, a man stepped out from between two cars, walked up to him, and slapped him hard in the face.”

  9. Ready Player One Book Cover Picture

    Ready Player One

    “Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the contest.”

  10. The Fault in Our Stars Book Cover Picture

    The Fault in Our Stars

    “Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.”

  11. The Boys in the Boat Book Cover Picture

    The Boys in the Boat

    “This book was born on a cold, drizzly, late spring day when I clambered over the spit-rail cedar fence that surrounds my pasture and made my way through wet woods to the modest frame house where Joe Rantz lay dying.”

  12. Origin Book Cover Picture


    “I’m told that the day I was born, Uncle Paolo held me against his white lab coat and whispered, ‘She is perfect.'”

  13. Redeployment Book Cover Picture


    “We shot dogs.”

  14. Station Eleven Book Cover Picture

    Station Eleven

    “Jeevan’s understanding of disaster preparedness was based entirely on action movies, but on the other hand, he’d seen a lot of action movies.”

  15. The Martian Book Cover Picture

    The Martian

    “I’m pretty much fucked.”

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