Top Ten Tuesday: Best Beginnings

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is about beginnings and endings of books. I’m going to focus on beginnings.

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10. The first paragraph of Moby Dick by Herman Meville has the lovely image of “damp dreary November of my soul” and I love the imagery in that first paragraph. “Call me Ishmael” isn’t as strong to me, but that imagery is perfect for the feeling invoked by the entire book.

9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte brings us this beauty:

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.

I love the twist in the next paragraph, where we discover young Jane is glad there is no chance of a walk.

8. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 has such a strange beginning, one must keep reading. Why is burning good? Or is it?

It was a pleasure to burn.

7. Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca is a favorite for many reasons too. Why isn’t she in Manderley? What and where is Manderley? So many questions in one sentence.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

6. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy brings up the subject of families.

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way

5. I have always loved Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.

All children, except one, grow up.

4. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White drags you right in.

“Where’s Papa going with that ax?”

3. I did not love Kafka’s Metamorphosis, but one can’t deny the strength of its opening line.

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

2. One of the most well known is, of course, Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities. I love the comparisons and the irony in this passage:

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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

1. The best beginning is definitely Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.


About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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