August 13, 2018

Famous First Lines

Good writers know how to draw their readers in from the very first sentence. They may their readers curious enough to feel that they have to see how the story unfolds. That's what you must do to the people who read your SAT essay and college applications.

You want your first line to be as memorable as this meme.
To provide inspiration, I've collected first lines from a variety of books.

"I suppose I realized that I ought to consider another line of work when I nearly puked on the Vice President of the United States." Daniel Pink, Free Agent Nation

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

"By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher." Gary Thomas (quoting Socrates), Sacred Marriage

"You are a little soul carrying around a corpse." Annie Cheney, Body Brokers

"In September 2008, a country disappeared off the face of the planet." Nicholas Dunbar, Inventing Money

"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." Star Wars

"People are often surprised to hear that, unlike General Mills' mythical Betty Crocker, there really is a Stanley H. Kaplan behind Kaplan, Inc." Stanley Kaplan, Test Pilot

"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

"When we were in junior high school, my friend Rich and I made a map of the school lunch tables according to popularity." Paul Graham, Why Nerds are Unpopular

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe." Mike Barrett (quoting Abraham Lincoln), The SAT Black Book

"What would you do right now if you learned that you were going to die in ten minutes?" Dan Gilbert, Stumbling On Happiness

"The first hedge-fund manager, Alfred Winslow Jones, did not go to business school." More Money than God

"Most Americans have forgotten about the great bathtub hoax of early last century." Thomas E. Woods, 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask

"There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold / and she's buying the stairway to heaven." Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven

"Do you want a chocolate? I could eat about a million and a half of these. My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get." Forrest Gump

"The willingness of a Wall Street investment bank to pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars to dispense investment advice to grown-ups remains a mystery to me to this day." Michael Lewis, The Big Short

"Twenty years ago, we began studying how people become wealthy." Stanley and Danko, The Millionaire Next Door

"Suppose you wanted to get rid of economic inequality." Paul Graham, Inequality and Risk

"These days, it seems like any idiot with a laptop computer can churn out a business book and make a few bucks. That's certainly what I'm hoping." Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle

"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

"Just after October 6, 2008, when Iceland effectively went bust, I spoke to a man at the International Monetary Fund who had been flown in to Reykjavic to determine if money might responsibly be lent to such a spectacularly bankrupt nation." Michael Lewis, Boomerang

"Eight years elapsed between my last SAT, which I took as a senior in high school, and the first time I was asked to tutor reading for the SAT. I distinctly remember sitting in Barnes and Noble, hunched over the Official Guide, staring at the questions in horror and wondering how on earth I had ever gotten an 800 at the age of 17." Erica Meltzer, The Critical Reader

"16.62%. That figure is the annualized return that the Yale University endowment has returned per year between 1985 and 2008." Mebane Faber, The Ivy Portfolio

"What is it that distinguishes the thousands of years of history from what we think of as modern times?" Peter L. Bernstein, Against the Gods

"This is a book about leaving the church." Packard and Hope, Church Refugees

"What, exactly, is a bubble?" Mebane Faber, Global Value

"The simplest things in life are often the most profound." Os Guiness, God In the Dark

"I have no intention of explaining how the correspondence which I now offer to the public fell into my hands." C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

"There is nothing in the world more perfect than a slide rule." Hope Jahren, Lab Girl


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