Monday, January 27, 2014

New Contest - Identify Well-Known Books From 1st Lines

Thanks to Silk Questo, from the Fiction Writers Guild on LinkedIn, I have a contest for you.  I'm going to give you 25 1st lines from books that we've all heard of.  The person who gets the most right wins any book from my 2013 reading list (sound familiar?).  We'll run the contest through the end of the week, and I'll announce the winner next Monday. And to prevent copying from your neighbor's paper, you can email me directly at

P.S.  I think I got 3 or 4 - shameful.

1. “Call me Ishmael.”
2. “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
3. “A screaming comes across the sky.”
4. “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.”
5. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
6. “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.”
7. “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”
8. “I am a sick man … I am a spiteful man.”
9. “All this happened, more or less.”

10. “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.”
11. “It was a pleasure to burn.”
12. “Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.”
13. “Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.”
14. “You better not never tell nobody but God.”
15. “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.”
16. “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”
17. “In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together.”
18. “Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.”
19. “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

20. “They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.”
21. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
22. “They shoot the white girl first.”
23. “The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel.”
24. “It was love at first sight.”
25. “All children, except one, grow up.”


  1. I won't enter since I'm here to collect my prize, but during my first read through I know 9. There are a few others I could probably get given some time :)

  2. What do you mean you won't enter. If you can win multiple contests, why not? Please enter.

  3. Either I'm bad at remembering opening lines or I haven't read enough classics. I only know four of them. 1, 9, 15, 23. Probably everyone knows #1, I'm a fan of #9, I had to read #15 in high school and hated every minute of it - depressing, depressing, depressing and while I enjoyed #23, I had a horrible time following the plot and never did read the next two in the series.

  4. I knew 1,4,15, and 19. Pretty sad, I agree.

  5. I'm terrible! I only knew 1, 4, and 15. Of course, others were familiar, but I couldn't quite place them. Bad, bad, bad! I think Stacy needs to jump in since she knew 9!!

  6. Stacy, you heard Jasmine. You need to enter.

  7. We have a winner, people. Hannah Nielsen got 11, 1 more than Stacy. Nicely done. Hannah, pick your book and tell me where to send it.