Among first sentences in novels, the beginning of Pride and Prejudice is hard to beat.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
Seeking to cheer myself up after the Obamacare debacle, I began thinking about first lines and paragraphs in books. Some of my favorite novels have unremarkable beginnings. In fact, one of my absolute favorites, J. R. R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, starts with a sentence that positively repelled me at first:
When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.
Oh no, I thought, "Bilbo Baggins of Bag End"? "Eleventy-first birthday"? What is this, baby talk? What's next, Lollipop Lane?
Fortunately, I stuck with it. For those who haven't read it yet, it gets better in the second chapter and goes up from there.
But a good beginning can really sell the book--quite literally in my case a couple of days ago when I chanced upon the beginning of C.J. Box's thriller, Savage Run:
On the third day of their honeymoon, infamous environmental activist Stevie Woods and his new bride, Annabel Bellotti, were spiking trees in the forest when a cow exploded and blew them up. Until then, their marriage had been happy.
What about you? What are your favorite first lines or paragraphs in books?