Monday, March 15, 2010

Classic first lines of famous novels. Name the book. Or at least name the author. Or both if you are really good...

1. "They threw me off the hay truck about noon."

2. Call me Ishmael.

3. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

4. 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.

5. When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

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

7. It was a bright cold day in April, and all the clocks were striking thirteen.

8. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.

9. Whether or not I turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

10. Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.


  1. Alas, the Google Reader version of this shows the answers! I did know most of them though. My favorites are Pride and Prejudice and Catcher in the Rye :)

    I like your Paul Simon playlist too. Also your new template.

    Kudos all around!

  2. I am clearly very bad, but you knew that anyway. I can offer you 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9.

  3. I also like the new template.

    As an engineer with eclectic reading tastes, so I did not know all or even most of them. I did know, without hesitation:

    2 (though I've never read it), 3 (my favorite by this author), 4 (read, but never got the big deal), and 6 (one of my absolute favorites, no matter how Mark Twain feels about it).

    I had a guess for 5 (which was wrong, though I read the right book), and 7 (ditto with 5) and 8 (also wrong, but never read), but was clueless about 1 (never read), 9 (never read, though one of my sister's favorites) and 10 (never read).

    Still, I think this is a great idea and will probably steal it for a blog or two, today.

  4. Haven't read the others... but I had to take a shot:

    1. Don't have a clue.
    2. Moby Dick (hated it)
    3. A Tale of Two Cities (loved and hated it)
    4. Don't know (but adore David Copperfield)
    5. No idea.
    6. Pride and Prejudice
    7. No idea.
    8. No idea.
    9. David Copperfield
    10. No idea.

    Now that I consider it, though, I want to go see which ones I missed... now I know why... the only book of these that I have read was To Kill a Mockingbird... in 5th grade (or some time equally long ago).

  5. I have to admit Shakespeare's answers amazed me, though, admittedly, I think she focuses on more classic (i.e. older) literature. Still, I didn't take ANY classics in literature in college, and conscientiously don't read many of what today's classes consider "classics" and I had read five (and recognized three of those). Though I did recognize at least one I hadn't read. Weird.

    I'm kind of pleased I ended up answering the same number she did.

  6. 1:No idea
    2:Moby Dick. Herman Melville.I loved it, though it was tough going in places. I know more about the anatomy of the whale than I'll ever need.
    3:A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens..back to my schooldays. I remember the smell of that book, musty, damp, acrid.
    4:The Catcher in the Rye, J.D.Salinger.
    Holden Caulfield, a truculent moody teen if ever there was one.
    5:To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee. I remember being underwhelmed. Sorry.
    6:Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen...
    A surprisingly humorous book, I'd expected it to be worthily boring, but enjoyed it so much that I read her other books too.
    7:1984: George Orwell. Worth reading it back to back with 1985 by Anthony Burgess.
    8:? No Idea.
    9:David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens, I was a voracious reader of Dickens as a child, helped by the fact that my father had a full set of Dickens, which he was awarded as a school prize.
    10. No idea.

    Phew! Like being at school again.
    I shall await the answers, though I'd like to google "they threw me off the hay-truck about noon",
    I'll resist it.

    Great opening line-
    "It was the day my grandmother exploded"
    That was a "now read on" moment. If you or any of the commenters know whereit's from, I'll be very impressed, and surprised.

  7. @Lidian - Shhhhh!

    Pride and Prejudice and Catcher in the Rye? Whew! That's a long title! What's it about? Sounds like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures as time travelers when they went back in time and met So Crates. :)

    Wait, those are TWO books! Well, that's very different.

    No, neither of those is right.

    Thank you for the compliment on the "new look." It's just one of those new things that blogspot is now offering finally. Go play with it. (Go to, click on the LAYOUT link of the blog of your choice and then note the new "Template Designer" option in the top menu of the layout tab.) Thanks to A. for telling me about it.

  8. @A. - Well, they are mostly American books, I think. I have trouble reading in English. :) But you can be clearly very bad if you want to be.

    @Stephanie Barr - ::eyes her suspiciously. Then, tentatively:: Thank you. I'm glad you like it.

    I never saw the fuss over #4 either.

    Steal away. Like I invented it. :)

    @Shakespeare - You did pretty good. You'll do better tomorrow though. :)

    @Stephanie Barr - Leave Shakespeare alone, please. She has papers to grade and wasn't concentrating.

    @Soubriquet - You got #1, #8 and #10 right. But you are showing your ass by not appreciating the depth and wonder of #5. That's Harper Lee's picture at the top of the post by the way.

    I did know the one about Grandmother Exploding. Actually I saw it when I was checking the wording on some of my others, so I can't really claim it honestly. And we all know about my legendary honesty in these things. :)

  9. Harper Lee was a girl?????
    What sort of parent calls a baby girl 'Harper'?
    Harpist, anyway. alright, I can't really remember a lot of it. Boo Radley?

    You saw grandmother exploding? I think she ate too much whale.

  10. Harper Lee was a pen name. Her real name was George Eliot.



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