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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"The 25 Best Opening Lines in Western Literature"

I discovered Shmoop —  how exactly? I can't remember now. I do a lot of reading, as my students know, and somewhere I must have seen a reference to this website with an unusual name. I do remember trying out Shmoop and bookmarking it for future visits. And am I glad I did that!

In addition to providing help to students with a variety of academic subjects, Shmoop also gives popular culture a close look. You can read the guides to some brilliant books, including my recent favourite, The Hunger Games, (check out the "Why Should I Care?" portion for each book), and there is an excellent music section.

Today I was sucked in by "The 25 Best Opening Lines in Western Literature". From Gabriel Garcia Marquez to George Orwell and Toni Morrison to Douglas Adams, all the greats are represented. And we are also given Shmoop's speculative take on each author's creative thought process. Visit the site now. And also read the more than hundred responses to the list.

Which opening line is your favourite? I vote for J.D. Salinger's masterpiece in The Catcher in the Rye.

READERS RESPOND...
Shagorika Easwar, editor of Desi News and CanadaBound Immigrant: The 25 Best Opening Lines... is in itself a great opening line, guaranteed to draw me in!

Saw the list and have realised that though I thought I read quite a bit, I've read only nine of the books mentioned (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Moby Dick, Anna Karenina, Huck Finn, Pride and Prejudice, Catcher in the Rye, A Tale of Two Cities, The Hitchhiker's Guide, The Old Man and The Sea). Time to up the ante!

***
Ajay U. Pai, Christ Pre-University (P.U.) College student: I have a strong feeling I'm gonna start The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. His opening line is like "in-your-face" type. I'd love it...

And thank you so much for such a nice insight into so many different books with a nice opening. I plan to read most of them.

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Pratibha Rao, freelance journalist and media consultant: As always, The Reading Room is insightful.

Stole a few moments to visit Shmoop "25 famous first lines". Have posted the following comments:

The list is interesting with a few of my favourites. But I found the creative thought process explanations a bit cheesy. Why trivialise something amazing by explaining it?

The list also scared me into realising how many books there are out there I have not read... yet to read... probably will never read!

Though not belonging to the genre of the classics, here are my two all-time favourites:

Opener: She only stopped screaming when she died. 
Book: Kane and Abel 
Author: Jeffrey Archer

Opener: Howard Roark laughed.
Book: The Fountainhead 
Author: Ayn Rand

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