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BOOKS (FIRST LINES)
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[ Also see Books Books (Last Lines) Books (Quotes) Quotations ]

If you're going to read this, don't brother.
      - Chuck Palahnuik, Choke

The music throbbed in a voice of singular and delicate power; the air was resonant with melody, love and pain. The meanest Italian in the gallery far up beneath the ceiling, the most exalted of the land in the boxes and the stalls, leaned indulgently forward, to be swept by this sweet storm of song.
      - Sir Gilbert Parker, The Judgment House [1913]
         (book I, ch. I)

"Not guilty, your honor!"
      - Sir Gilbert Parker, The Right of Way [1901]

The village lay in a valley which had been the bed of a great river in the far-off days when Ireland, Wales and Brittany were joined together, and the Thames flowed into the Seine.
      - Sir Gilbert Parker, The Weavers [1907]

Christabel Caine sat by her open window writing "A Pleasant Incident of My Vacation" in the moments when there was nothing to distract her attention. But a good deal was happening this afternoon.
      - Anne Parrish, All Kneeling [1928] (ch. 1)

As she lay floating in the grey river that flows between sleeping and waking, Maggie Campion knew, without remembering why, that it was a happy day.
      - Anne Parrish, The Perennial Bachelor [1925]
         (ch. 1)

Usually Friday was a day of drooping flowers and fish that had begun to smell, drooping and smelling among dusty gods and goddesses, complained of by those aproned young ladies who were drawing from the antique, and frowned at intently by those whose still-life studies they were.
      - Anne Parrish, To-morrow Morning [1927] (ch. 1)

In one of those beautiful valleys, through which the Thames (not yet polluted by the tide, the scouring of cities, or even the minor defilement of the sandy streams of Surrey), rolls a clear flood through flowery meadows, under the shade of old beech woods, and the smooth glossy greensward of the chalk hills (which pour into it their tributary rivulets, as pure and pellucid as the fountain of Bandusium, or the wells of Scamander, by which the wives and daughters of the Trojans washed their splendid garments in the days of peace, before the coming of the Greeks); in one of those beautiful valleys, on a bold round-surfaced lawn, spotted with junipers, that opened itself in the bosom of an old wood, which rose with a steep, but not precipitous ascent, from the river to the summit of the hill, stood the castellated villa of a retired citizen.
      - Thomas Love Peacock, Crotchet Castle [1831]

Life is difficult.
      - Morgan Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

The black people who live in the Quarters at Blue Brook Plantation believe they are far the best black people living on the whole "Neck," as they call that long, narrow, rich strip of land lying between the sea on one side and the river with its swamps and deserted rice-fields on the other.
      - Julia Mood Peterkin, Scarlet Sister Mary [1928]

It was many and many a year ago,
  In a kingdom by the sea,
    That a maiden there lived whom you may know
      By the name of Annabel Lee;--
        And this maiden she lived with no other thought
          Than to love and be loved by me.
      - Edgar Allan Poe, Annabel Lee [1849]

"Listen to me," said the Demon as he placed his hand upon my head.
      - Edgar Allan Poe, Silence--A Fable,
        a short story

The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.
      - Edgar Allan Poe, The Cask of Amontillado [1846],
        a short story

During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was - but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.
      - Edgar Allan Poe,
        The Fall of the House of Usher [1838]

Many years ago, I contracted an intimacy with a Mr. William Legrand. He was of an ancient Huguenot family, and had once been wealthy; but a series of misfortunes had reduced him to want.
      - Edgar Allan Poe, The Gold Bug [1843]

The mental features discoursed of as the analytical, are, in themselves, but little susceptible of analysis. We appreciate them only in their effects. We know of them, among other things, that they are always to their possessor, when inordinately possessed, a source of the liveliest enjoyment.
      - Edgar Allan Poe,
        The Murders in the Rue Morgue [1841]

I was sick--sick unto death with that long agony; and when they at length unbound me, and I was permitted to sit, I felt that my senses were leaving me. The sentence--the dread sentence of death--was the last of distinct accentuation which reached my ears.
      - Edgar Allan Poe, The Pit and the Pendulum [1845]

TRUE!--nervous--very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses--not destroyed--not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily--how calmly I can tell you the whole story.
      - Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart [1845]

By late accounts from Rotterdam, that city seems to be in a high state of philosophical excitement. Indeed, phenomena have there occurred of a nature so completely unexpected--so entirely novel--so utterly at variance with preconceived opinions--as to leave no doubt on my mind that long ere this all Europe is in an uproar, all physics in a ferment, all reason and astronomy together by the ears.
      - Edgar Allan Poe,
        The Unparalleled Adventures of One Hans Pfall [1845]

He was thinking of the town he had known. Not of old New York--he had heard of that from old, old men when he himself had still been young and had smiled at their garrulity. He was thinking of a young New York, the mighty throbbing city to which he had come long ago as a lad from the New Hampshire mountains. A place of turbulent thoroughfares, of shouting drivers, hurrying crowds, the crack of whips and the clatter of wheels; an uproarious, thrilling town of enterprise, adventure, youth; a city of pulsing energies, the center of a boundless land; a port of commerce with all the world, of stately ships with snowy sails; a fascinating pleasure town, with throngs of eager travelers hurrying from the ferryboats and rolling off in hansom cabs to the huge hotels on Madison Square. A city where American faces were still to be seen upon all its streets, a cleaner and an kindlier town, with more courtesy in its life, less of the vulgar scramble.
      - Ernest Poole, His Family [1917] (ch. 1)

"You chump," I thought contemptuously. I was seven years old at the time, and the gentleman to whom I referred was Henry Ward Beecher. What it was that aroused my contempt for the man will be more fully understood if I tell first of the grudge that I bore him.
      - Ernest Poole, The Harbor [1915] (bk. 1, ch. 1)

It was on his fourteenth birthday that Keith Burton discovered the Great Terror, though he did not know it by that name until some days afterward. He knew only, to this surprise and distress, that the "Treasure Island," given to him by his father for a birthday present, was printed in type so blurred and poor that he could scarcely read it.
      - Eleanor Hodgman Porter, Dawn [1919]

Far up on the mountain-side stood alone in the clearing. It was roughly yet warmly built. Behind it jagged cliffs broke the north wind, and towered gray-white in the sunshine. Before it a tiny expanse of green sloped gently away to a point where the mountain dropped in another sharp descent, wooded with scrubby firs and pines. At the left a footpath led into the cool depths of the forest.
      - Eleanor Hodgman Porter, Just David [1916] (ch. 1)

The sun was slowly setting in the west, casting golden beams of light into the somber old room.
      - Eleanor Hodgman Porter, Mary Marie [1920] (ch. 1)

Father calls me Mary. Mother calls me Marie. Everybody else calls me Mary Marie. The rest of my name is Anderson. I'm thirteen years old, and I'm a cross-current and a contradiction. That is, Sarah says I'm that.
      - Eleanor Hodgman Porter, Mary Marie [1920]
         (preface)


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