The opening scene of a book can make or break it. The opening is a hook that keeps you reading; it’s your introduction to the world the author has created. We’ve compiled the 10 best opening scenes in some of our favorite books.
What makes a great opening scene? That really depends on the reader. While everyone is different, generally readers find that humor or an intriguing first few sentences, like a death, are the hook they need.
What the author leads with sets the tone for the book, so it needs to be something that will keep our interest.
The selections below are some recent Young Adult books alongside Adult classics. We’re very interested in hearing your choices, too.
Deana Raybourn – ‘Silent in the Grave’
“To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.”
Rick Riordan – ‘The Red Pyramid’
“We only have a few hours, so listen carefully. If you’re hearing this story, you’re already in danger. Sadie and I might be your only chance.”
Jane Austen – ‘Pride and Prejudice’
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
Nick Hornsby – ‘High Fidelity’
“These were the ones that really hurt. Can you see your name in that lot, Laura? I reckon you’d sneak into the top ten, but there’s no place for you in the top five; those places are reserved for the kind of humiliations and heartbreaks that you’re just not capable of delivering.”
Melina Marchetta – On Jellicoe Road
“My father took one hundred and thirty two minutes to die. I counted.”
Erin Morganstern – ‘The Night Circus’
“The circus arrives without warning.
No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
Rachel Hawkins – ‘Hex Hall’
“I stepped out of the car and into the hot thick heat of August in Georgia.
‘Awesome,’ I murmured, sliding my sunglasses on top of my head. Thanks to the humidity, my hair felt like it had tripled in size. I could feel it trying to devour my sunglasses like some sort of carnivorous jungle plant. ‘I always wondered what it would be like to live in somebody’s mouth.'”
Kami Garcia and Margret Stohl – ‘Beautiful Creatures’
“There were two kinds of people in our town. ‘The stupid and the stuck,’ my father had affectionately classified our neighbors. ‘Those who are bound to stay or too dumb to go. Everyone else finds a way out.'”
John Green – ‘The Fault in Our Stars’
“Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.”
Myra McEntire – ‘Hourglass’
“My small Southern home town is beautiful in the haunting way an aging debutante is beautiful. The bones are exquisite, but the skin could use a lift. You could say my brother, the architect, is Ivy Spring’s plastic surgeon.”
What is your favorite opening scene from a book?
We know we’ve missed plenty, so hit the comments with your favorites! This article can serve as a definitive answer to the question of best book openings.