Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Year of Reading: Best First Lines of 2015

I’ve said before that first sentences are like a book’s doorknob. Turn. Push. Enter. Here are the best opening lines from books published in 2015 which beckoned us inside their pages.

When I was born, the doctor said, “I’m sorry.”
Above Us Only Sky
by Michele Young-Stone

The happiest moment of my father’s life was finding his name on President Richard M. Nixon’s enemies list.
by Charles Haverty

They found him inside one of seventeen cauldrons in the courtyard, steeping in an indigo dye two shades darker than the summer sky.  His arms and chin were propped over the copper edge, but the rest of Kemal Turkoglu, age ninety-three, had turned a pretty pale blue.
Orhan’s Inheritance
by Aline Ohanesian

Jimmy Teach left professional football at the age of twenty-four, and his life went into a fast fall.
Suitcase City
by Sterling Watson

I’d been demoted and was shoveling slide-back and minding my own business when they found Dwayne Mays’s body in a pile of gob.
Down Don’t Bother Me
by Jason Miller

If you’re reading this on a screen, fuck off. I’ll only talk if I’m gripped with both hands.
Book of Numbers
by Joshua Cohen

I was made in a small square dish.
Katherine Carlyle
by Rupert Thomson

As Jayne made final preparations to leave New York for Paris during the first few days of June, a heat wave turned the sky ashen with trapped pollution and unshed rain.
Paris, He Said
by Christine Sneed

When Lottie Wilkes opened her eyes on the morning of June 13, she congratulated herself on passing the one-year mark without having had sex with her husband.
Enchanted August
by Brenda Bowen

In the moment after Robert Mason’s condom broke he rolled off me, propped himself on his elbow, and said, “What you do doesn’t help anybody.”
The Sunlit Night
by Rebecca Dinerstein

The last known speakers of American English were garbagemen.
True False
by Miles Klee

It’s another brittle day, all of them inching over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco, their typical trek to cluttered desks, schlepping with their hangovers, their NPR, carpools and podcasts, prescription pills and nicotine patches, their high-def depressions, Lasik so they can see all their designer disaffections, lipstick smeared on bleached teeth, bags under their eyes or Botox time machines, bald spots or slick dye jobs, bellies wedged in pants or carved Pilates bodies, their urges to call in sick, their woulda coulda shouldas.
All This Life
by Joshua Mohr

I was staring out the classroom window and daydreaming of adventure when I spotted the flying saucer.
by Ernest Cline

It was late in the spring when I noticed that a girl was following me, nearly the end of May, a month that means perhaps or might be.
by Sarai Walker

Punting the prairie dog into the library was a mistake.
Gold Fame Citrus
by Claire Vaye Watkins

When I was growing up in the 1930s, the first four words I learned to read were Need Money? See Pete.
The Pawnbroker’s Daughter
by Maxine Kumin

In a beat-down house at the foot of a western butte, a woman sips her coffee and stares at her high school yearbook.
The Water Museum
by Luis Alberto Urrea

One day, my brilliant, beautiful, complicated mother appeared at my kitchen table, thirty-one years after her death.
The Year My Mother Came Back
Alice Eve Cohen

It was just after midnight in birthing room 4C and Dr. Sherman, the mustached obstetrician presiding over the delivery, was sweating lightly into his cotton underwear, holding out his hands like a beggar, ready to receive the imminent cranium.
I Am Radar
by Reif Larsen

Her name was Caitlin, she was eighteen, and her own heart would sometimes wake her–flying away in that dream-race where finish lines grew further away not nearer, where knees turned to taffy, or feet to stones.
by Tim Johnston

The sun shone hard and the wind billowed in from the west the day I first killed a man.
Old Silk Road
by Brandon Caro

On the last day of August in 1970, and a month shy of her fourteenth birthday, Jory’s father drove his two daughters out to an abandoned house and left them there.
The Girl Who Slept with God
by Val Brelinski

Daily, men descended into the earth, going where no man belonged, taking more than men deserved, their faces wracked with indifference, their hands dirtied with soot from the depths of the mountain.
American Copper
by Shann Ray

Related posts:
A Year of Reading: Best Books From Other Years
A Year of Reading: Best Poetry of 2015
A Year of Reading: Best Gift Book of 2015 for Bookworms
A Year of Reading: Best Short Stories of 2015
A Year of Reading: Best Book Cover Designs of 2015


  1. Thank you! These are all wonderful. Such great company.

  2. Love this round-up - and indeed all your bookish posts. Thank you, David.

  3. Another inspiration I need to follow! Yes to Armada, I was hooked as well

  4. Such a great round up! Descent is on my winter reading list and I'll be starting it this weekend.