Love Your Bookshop Day - Best First Sentence


To celebrate Love Your Bookshop Day we asked you to tell us the best first sentence of a book you have read.

Thank you to everyone who entered this competition and attended events at Avid Reader on Love Your Bookshop Day.  

We received 150 entries for the best first sentence of a book. We had opening sentences from books first published in 1859 to books published in July 2018. Many opening sentences dealt with death. We had several opening sentences submitted multiple times. We had paragraphs rather then sentences submitted. Your submissions remind us how many great books there are to read and how important an opening sentence is to a book.

Three Avid Reader staff read your entries and in a very subjective style determined a winner of the $100 Avid Reader Gift Voucher. 


A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way ....

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun.

1984 by George Orwell

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

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

It was a pleasure to burn.

The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower Book 1 by Stephen King

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

Neuromancer by William Gibson

The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.


Reckoning by Magda Szubanski

If you had met my father you would never, not for an instant, have thought he was an assassin.

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time nor I aint looking to see none again.

Girl at War by Sarah Novic

The war in Zagreb began over a packet of cigarettes.

Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters by Gail Giles

Things had been getting a little better until I got a letter from my dead sister.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland

In the weatherboard house at the end of the lane, nine-year-old Alice Hart sat at her desk by the window & dreamed of ways to set her father on fire.

Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landry

Gordon Edgeley's sudden death came as a shock to everyone - not least himself. 

He Died with a Felafel in His Hand by John Birmingham

He died with a felafel in his hand.

Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut

All this happened, more or less.

Bliss by Peter Carey

Harry Joy was to die three times, but it was his first death which was to have the greatest effect on him, and it is this first death which we shall now witness.

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty, Father James Monroe stood on the altar of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore.


Submitted by Cherie Josephson. Congratulations Cherie on this winning first sentence and a $100 Avid Reader Gift Vocuher.

Grand Days by Frank Moorhouse

On the train from Paris to Geneva, Edith Campbell Berry, at twenty-six, having heard the gong, made her way to the first sitting and her first lunch in a railway dining car.