My Favorite First Paragraph
I love collecting my favorite first lines and paragraphs from books. The beginning of a book sets the tone for the whole reading experience and I love the way they can sweep you into the story.
Something I love doing is collecting a stack of books from the library (mostly books I've put on hold since my toddler has no patience for browsing the stacks) and sitting down with them in kids section. While James plays, I open each book and read the first page- enough to get me excited about the book, and sometimes enough for that book to move up positions on my "to read" shelf. This is what happened with Americanah- the first page sucked me in so intensely that I had to drop everything and read it. And it was AMAZING.
My favorite first paragraph that I have ever read (ever) comes from Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie. So many people know the story of Peter Pan from the Disney movie, but the book is astounding in its own right. Barrie's descriptions and turns of phrase are so unique that I couldn't stop marveling over their construction. The story is interesting for children and adults alike, and I was happily surprised over how good it is.
I knew I was going to love it the minute I read this first paragraph:
"All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I supposed she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, 'Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!' This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end."To start a book like this is, to me, astounding. I stopped right after I got to the end of the paragraph and immediately read it two or three more times because it is truly breathtaking.
This paragraph put into words a sentiment I think about a lot- that we are always growing up. When I first become a mother, I would mourn how fast James was changing and would wish that he stay a teensy baby forever. I wanted, in an abstract way, for him reach a time when he wouldn't change so much. Then I realized that we are always changing, all of us, all the time. There will never be a moment when we are not growing up.
That Barrie captured this same feelings, that we only exist in these moments, floored me. That he also explained the feelings that go along with this realization- the beginning of the end- made me admire him immensely. This book has wisdom and insight wrapped inside a children's story. It is definitely not one to be missed.
Do you have any favorite first lines or paragraphs? I'm always on the lookout for amazing ones.