We're back from our whirlwind trip out east just in time for Top Ten Tuesday. Today's topic, hosted as always by The Broke and the Bookish, is top ten beginnings or endings. For some reason I've had trouble thinking this topic through, but I tried to pick the books whose beginnings excited my imagination or drew me into the story.
1. The Bible: Is this a cop-out? Maybe. But is there any better start to a book than "In the beginning..." It draws you right in: This is your story and my story, where we came from. It opens on your imagination just as much as "Once upon a time" does.
2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." It really sets the stage for the story to come, and makes you nod your head in agreement as well.
3. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera: The first few pages of this book led me to go into East European studies. The imagery of how a man can disappear from history, leaving only his hat behind, stirred something in me and it stays with me, 15 years or so since I first read this book.
4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling: "Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much" In addition to the initial description of the Dursleys being hilarious, the first chapter introduces you to Harry's back story, to Dumbledore, Hagrid, and McGonagall, to elements of magic (like the "put-outer", flying motorbike, and McGonagall's status as an animagus), etc. Reading it again after finishing all the books makes you realize how much Rowling actually set the stage for the whole series right from the start.
5. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton: Maybe this is cheating a little since I just finished it, but I enjoyed how the opening scene introduced Lily from Selden's point of view, and you're not sure at first whether he like hers or whether she's someone he wants to avoid. It really set the stage for the whole book.
6. Wild by Cheryl Strayed: I had mixed feelings about this book, but I can't help admitting that starting in the middle with her lost boot certainly drew me in. I spent half the book wondering how in the world she would make it through her adventure barefoot.
7. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: "It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York." I read this book in high school, in the days before Google, and I was going crazy trying to find out who the Rosenbergs were.
8. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: I love that the book starts with Rachel Lynde instead of the Cuthberts, yet gives us a description of the area and the line, "... for not even a brook could run past Mrs Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum ..." Such busybody, that Rachel. Wait, is she related to the Dursleys? :-)
9. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: "I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless
Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an
emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974." After you've read it, this sentence makes sense, but at first you're just like, "Wait, what??"
10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." Obviously, I can't leave this one off as it's my favourite book.
Honourable mention goes to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Before the book came out, I would sometimes ask myself strange questions about the HP universe, and one of them was at what point of government in the UK are muggles aware of the wizard realm. When I read the opening of Half-Blood Prince, I was so glad JKR cleared that up. Yes, I'm a little weird...