First Sentences

“I sometimes think of the Supreme Court oral arguments in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt on March 2, 2016, as the last truly great day for women and the legal system in America.” Dahlia Lithwick, Lady Justice: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America.

“I hear the crack of his skull before the spattering of blood reaches me.” Colleen Hoover, Verity.

“No one knows where America’s Northern Border begins.” Porter Fox, Northland: A 4,000 Mile Journey Along America’s Forgotten Border.

“The coastal steamer attends faithfully to its course, slipping down the middle of the fjord between the mountains, taking its bearings from the stars and peaks and arriving on schedule at Óseyri in Axlarfjörður, its horn blasting through the blowing snow. In the first-class smokers’ lounge, two smartly dressed travelers from Reykjavík are discussing the village’s faint gleams of light.” Halldór Laxness, Salka Valka.


“In this soundless film, it is winter in Arkansas.” Sridhar Pappu, The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, and the End of Baseball’s Golden Age.

“Mrs Palfrey first came to the Claremont Hotel on a Sunday afternoon in January.” Elizabeth Taylor, Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont.

“In the weeks following the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, a group of Chinese executives traveled to Los Angeles for a crash course in influence.” Erich Schwartzell, Red Carpet: Hollywood, China, and the Global Battle for Cultural Supremacy.

“When Cal comes out of the house, the rooks have got hold of something.” Tana French, The Searcher.

“As a little boy, lying in his bed, my father would hear the planes overhead.” Malcolm Gladwell, The Bomber Mafia.

“It was an unmarked car, just some nondescript American sedan a few years old, but the blackwall tires and the three men inside gave it away for what it was.” Stephen King, The Outsider.

“The results of Wisconsin’s 2018 election had to be seen to be believed.” Nick Seabrook, One Person, One Vote: A Surprising History of Gerrymandering in America.

“Brown Dog drifted away thinking of the village in the forest where the red-haired girl lived.” Jim Harrison, Brown Dog Redux.

“The sun that rose for the rest of the world that morning was not the one that rose for Lanah Sawyer.” John Wood Sweet, The Sewing Girl’s Tale: A Story of Crime and Consequences in Revolutionary America.