#BookChat [1] | That First Sentence in a Book

#BookChat is a feature on my blog where I make discussion posts on anything book-related. So, let’s chat!

Let’s say you walk into a bookstore and simply search the shelves with no particular book in mind. You let your eyes wander when suddenly a book catches your eye. You have never heard of the title or author before, but feeling adventurous you flip to that first page and read. How much does that first sentence affect your need to read that book?

This discussion idea occurred to me after making my Teaser Tuesday post where I shared the first two sentences in the prologue of The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna. Normally, I never give a second thought about the first sentence in the book, but then I realized how much I really loved those first two sentences in The Theory of Everything. Despite the shortness of length, those two sentences are enough to make me think, “I am going to love this book!” Obviously as I read the rest of the book my opinion may change, but by those few sentences alone I am further hyped to read this book!

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This is not limited to just the first sentence of a book, but could also expand to the first few pages you read. I have had instances where I pick up an unknown book at a bookstore, open to a random page in a book, read a couple of pages and immediately take with me to the cash register.

A specific example was when I was perusing the Young Adult section of Barnes & Noble. At this time, I was fairly new to the YA genre and didn’t have any idea of what kind of book I would enjoy reading. I searched around, picking up books and reading the little blurbs. Eventually, I spotted Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare. I’ve seen this series around the internet for some time, but didn’t really know anything about it. The cover was enticing, the synopsis inside the flap seemed interesting enough and my curiosity bested me; so I flipped to a random page. Lo and behold, I had flipped to the page where Tessa and Jem had an intimate bed scene (you know what I’m talking about ;D). I read a few pages further and was hooked. I had to have this book. I didn’t care that I haven’t read the first book, or was even entirely sure I would like the rest of the book. I like what I read, I needed know to more and it needed to be mine.

For that specific situation, I didn’t regret my choice at all. I’m not really sure what this post says about me, other than I can be such a compulsive book buyer. :p

What about you? Do the first few sentences or pages influence your need to read a book? Without knowing anything about the author or book (series), what convinces you to read that book?

Want to read more book-related discussions? Check out Let’s Discuss!

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21 thoughts on “#BookChat [1] | That First Sentence in a Book

  1. The first sentence is pretty important to me. I mean, it’s the premise of the whole book! (Kinda). I also think the first few paragraphs and first page are also pretty important, too. I mean, I want to be hooked on a book as soon as I flip it open. I want it to force me to buy it, and read it. Right then and there.
    But then again, I’m not really going to stop reading a book because I didn’t like the ‘first fews’. But I will DNF a book if I can’t get into it a few chapters in. I’m not going to waste my time on a book I don’t like D:
    When buying a book I haven’t heard of before, or from an author I’ve never read, I am pretty shallow. Requirements are: pretty and/or intriguing cover, and a blurb which makes me interested in the story. 😀

    • I agree with wanting a book to hook me the moment I crack it open and read that first sentence/paragraph, but perfect books like that are a rare find for me. Also that part about DNF A book is so true! Life is too short to waste on a book you don’t like. I have pretty much the same requirements for a book/author I never heard of. It’s what I mainly judge on, especially when I haven’t done my research.

  2. One of my favorite opening sentences to a book is from Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I began to read it after reading a really serious book, so it made me laugh out loud: “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

  3. It’s true that the first sentences in a book really do help me decide if I want to read it or not. Many of the books in my TBR pile have great first sentences, but there are a couple that really fail 😛 One of them (that has been in my TBR pile forever) starts off describing the weather >_<

    • I think it really all depends on how a first sentence is written. If written well, even the most mundane scenarios (like weather!) could actually be interesting to read about. But yeah, first sentences can either be a hit or miss.

      • That’s true. But I haven’t actually read a weather describing sentence that’s particularly interesting… Btw, was the intimate bed scene great? I need to know!

      • Yay! I read the first book in the series, and even though Jem has less page time than Will, I still prefer him. He’s so much of a sweetheart ❤

      • You haven’t read the rest of the series yet?!

        I will say that Jem does have more page time in the second book than in the first (the more pages with Jem, the better imo <3). He is such a sweetheart, which makes his illness all the more tragic 😦

      • Nope! I just got into the series, lol. I’m kind of late 😛

        Oh, he does? That’s awesome! I can’t wait to read the second book now 🙂 Yeah, his illness is really sad… Sweethearts like Jem deserve to be healthy!

  4. The first sentence in a book definitely influences my opinion! I mean, say the first sentence was ridiculously cliched or something, then that doesn’t really bode well for the rest of the book. And of course if you have an amazing first couple of sentences- like the ones in The Sea of Tranquility, you’re hooked! And I do that thing in the bookstore as well when you turn to a random page and read it haha. So awkward when you accidentally read a spoilery bit.
    Nice post Jessylyn 🙂
    ps is your blog name a reference to the japanese manga/drama?

    • I agree, a cliched first sentence can really ruin your impression of a book. Seriously, it’s so awkward when you flip pages and get spoilers, but sometimes I still continue reading if I’m interested enough, lol.

      Also yes, my blog name is a reference to Hana Yori Dango 🙂

  5. I don’t judge a book by it’s first sentence. I don’t read anything but the blurb and maybe a couple of reviews before deciding whether or not to purchase it. I’m definitely attracted to books by the cover, then I read the blurb – if that gets me I’ll buy it, if not I’ll happily pass it up!
    Even when I start reading a book I don’t make assumptions or pass judgement based upon that first sentence, or paragraph, or pages. It’s actually rare that I DNF a book, and if I do I have normally gotten a good way through before making the decision that I just can’t finish it.

    • It’s impressive how you put so much time, thought and consideration into the books you’re reading! In my case, I tend to make snap decisions when it comes to books. It’s not the best method, but I can’t help it sometimes.

      • I think everyone is guilty of making snap decisions when it comes to books. I know I do. Sometimes they turn out to be great books other times not and then I feel bad for buying it without much thought.

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  8. First sentences definitely have to be good to pull the reader in and make them want to read the rest of the book. Hopefully, the rest of the book is good. I can’t really name any books right now, but I’ve encountered some books which start really strongly but just go downhill from there.

    • Thanks for stopping by! I agree books with good first sentences can pull a reader in. I get pretty disappointed when I read books that start off fantastic, but then steadily declines. These books I often DNF.

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