01 April 2010

The First Line/Last Line Challenge

Take a book from your bookshelf, whether a favorite or a random, blind grab --we just want to know what's on your shelves! For this challenge you can select a book you have not read.

Write down the first line from the body of the book (skip the introduction.)
Then flip to the end and write down the last line.
Now read both lines together.
And make a quick judgement. Will it be a good book or was it a good book?

Share (post in the comments below.)

Please use the following format for your comment:
Title of Book, Author, First Line, Last Line, your quick judgement (the good, the bad, the ugly) and brief comments on the book.


  1. the good good pig: the extraordinary life of christopher hogwood
    by Sy Montgomery
    Christopher Hogwood came home on my lap in a shoe box. I'm keeping my eyes open.

    This books was brilliant. To overlap life on a farm-ish existence with the influence of the great big world, well, we laughed, we cried --the Mom wondered for a moment if a pig would work in our life (she dismissed it soon after.)

  2. I and Thou, Martin Buber
    The world is twofold for man, in accordance with his two-fold attitude.
    But the God-side of the event whose world-side is called return is called redemption.

    We are who we are in relationship; it is how we become who we are. And so the other helps to creates us, calling us to a self the other does not know, just as we do not know the other, and yet help create the other. In a world reeling from the results of ego and individualism, Buber refreshes, reminds, encourages.

  3. Anonymous2:31 PM

    The Porcupine Year, Louise Erdrich
    Bekaa! (Wait!)
    Omakayas had promised to make something for him, and now she smiled thoughtfully as she sorted the quills, remembering all that had happened in that year of danger and love, sacrifice and surprise --that porcupine year.

    This book is great because it's all about a family that wants to take care of themselves, that's all!! Its over the top good.

  4. The Beejum Book
    by Alice O. Howell

    Once upon a time --many yesterdays before yesterday-- there was a young girl called Teak. Teak ran up the gangplank to the rest of her life.

    "I need to read that book... again!" Exclaimed after reading the first line/last line. My Mom read me this book when I was three and then we read it aloud again last year. I can't wait to read it to myself!

  5. The Gordon MacQuarrie Sporting Treasury
    By Gordon MacQuarrie

    Trout town comes alive at sunset. "In that case, I ain't going."

    In a book full of short stories, this first/last line proves the amazing storytelling ability of Gordon MacQuarrie. Unlike other books that I've read, this book, exactly, takes me to places in my mind, to places I've been and to places I want to be. If you've even hunted, fished or thought about either, you have to read these stories!

  6. the five people you meet in heaven
    by Mitch Albom

    This is a story about a man named Eddie and it begins at the end, with Eddie dying in the sun.

    And in that line now was a whiskered old man, with a linen cap and a crooked nose, who waited in a place called the Stardust Band Shell to share his part of the secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.

    Marvelous read! Albom has insight into the mysteriousness of life’s connectedness. This little book contains stories that haunt and heal. It instills in me, a strong sense of the sacredness and delicacy of life.

  7. Uncle Dick5:45 AM

    I seem to have lost my first effort so I'll try again. My book is The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy. It allows me to follow five generations of a family, longer than my own lifetime. To see what comes before us and what comes after us is to snatch a bit of immortality. Plus it's a great story.

  8. The Gospel According to John
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God. There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written.

  9. Within The Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision by David duChemin

    Vision is the beginning and the end of photography. May your journeys-around your city or around the world-be filled with encounters and moments that open your eyes, your heart, and your mind.

    I've only read the beginning of this book, but I'm already sure this will re-kindle my passion for photography. Unlike many photography books that focus on technical aspects, this book talks about the art, the vision, of photography, which I think is great.

  10. Anonymous8:55 PM

    A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut

    "Oh, a lion hunter in the jungle dark and a sleeping [man] up in Central Park, and a Chinese dentist and a British Queen all fit together in the same machine."

    "She said she 'could rollerskate through the Louvre, saying 'Yes, no, no ,yes, no, yes' and so on."

    I thought I posted this the other day, here I go again...Uncle Jeff read this book and now I think I will. I just grabbed it off the shelf. Looks like a great, wacky read.

  11. jolynbarrett3:51 PM

    My Dog May Be a Genius by Jack Prelutsky

    "My dog may be a genius,
    and, in fact there's little doubt."

    "I hope and hope with all my heart
    my bubble doesn't pop."

    When I saw that the dog was part of your crew, I immediately thought of this delightful collection of silly poems, and I got it down from my bookshelf to read through again. These poems not only make me laugh aloud, they make me think. ( And the first and last lines have nothing to do with each other because they're from 2 different poems.)


  12. Peter Berlinghof12:09 PM

    "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
    First line:
    In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
    Last line:
    So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

    I've read this book many times and at different stages in my life. And any time I think about it, I want to read it again. I identify with the narrator, Nick, an ambitious young man of good Mid-Western stock who moves East to find his fortune and encounters all sorts of shocking, opulent and carless characters.

    The first time you read this book, the narrator's voice might just blend into the background in the light of the events of the story. But as you listen more closely, he takes on his own life, revealing very little about himself voluntarily, but more-so in his reactions and impressions of others.

    Born in Michigan, and currently living in NYC, I often feel like an observer too, in this large, diverse and sometimes careless metropolis.

  13. Peter Berlinghof12:12 PM

    Ha- I just caught a typo: instead of "careless" I said "carless" But both are true of many New Yorkers!

  14. the Anybodies by N.E. Bode
    1st line: Fern Drudger knew her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Drudger, were dull.
    last line: And, miraculously, a flood of the scent of lilacs.
    Reading the first line i would like to know what the rest of Fern's family is like, what the athurs purpous of writing the book was, and what the exciting part of the book would be ( her parents are dull, so theres got to be an exciting part to the book!)

    The last line gives me the thought of a reveloution, solloution, imagination, and love.......WOW thats a lot for one sentence! Im deffinately going to read this book!

  15. Dreamers of the Day
    by Mary Doria Russell

    1st Line:
    I suppose I ought to warn you at the outset that my present circumstances are puzzling, even to me.

    Last Line:
    Try not to remember my name.

    I haven't read this book yet. It was an impulse buy the last time I visited Horizon Books. I have to admit that I was captivated by the cover artwork. Has that ever happened to you?

  16. Anonymous8:30 AM

    the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by mark haddon

    It was 7 minutes after midnight. And I know I can do this because I went to London on my own, and because I solved the mystery of Who Killed Wellington? and I found my mother and I was brave and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything.

    I wanted to read this book right after it came out but for some reason I never did. I found a copy at a library sale and it has been sitting on the shelf over my computer since last August. Now I have to read it. It was the last line that sold me and I wouldn't have even thought to look at it if not for this challenge.

  17. The Red Pyramid
    Rick Riordan

    We only have a few hours, so listen carefully. We'll be waiting.

    The Friend liked this book --and I like what The Friend reads! So I immediately reserved this new book by the author of Percy Jackson Series. When I picked the book up from the library the first thing I did was first line/last line. I like that such simple sentences can say so much... I will let you know what I think!

  18. "There was a Master come unto the earth, born in the holy land of Indiana, raised in the mystical hills east of Fort Wayne." / "There was a Master come unto the earth, born in the holy land of Indiana,"

    These are the first and last lines of Illusions by Richard Bach. If you haven't read it before, that should be enough to make it intriguing. If you have read it, are you somehow haunted, as I am, by the ghost of St. Exupery?

  19. Currently I am reading my way through fiction linked to Detroit. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides was suggested by my brother --I usually like what he reads so I held it at the library. Yesterday I picked it up and put it to First line/Last line (see I have a long list of books I am reading right now and needed to know where to put it in my queue...)

    First Line: I was born twice, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August 1974.

    Last Line: I lost track after a while, happy to be home, weeping for my father, and thinking about what was next.

    Thanks to that First Line Last Line, this Pulitzer Prize Winner got bumped to second place in The Mom's queue.

  20. I loved Middlesex except for the end. It seems he was in a hurry to tie up the loose ends and it got a little weird.

  21. Anonymous1:25 PM

    "It was November." ( 1st sentence)
    "He opened a cool green eye, regarded me for a moment, then closed it again." (last line)

    The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield

    I haven't read this book yet, but based on the first and last lines, I would not be impressed; however, I am into the book 113 pages and am fully captured!

  22. The Tiger Rising
    Kate DiCamillo

    First Line: That morning after he discovered the tiger, Rob went and stood under the Kentucky Star Motel sign and waited for the school bus just like it was any other day.

    Last Line: He lay in bed and considered the future, and outside his window, the tiny neon Kentucky Star rose and fell rose and fell, competing bravely with the light of the morning sun.

    I love it! A good first line last line and it was a very good book!

  23. The prize Winner of Defiance Ohio
    Terry Ryan

    First line: The ordinary sleepy town of defiance Ohio emitted an industrious hum on hot days, a subtle pulse of activity - like the buzzing of distant bees.

    Last line:From then on we knew there could never be a problem bigger than mom's ability to solve it.

    A great book told by one of the 10 Ryan children. Their dad was an alcoholic who spent most of his time and earnings on booze. Mom made ends meet by entering the "jingle" contests", common in the 1950's. She did more than feed and cloth her brood. She instilled optimism, hope, and security. The movie is good but the book is better and should be read first.

  24. Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde (the next book I plan to read - not technically off of MY bookshelf, but off of the bookshelf of the library, which after all we all share).

    Difficult to say what the first line really is as there's a quote for an opener and then there's an excerpt of a fictional law or statute or something, but here's what I would consider the first and last lines.

    It began with my father not wanting to see the Last Rabbit and ended up with my being eaten by a carnivorous plant. ... It took part of me with it.

    Judging by these lines, it sounds as if some dreadful things are going to happen in the book. It also sounds like a quirky, clever, and overall enjoyable read. And, judging by these lines (as well as the fact that it's by Jasper Fforde), I expect to fully love this book.

  25. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

    The Big Sister read it once, then we read it aloud together.

    First Line: For a long time after that summer, the four Penderwick sisters still talked of Arundel.

    Last Line: Then they were gone.

    I (the Mom) really don't know what it is about the Penderwick Family and their adventures, but they pull you in. I wonder what Jeanne Birdsall's background is --she has a way of softly pulling on your heartstrings, so softly that you don't realize it until you are laughing (or crying) out loud.

    The Sisters ADORE The Penderwick Sisters --simple as that.

    We begin Book #2 Tomorrow at breakfast...

  26. Just like the mom I have stacks of books at home and work waiting to see if they make the final cut and actually get read. This technique may very well help.

    Snakes by Kate Jennings

    'everybody likes you. A good man. Decent.'
    'your voice isn't plaintive, as might be expected,but querulous and accusing, as if you had no part in it, as if someone stole the years from under your nose.'

    Those two lines leave me ambivalent, but as the book is small it will make the cut, with the blurb still enticing me.