Favourite Beginnings and Endings

Some beginnings of books just suck you in to the story immediately, and some endings leave you feeling satisfied. I tried to compile a list of some of my favourite book beginnings and endings. It was a lot more difficult than I thought! I leafed through a lot of my books to come up with them – I guess these aren’t the sort of things that I remember!

Top 10 Beginnings

Maija’s Top 10 Beginnings and Endings in a Book

Let’s start with some of my favourite beginning sentences. These first three set the scene wonderfully, and make me want to keep reading to learn more. What door? What vampire? Magicians?

1. Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house.

2. Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice

”I see…” said the vampire thoughtfully, and slowly he walked across the room towards the window.

3. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians.

4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling
In this one, the writing style and sort of conversational narrator just sucks me right in. I love the language of the first Harry Potter book, I think it’s a pitch perfect children’s book. The other books are good too (third one is my favourite), but the writing in the first one has a charm that’s completely it’s own.

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

And then beginning paragraphs that I love, because they set the mood of the story so well.

5. Naive. Super, by Erlend Loe

I have two friends. A good one and a bad one. And then there’s my brother. He might not be quite as friendly as I am, but he’s OK.

6. Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones

In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes.

7. Room with a View, by E. M. Forster

”The Signora had no business to do it,” said Miss Bartlett, ”no business at all. She promised us south rooms with a view, close together, instead of which here are north rooms, looking into a courtyard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy!”

Now it’s time for endings. I will not spoil you, don’t worry. I’ll be enigmatic, and also, use white text.

8. The Sandman (The Wake), by Neil Gaiman
Now it’s debatable whether this can be considered the ending or not, since I’m leaving out the epilogue and the two short stories that came after, but to me this is the ending.

…And then, fighting to stay asleep, wishing it would go on for ever, sure that once the dream was over, it would never come back, …you woke up.

9. A Storm of Swords, by George R.R. Martin
This book has it all – the perfect cold open in the prologue (for you show watchers, it’s pretty much the final scene of season two), and then the chilling and creepy, yet totally awesome epilogue. I’m talking about the final page here. I did not see that coming. I was both horrified or excited.

10. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin
My favorite ending paragraph is this, white outed because of spoilers. Just highlight it with your mouse to read!
As Daenerys Targaryen rose to her feet, her black hissed, pale smoke venting from its mouth and nostrils. The other two pulled away from her breasts and added their voices to the call, translucent wings unfolding and stirring the air, and for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons.

What are your favourites? Do you agree with some of mine? Leave a comment or a link to your list!


This post is linked at “Top Ten Tuesday”, a weekly book list meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.


7 thoughts on “Favourite Beginnings and Endings

  1. Fantastic! I’m in complete agreement on #1 – 4 (and I had Interview with the Vampire on my stack of books I was considering this week, but couldn’t decide which piece to include!). And of course, the GRRM books as well — amazing! Nicely done!!

  2. I should have added A Dance With Dragons to my list of cruel cliffhanger endings! It’s all the more cruel because there are no answers looming on the horizon. C’mon George, get writing!

    • I still have about 300 pages left from A Dance With Dragons, but I’ve been spoiled SO MUCH in the interwebs that it’s ridiculous. Soon I’ll see if I guessed the cliffhanger right…

  3. I ALMOST put Howl’s Moving Castle on my list. I love the quote for Naive. Super – I’ve never heard of it before but I’ll definitely be checking it out now!

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