Sunday, October 29, 2017

What are the opening lines of the books you read?

It took me two and a half months to finish reading The Korean Mind, Understanding Contemporary Korean Culture  I can't wait to get it over with so I can get on with life. It was tough and I'm glad I finally flipped the last page. 

With that book out of the way, I wanted to get my hands on a new one. 

And looking at the 19 books I have read so far this yearwhich is the least number of books in the last 6 years since I went back to serious readingI have not read a single novel. 

I started hunting for one and happened upon this. 

The End of Your Life Book Club
by Will Schwalbe

I love books about books and as I read it, I also like its voice and feel. 

How could a book lover and avid reader ignore a book that is labeled as "a true meditation on what books can do"?

But as I got on with it, I began to realize that it is not a novel after all, but an account of the writer's last days with his dying mom. 

But I was already invested in the book and could not put it down. 

The novel will have to wait. It will have to come after this, or never, for the year at least. 

One part of the book that I really like was when the author said: 

Mom and I loved opening lines of novels. “The small boys came early to the hanging” was one of our favorites, from Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth. How could you not go on reading? And the first sentence of John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany: “I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.” And E. M. Forster’s first line in Howards End: “One may as well begin with Helen’s letters to her sister.” It’s the “may as well” that draws you in—casual, chatty even, yet it gives the reader a strong sense that there’s a lot of story to come.

Obviously I went to check out his first line after reading that paragraph, and it was this:

We were nuts about the mocha in the waiting room at Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s outpatient care center.

I don't know about you but I was hooked right there and then, and didn't even know it. 

But I have always believe in only reading books that start well for me. Only that I didn't really pay attention to the opening lines. 

Now I do. 


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