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[ Editor's note: While your Flavorwire editors take a much-needed holiday break, we're revisiting some of our most popular features of the year. This post was originally published June 19, 2011. ] Sigh. Authors just don’t insult each other like they used to.
Following is a list of the 100 best first lines from novels, as decided by the American Book Review, a nonprofit journal published at the Unit for Contemporary Literature at Illinois State University: 1. Call me Ishmael. - Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851) 2.
The World Library is a list of the 100 best books, as proposed by one hundred writers from fifty-four different countries, compiled and organized in 2002 by the Norwegian Book Club . This list endeavours to reflect world literature, with books from all countries, cultures, and time periods. Eleven of the books included on the list are written by women, eighty-five are written by men and four have an unknown author. Each writer had to select his or her own list of ten books. The books selected by this process and listed here are not ranked or categorized in any way; the organizers have stated that "they are all on an equal footing," with the exception of Don Quixote which was given the distinction "best literary work ever written."
The ten novels on this list all substantiate the belief that books are the most elastic, introspective, human and entertaining form of media that exist. Not movies, not music, not art, not the theatre. A famous author once said that novels are the best way for two human beings to connect with each other. I believe this, and I believe that people who do not find pleasure in words have never had the opportunity to read one of the great novels. The first introductions students often have to literature are stale century-old books that do not translate well to this new modern era.