Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish
This week's theme? Top Ten Favorite Beginnings/Endings In Books
This week's theme is hosted by Aeryn!
Amazon + Good Reads
“All children, except one, grow up.”
I love how matter-of-fact JM Barrie’s opening line is. It introduces the story as a “coming of age” tale, while incorporating a hint of fantasy. It causes the reader to ask all the important questions: who, what, where, why, and how? And the need to have those answers, of course, is what urges a reader to continue.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Amazon + Good Reads
“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle.”
I’ll admit that I was a little too old when this series first started to gain popularity for me to really get into it. I distinctly remember, however, my sister (who is four years younger than me) absolutely LOVING it. Obsessively. So, being the good sister that I am, I gave it go. Putting aside whether or not I continued with the series after the first book, I will admit that the opening line has always stuck with me.
Amazon + Good Reads
“It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.”
It’s a funny thing how Ronald Dahl, a children’s author, can write an opening line meaningful for all ages. I’d totally forgotten how Matilda opened until I stumbled across it during my research for this TTT. I think it’s more meaningful now that I am an adult than it ever was. I’m not a mother myself and can only compare my experiences with that of raising two cats, but I think this might be the most observant paragraph I've read in a while.
Amazon + Good Reads
“TEACHER seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person.”
Okay, so this isn’t the first line of the book. It’s the 3 paragraph. Close enough. That being said, Ishmael changed my life. It has become my philosophy…though, if you've read the book, you’ll understand how ironic that is. If you haven’t: DO IT NOW! But only if you are a pupil with an earnest desire to save the world.
“In The Beginning God Created The Heavens And The Earth”
I’m probably going to get myself in a lot of trouble for this one. So, disclaimer: I’m thinking about this entirely as a piece of literature, religion aside, because I think this is a really good opening line. It sets the scene and tone beautifully. Whatever happens after that, well, that’s personal.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
“What’s that?” he snarled, staring at the envelope Harry was still clutching in his hand. “If it’s another form for me to sign you've got another—”
“It’s not,” said Harry cheerfully. “It’s a letter from my godfather.”
“Godfather?” sputtered Uncle Vernon. “You haven’t got a godfather!”
“Yes, I have,” said Harry brightly. “He was my mum and dad’s best friend. He’s a convicted murderer, but he’s broken out of wizard prison and he’s on the run. He likes to keep in touch with me, though…keep up with my news…check if I’m happy.” And, grinning broadly at the look of horror on Uncle Vernon’s face, Harry set off toward the station exit, Hedwig rattling along in front of him, for what looked like a much better summer than the last."
Everyone has a favorite Harry Potter book. Well, everyone who is a fan, that is. Mine is Prisoner of Azkaban. Why? Because it’s really the only one that doesn't deal directly with Voldemort, Sirius is the biggest bad ass ever, and it has THE BEST ending. I mean, seriously? How can you not love that sass? It was so great to see Harry stand up for himself, and I think it really highlighted how learning about his parents’ past helped him grow up a little bit.
A Clockwork Orange
“Oh, it was gorgeosity and yumyumyum. When it came to the Scherzo I could viddy myself very clear running and running on like very light and mysterious nogas, carving the whole litso of the creeching world with my cut-throat britva. And there was the slow movement and the lovely last singing movement still to come. I was cured all right.”
The ending of A Clockwork Orange is one hotly debated. Anthony Burgess originally penned seven “parts,” but his American publisher insisted that the final chapter be dropped, claiming the American people would like the ending (as written above) better. In the infamous seventh chapter, it is learned that Alex has more or less grown out of his violent habits, ultimately making the statement (in my humble opinion) that people do stupid, idiotic things when they are young. “And all it was was that I was young. But now as I end this
story, brothers, I am not young, not no longer, oh no.”
Having seen the movie sometime before reading the book, I was surprised to discover that there was an “alt ending.” And, I’ll be totally honest, I’m not sure which I like better. Is it the “American” in me that enjoys the violence and vacancy of hope in the final lines of the sixth chapter? Maybe. But, at the same time, I cling to the idea that what we do, who we are, when we are young is only a shadow of who we grow to be. Ultimately, I think this debate was able to turn more eyes inward than either publisher or author could have ever imagined.
“And I felt ready to live it all again too. As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself—so like a brother, really—I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.”
Oh, existentialism, how good you do me. I really have no explanation for this one, just that I love it. The indifference, yielding to one’s fate, despite its purposelessness—it all makes me shiver.
Life of Pi
“I know what you want. You want a story that won’t surprise you. That will confirm what you already know. That won’t make you see higher or further or differently. You want a flat story. An immobile story. You want dry, yeastless factuality.”
It in my sincerest hopes that if you made to end of Life of Pi that you were as moved by it as I. Sure, it’s a somewhat arduous book, filled with nothing but empty oceans for pages upon pages, but to me, the ending is so rewarding. I won’t say that this book changed my outlook on religion—that’s far too complicated of a subject—but I will confidently admit that it changed the way I think about belief, be it in God, the supernatural, forces unseen, or the inexplicable.
As in every book he writes, Martel somehow has the ability to pull the wool over my eyes, to make me believe that the story he has woven is true. Suspension of disbelief doesn't even begin to cover it. I really, truly forget I am reading a fictitious tale when I delve into a Martel novel.
This is no less true in Life of Pi. It wasn't until the very end, when the Japanese lawyers question Pi and the plausibility of his claim, that I remembered that Pi Patel and Richard Parker were nothing but prettily arranged letters on a piece of paper. And that’s when I learned something about myself: I always want to believe the better story.
Clockwork Princess/The Infernal Devices
THE WHOLE LAST HALF OF THE BOOK I CAN’T EVEN AAAAAH SPOILERS
I feel like a bit of a cop-out listing this one, only because I’m sure it’s going to be a very prevalent choice this week (though that statement just makes me sound like a too-coolfor-school prude). But after much deliberation, I’ve decided that it absolutely must be on here. I can’t think of a better ending to a series. I cried my damn eyes out, not because it was horrifically sad or moving, but because it felt 100% real. It was so honest and right by the characters. Props to you, Clare.