First Sentences

 “When I was six, my father gave me a bright-red scorebook that opened my heart to the game of baseball.” Doris Kearns Goodwin, Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir.

“Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less?” Julian Barnes, The Only Story.

“On September 25, 1988, the writing finally stopped.” Matthew M. Briones, Jim and Jap Crow: A Cultural History of 1940s Interracial America.

 “Stan Carlisle stood well back from the entrance of the canvas enclosure, under the blaze of a naked light bulb, and watched the geek.” William Lindsay Gresham, Nightmare Alley.

 “The first Harlemites didn’t quite know what to make of the strange object that sailed up the river in the late summer of 1609.” Jonathan Gill, Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black America.

“In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals.” Michael Ondaatje, Warlight.

“Two of the most monstrous regimes in human history came to power in the twentieth century, and both were predicated upon the violation and despoiling of truth, upon the knowledge that cynicism and weariness and fear can make people susceptible to lies and false promises of leaders bent on unconditional power.” Michiko Kakutani, The Death of Truth.

“There was an Indian head, the head of an Indian, the drawing of a headdressed, long-haired Indian depicted, drawn by an unknown artist in 1939, broadcast until the late 1970s to American TVs everywhere after all the shows ran out.” Tommy Orange, There There.

“Even in Los Angeles, where there is no shortage of remarkable hairdos, Harry Peak attracted attention.” Susan Orlean, The Library Book.

“Marsh is not swamp.” Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing.

“I’m standing on the red railway car that sits abandoned next to the barn.” Tara Westover, Educated.

“A christening shawl decorated with periwinkle and yellowed asparagus fern hung in the window of our stone house for two years.” Wioletta Greg (translated from the Polish by Eliza Marciniak), Swallowing Mercury.

“The first time I looked into the face of opioid addiction, it was of a heavily made-up woman in her late fifties at a food bank in eastern Kentucky.” Chris McGreal, American Overdose: The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts.