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27. Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing. —Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605; trans. Edith Grossman)

Part of my 100 Best First Lines from Novels project.

First lines are powerful. It’s the author’s best chance to hook the reader. A great first line will pull you in, introduce you to the narrator, and set the tone for the entire book. Depending on what you’re reading, a great first line can be funny or meaningful or sad or somehow all of the above. Some great lines are flowery and beautiful, while others are direct and to the point.

But a great line should always pull you out of your world and straight into the world of the book. Here is my tribute to the 100 best opening lines in Western Literature that immediately draw you in.

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These are the first 33:

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