They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but one in five of us will give up on a book if the first line doesn’t hook us in. To celebrate World Book Day on Thursday 5th March, Asda has compiled a list of our favourite openers. Perhaps not surprisingly, first lines from books that helped shape our childhoods including Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh feature in the top ten.
But it’s not just childhood fairytales that adults have fond memories of, as the opening lines from classic 19th Century novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece 1984 also feature. However, the first words of pop-culture juggernaut 50 Shades of Grey did little to inspire those surveyed, as just 5% of Brits were wooed by EL James’ opening line.
Laura Grooby Asda’s book buyer comments: “First impressions are everything, and even though hundreds of new books are released every week, it's clear the nation never forgets a famous opening line. This year, we hope by encouraging everyone to pick up and persevere with a book on World Book Day, children and adults alike will enjoy the pleasures reading can bring.”
To inspire teachers, parents and children this World Book Day, George at Asda is bringing literature to life with a new range of children's and adults’ matching fancy-dress costumes ranging from fairy princesses to Horrible Histories. See what's on offer here.
To support World Book Day, the £1 tokens can be redeemed against any children's book in-store. For those without book tokens, Asda will be offering children’s titles for just £1, including Dennis the Menace: World Menace Day, Elmer’s Parade and Pirates' Holiday Guide.
The nation’s most memorable opening lines
- 'All children, except one, grow up.' - Peter Pan
- 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.' - A Tale of Two Cities
- 'It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.' - 1984
- 'When Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.' - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
- 'Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice 'without pictures or conversation?' - Alice in Wonderland
- 'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife.' - Pride and Prejudice
- ''Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.' - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
- 'Here is Edward Bear, coming down the stairs now, bump bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.' - Winnie-The-Pooh
- 'My father got the dog drunk on cherry brandy at the party last night.' - The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13¾
- 'The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play, so we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day.' - The Cat in the Hat
* Remember the best-loved films of our childhoods here