A Bookish Quiz: Opening Lines Edition

Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend, I’ve pulled together a quick quiz. The name of the game is simple: Can you guess the book from the opening line?

For some reason the quiz code doesn’t work very well in Reader, and it makes it tricky to understand – its a lot easier (and lots more fun!) if you do it on the actual Baking Thad Books Site.

Let me know how you get on in the comments!

Let’s jump right in…

1. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Well done – you’re off the mark. This classic is from Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities, set in Paris and London during the Great Terror. If I’m honest, it’s hard going after that first sentence.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Nope. It definitely ain’t a Swedish detective noir thriller.
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Nope. Not even close.

OK that was an easy one to start with, they should get harder from here on in:

2. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Congratulations – one of the best opening lines in literature from Jane Austen here, that introduces Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in this comedy of manners.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Nope. A good guess but it’s not right.
The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
Nope. This one does have a good opener though: “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” See? A belter. Still not right, though.
3.”All children, except one, grow up.”
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Well done. Peter Pan is indeed the boy that never grew up in this classic.
The Purple Revolution by Nigel Farage
Nope. He should definitely grow up though.
The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump
Nope. He should definitely grow up though.
4.”Once upon a time there lived… ‘A king!’ my little readers will say immediately. No, children, you are mistaken. Once upon a time there was a piece of wood.”
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Awesome stuff – this is possibly my favourite on the quiz.
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Mirakami
Nope. Just in here because it’s got ‘Wood’ in the title.
The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann
Nope. Just in here because it’s got ‘Wood’ in the title.

How’re you doing so far? We’re going to step it up now…

5. “Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.”
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Awesome stuff – you’ve met Ishmael, time to go whale hunting.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Nope. I was trying to throw you off the scent here, but it is still a classic and still worth reading.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Nope. I was trying to throw you off the scent here, but it is still a classic and still worth reading.
6. “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’”
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Well done on getting this one – you really know your onions.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Nope. Another modern classic, but the opening line to this one is, “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.”
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Nope. Another modern classic, but this one’s opening line is “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like… and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
7. “I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one. Or at least as close as we’re going to get.”
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Good one. Interesting fact for you, this is on the required reading list for the US Marines. Apparently “there are lessons in training methodology, leadership, and ethics”. Not bad for a Young Adult Sci-Fi novel, eh?
Dune by Frank Herbert
Nope.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Double nope.
8. “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.”
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Well done on getting this one.
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Nope. Although it is a about a particularly awful child.
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Nope – but some of the kids in this are some of the most disgusting little blisters anyone has ever imagined.
9. “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Yep – this is a cracker. If you’ve not read it yet, it’s worth a look.
The Martian by Andy Weir
Nope. The opening line for the Martian is pretty intense though: “I’m pretty much f**ked”. Want to read it now, don’t you?
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Nope.
10. “I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won’t bother to talk about, except it had something to do with the miserably weary split-up and my feeling that everything was dead.”
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Congrats. Apparently Kerouac wrote this by dropping a ton of acid and writing most of it in one sitting.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Nope. If I’m honest, I was just trying to confuse you by putting two in that had ‘Road’ in the title. This one is about the end of the world though, rather than a fun trip across America.
Junkie by William S. Burroughs
Nope. Another one where I was trying to throw you off – this time with another author from the Beat Generation, and one of the worst human beings I’ve ever read about.
11. “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
This is a brilliant opening line right? My mum got me these books as a kid – bet she didn’t think that the opening line would wind up on here as a result.
The Twits by Roald Dahl
Nope – seems like something he’d write though doesn’t it?
Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian
Nopety-nope.
12. “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.”
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Yep – well done on this. Apparently it’s sold more copies than any other book ever written. At least works of fiction anyway, with 500m sales. Second place in the list is a Tale of Two Cities.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Nope – seems like something he’d write though doesn’t it? The opening line in Love in the Time of Cholera is “It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.” Beautiful.
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
Nopety-nope. I thought that a book on a similar subject might throw you a bit.

Last five now…

13. “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Probably my favourite opening line in all of fiction. The whole book is like this – muscle, bone, and sinew. Not an ounce of flesh in it. Just brilliant.
A River Runs Through it by Norman Maclean
Still a classic, but not quite right
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday
Nah… not even close!
14. “The year that Buttercup was born, the most beautiful woman in the world was a French scullery maid named Annette.”
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Of course it is. It’s not the most famous quote from the book though is it? That belongs to, “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!”. Marvellous.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Maybe you didn’t get this one because it’s not the most famous quote from the book. That belongs to, “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!”. Marvellous.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Maybe you didn’t get this one because it’s not the most famous quote from the book. That belongs to, “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!”. Marvellous.
15. “My father got the dog drunk on cherry brandy at the party last night. If the RSPCA hear about it he could get done.”
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend
Brilliant stuff from Sue Townsend. This whole book is hillarious. Well done on getting this opening line.
George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl
Not this one I’m afraid. Better luck next time.
Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
Not this one I’m afraid. Better luck next time.
16. “Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo”
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
Weird right? Didn’t see that one coming. Still, it’s probably the most readable James Joyce book there is.
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
Nah, was just searching for stuff with cows on the cover here to fool you. Did it work?
The Cow who fell in the Canal by Phyllis Krasilovsky
Nah, was just searching for stuff with cows on the cover here to fool you. Did it work?
17. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One of the best books there is. Starts off with this quote and gets better and better. Well worth a read – if you fancy it let me know and I’ll dig my copy out.
A Heart so White by Javier Marias
Nope.
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Nah, this ain’t it. But this title fits that quote, for sure.

Final bonus question for you now. Good luck:

18. “If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me”
Herzog by Saul Bellow
Well done! Toughest of the lot and you got it – treat yourself to a book from the list.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Nope – seems like it would be though, right?
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Nope. This seems like it could fit though, right? The actual opening line is fantastic: “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York”. Marvellous.

So how did you get on? Let me know in the comments!

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32 thoughts on “A Bookish Quiz: Opening Lines Edition

  1. Hey, once I could see it was multiple choice I did way better. (Of course:-) FYI: It was probably me, but the first time I attempted your fun quiz the questions were not in separate boxes which made it difficult to understand. I will reblog for you. Thanks for creating this quiz.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. In WordPress…Thinking on this, I bet I attempted it in the email (dah) which was all tangled together with your fun comments under each choice making the questions look like paragraphs. I also FB posted.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Melissa! Well done – I tried to keep it a bit varied so there was something in it for everyone (of course that means there’ll be one or two you that are outside of your usual frame of reference). I think the Pinocchio one is my favourite.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 18! Two were by process of elimination (I hadn’t read the right answer, but I’d read the other two and was pretty sure it wasn’t them). A lifetime spent with my nose buried in a book finally pays off.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 5 wrong, but this was a lot of fun! I was doing well until the end, except *gasp* I missed The Great Gatsby! The others I missed I hadn’t read before. The last line of Gatsby is so iconic I thought there was no way I wouldn’t recognize the first line, but alas… Some great commentary with the answers, too, by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

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