Saturday, July 17, 2010

Choosing What to Read from First Sentences

I made a nice haul at the library this morning and I've been flipping through the books and wondering what I was thinking when I grabbed so many at one time. I've decided to read the first sentence of each of them and choose my next book or two strictly on how those sentences strike me.

Here goes:

"After the show, they went back to the hotel room, and to bed, for the seventeenth time in three weeks." - Memory by Donald E. Westlake (his "final never-before-published novel")

"It was chillier than she expected that morning, and a stiff wind shuddered through the apple blossoms- penetrating even to the desk in the Lodge at Rodmell, where she preferred to write." - The White Garden by Stephanie Barron (a novel about Virginia Woolf)

"In December of 2008, the editors of Webster's New World Dictionary and Thesaurus chose the verb "overshare" as their word of the year." - The Peep Diaries by Hal Niedzviecki ("How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors")

"What is an Obama zombie?" - Obama Zombies by Jason Mattera ("How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation')

"He was Little John at home, Gator John on wheels, John Jude on his birth certificate, Goofy-Foot John, or simply da kine to those in da know." - American Taliban by Pearl Abraham (a novel)

"After crossing the Merrimack River, I turned onto Route 1A, continuing south through the picturesque towns of Massachusetts' North Shore." - Dogtown by Elyssa East ("Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town")

"Meet Patricia Graham - wife, grandmother, office manager, churchgoer, community volunteer. And in her spare time, rightwing domestic terrorist." - That's No Angry Mob, That's My Mom by Michael Graham ("Team Obama's Assault on Tea-Party, Talk-Radio Americans")

"Tom the Handyman is wading in the snow outside my window in boots a burglar might wear." - The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson by Jerome Charyn (novel)

"Oscar Morales was fed up. It was holiday time in his hometown of Barranquilla, Columbia, just after the 2008 new year." - The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick ("The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World")

"William Blakely? Oh my God, you mean Blockade Billy." - Blockade Billy by Stephen King (baseball-based novella that includes a 50-page short story called "Morality")

"I'm talking about torture." - Letters to My Torturer by Houshang Asadi ("Love, Revolution, and Imprisonment in Iran")

So, based on only the information I've presented, do I have any recommendations? I've already admitted to myself that it is extremely unlikely that I will read all 11 of these titles before the library demands I return them. I'm not sure what got into me this morning, but I found something interesting just about every place I looked on the shelves. At other times, I find nothing...just wish there was something in between.

(I suspect that all the guys will choose the first one on the list...)


  1. I do the same thing. I bring home way too many library books to read, but it's fun choosing one. I like the sound of Stephanie Barron's book, but that's probably because I have it on my own TBR pile!

  2. I'm going to finish up at least two of the four I'm currently reading before picking up a new one sometime mid-week...I was like a kid with a pocketful of money in a candy store today. I can't remember the last time I walked away with that many books.

    Both the Virginia Woolf and the Emily Dickinson novels are intriguing hope to read both of them.

  3. Based on the first sentence and the title I would pick "The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson". Several books appeal, so you probably won't step wrong with any choice!

  4. That Dickinson one is near the top, for sure, anonymous.

  5. I was initially interested in the one talking about "Goofy-Foot John, or simply da kine," thinking it was about a Hawaiian surfer, but then I read the title - "American Taliban" - so now I'm thinking that's not what the book's actually about.

  6. That one's fairly low on the list right now, Annie...too depressing for my mood. I gave into the Stephen King temptation, short book and light reading, but a letdown.