Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top Ten Favorite Beginnings/Endings in Books

I am joining in on this weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week there is a different top ten list topic and a bunch of bloggers weighing in.  Head on over there to see more of the great blogs participating.

It was so much fun to think back over my favorite reads to see which ones I loved for their great beginnings and amazing endings.  While some of these books came right to mind, I had to search and revisit some of my favorite books to fill out the rest of the list.

Great Beginnings

 1. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Rain fell that night, a fine, whispering rain. Many years later, Meggie had only to close her eyes and she could still hear it, like tiny fingers tapping on the windowpane. A dog barked somewhere in the darkness, and however often she tossed and turned Meggie couldn’t get to sleep.

The book she had been reading was under her pillow, pressing its cover against her ear as if to lure her back into its printed pages. “I’m sure it must be very comfortable sleeping with a hard, rectangular thing like that under your head,” her father had teased the first time he found a book under her pillow. “Go on, admit it, the book whispers its story to you at night.”

“Sometimes, yes,” Meggie had said. “But it only works for children.” Which made Mo tweak her nose. Mo. Meggie had never called her father anything else.

That night — when so much began and so many things changed forever — Meggie had one of her favorite books under her pillow, and since the rain wouldn’t let her sleep she sat up, rubbed the drowsiness from her eyes, and took it out. Its pages rustled promisingly when she opened it. Meggie thought this first whisper sounded a little different from one book to another, depending on whether or not she already knew the story it was going to tell her. But she needed light. She had a box of matches hidden in the drawer of her bedside table. Mo had forbidden her to light candles at night. He didn’t like fire. “Fire devours books,” he always said, but she was twelve years old, she surely could be trusted to keep an eye on a couple of candle flames. Meggie loved to read by candlelight. She had five candlesticks on the windowsill, and she was just holding the lighted match to one of the black wicks when she heard footsteps outside. She blew out the match in alarm — oh, how well she remembered it, even many years later — and knelt to look out of the window, which was wet with rain. Then she saw him.

The rain cast a kind of pallor on the darkness, and the stranger was little more than a shadow. Only his face gleamed white as he looked up at Meggie. His hair clung to his wet forehead. The rain was falling on him, but he ignored it. He stood there motionless, arms crossed over his chest as if that might at least warm him a little. And he kept on staring at the house.

I love this beginning!  Don't you just want to know who the man is?  I love how the love of reading and books is woven throughout this novel.  The first paragraphs already bring that theme out and that is why I think it is an amazing lead.

2. The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John

I don't have a copy of this one at home to quote from, but I love the beginning.  In the first chapter Martine survives a fire that her parents do not survive.  This is a memorable beginning and I always tell my students that it is one of the best I have read.

3. A Wrinkle in Time

"It was a dark and stormy night."  I guess I like rainy starts to books.  This one is used in a lot of examples of great leads in a lot of books about writing workshop.  I agree that this beginning really pulls me in even now when I have read the book multiple times.

4. The Book Thief

When I first started this book, I did not know anything about the style of the book or the narrator.  The beginning of this book is so stylistic and different.  The fact that the reader is being introduced to Death as the narrator is outstanding.  This book pulled me in immediately and kept me wrapped up in its story the whole time.

5. Shatter Me

   "I've been locked up for 264 days.
     I have nothing but a small notebook and a broken pen and the numbers in my head to keep me company. 1 window. 4 walls. 144 square feet of space. 26 letters in an alphabet I haven't spoken in 264 days of isolation. 6,336 hours since I've touched another human being."

Whoa.  What other numbers does she have in there?  Why hasn't she touched anyone? Isolation for 264 days, what the heck did she do?  The best beginnings give the reader a ton of questions to investigate.  I want to know more immediately upon reading these first lines.  The book goes on to introduce us to a good-looking boy that is dumped in Julia's cell to become her cellmate.  So curious questions and hot guy...great start!

Amazing Endings:

6. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Without giving away too much, I just love Ari's parents.  This ending was amazing and I am glad the story went this way.

Gone With the Wind

I read this one while I was in middle school.  When I reached the end of the book, I sobbed and sobbed.  It was just the right amount of drama for a dramatic teenager.  The way it ends is so heartbreaking but true to real life and the way it might go for real people.  Plus, it made for one of the best cinematic moments in Hollywood.

8. Bridget Jones' Diary

I love this story and the movie they made of the story.  It ends so well and the reader can imagine that Bridget and Mark Darcy will go on to have a good life together full of mishaps and funny misunderstandings.  I wish it would have stayed a standalone novel without the awful sequel that went way over the top with outrageous situations.  

9. The Giver

Not everyone will agree with this one, but I like how it is left open.  This book is so thought-provoking and one that begs for discussion.  If it had an ending that had tied everything up neatly, it would not create such a stir in reader's heads.  As it is, the reader is left with a sense of hope that Jonas will find a better life somewhere away from this dystopian village.  

10. Harry Potter

The end of this series is really well done.  It would have been so awful to arrive at the end of a set of books as amazing as this only to be disappointed in the end.  I was so happy that J.K.Rowling gave us all a little glimpse into the world of Harry, Ron, and Hermione as adults.  I wouldn't normally like that kind of epilogue, but in this case I was happy to be able to see into the future of these beloved characters.  

Which books do you think begin well or end well?   Do you agree with my list?  Let's start a conversation below!



  1. Good call on Shatter Me - I had forgotten about that. All those crossed out lines and the numbers had me from word one.

    TTT @ Krista's Dust Jacket

  2. Ahhh Inkheart, love the beginning; it was so descriptive, beautiful writing. Agreed on A Wrinkle in Time...love storms.

  3. Great list! I've read quite a few of these. I still need to read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.