As an author, I can tell you that we spend as much time coming up with the perfect opening line as we do with the right last one – although for me, final lines are easier. I think it’s because the story is told, the characters are well-loved (or hated) friends, and how it ends all comes out in one big whoosh.
I think the final lines of these 14 popular books are spot-on perfection – take a look and see if you agree.
14. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
“But I don’t think us feel old at all. And us so happy. Matter of fact, I think this the youngest us ever felt.”
You can buy this Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner here.
13. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
“The eyes and faces all turned themselves towards me, and guiding myself by them, as by a magical thread, I stepped into the room.”
This is a fictional account of Plath’s experience as a “guest editor” at Mademoiselle.
12. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
“Up the road, in his shack, the old man was sleeping again. He was still sleeping on his face and the boy was sitting by him watching him. The old man was dreaming about the lions.”
This novel, meant to prove Hemingway wasn’t washed up, is available here.
11. The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
“But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”
Grab this iconic book and share the magic with your own kiddos.
10. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
“Then starting home, he walked toward the trees, and under them, leaving behind the big sky, the whisper of wind voices in the wind-bent wheat.”
Fun fact: Capote was joined by friend Harper Lee when he traveled to Kansas to investigate the Clutter family murders.
Grab the book here.
9. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
Almost as iconic as the opening line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …”
If you need a refresher, you can buy the book here.
8. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
“… I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.”
You can re-read the favorite book of college boys everywhere and see if it holds up as an adult.
7. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
“I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.”
It is kind of sad, if you think about it.
Buy the book here.
6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
“He turned out the light and went into Jem’s room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.”
Scouts neighbor, Dill, is based on Truman Capote.
Buy a copy for yourself here.
5. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
“She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smiled mysteriously.”
It kind of seems like a cliffhanger, but if you’ve ever read this depressing novel, you’ll recall being glad that it wasn’t.
See how you feel about it now, and read the book again.
4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Poetic, right? Nab a copy and read the whole, sad tale all over again.
3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
“Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this.”
And no, she never considered putting Jo and Laurie together.
You can buy it (and shove your copy in the freezer) here.
2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
“I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.”
If you haven’t read this in a while, may I recommend buying your copy now, and reading it in the dreary days of winter.
1. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
“But now I know that our world is no more permanent than a wave rising on the ocean. Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper.”
Read it again – or for the first time – with a pretty new copy.
If you would change any of these I would love to know how in the comments!
You know what they say – don’t come with a problem if you don’t have the solution!