Guess the Book from the First Two Lines

Let’s shake off the cold and challenge your bookworm brain. Can you guess the title of the book and/or the author of these twenty books, from the first two lines?

Prologues are not included, we started from page one, chapter one. In a few cases, the author is an artist who uses few words, so there are three lines to guess from.

These lines have made writers immortal, their books famous. No cheating-these are all well-known works. They come from many different genres, so eclectic readers will have a good head start here, and we tried to mix it up about half and half with male and female authors.

Ready to start?

1. Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.

2. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.

3. There’s a guy like me in every state and federal prison in America, I guess-I’m the guy who can get it for you. Tailor-made cigarettes, a bag of reefer if you’re partial to that, a bottle of brandy to celebrate your son or daughter’s high-school graduation, or almost anything else . . . within reason, that is.

4.  124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom. The women in the house knew it and so did the children

5. In the week before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul. It was a warm night at Castle Caladan, and the ancient pile of stone that had served the Atreides family as home for twenty-six generations bore that cooled sweat feeling it acquired before a change in the weather.

6. The family of Dashwood had been long settled in Sussex. Their estate was large, and their property, where for many generations they had lived in so respectable a manner as to engage the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintances.

7. Not for the first time, an argument had broken out over breakfast at number four, Privet Drive. Mr. Vernon Dursley had been woken in the early hours of the morning by a loud, hooting noise from his nephew Harry’s room.

8. 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 anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages you’ve had.”

9. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they executed the Rosenburgs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. I’m stupid about executions.

10. There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.

11. It happened every year, was almost a ritual. And this was his eighty-second birthday

12. On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back. If he had been more analytical, he might have calculated the approximate time of their arrival; but he still used the lifetime habit of judging nightfall by the sky, and on cloudy days that method didn’t work.

13. Muse, tell me of the man of many wiles, the man who wandered many paths of exile after he sacked Troy’s sacred citadel. He saw the cities-mapped the minds-of many; and on the sea, his spirit suffered every adversity-to keep his life intact; to bring his comrades back.

14. We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The floor was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone.

15. The Island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards. From the towns in its high valleys and the ports on its dark narrow bays many a Gontishman has gone forth to serve the Lords of the Archipelago in their cities as wizard or mage, or, looking for adventure, to wander working magic from isle to isle in all of Earthsea.

16. In the corner of a first-class smoking carriage, Mr. Justice Wargrave, lately retired from the bench, puffed at a cigar and ran an interested eye through the political news in the Times. He laid the paper down and glanced out of the window.

17. 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. Bilbo was very rich and very peculiar, and had been the wonder of the Shire for sixty years, ever since his remarkable disappearance and unexpected return.

18. All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. One guy I knew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn’t his.

19. When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home. I was wishing I looked like Paul Newman-he looks tough and I don’t-but I guess my own looks aren’t so bad.

20. 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.



1. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

2. 1984, George Orwell

3. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, Stephen King

4. Beloved, Toni Morrison

5. Dune, Frank Herbert

6. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen

7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, JK Rowling

8. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

9. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

11. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larson

12. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson

13. The Odyssey, Homer

14. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

15. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin

16. And Then There Were None (also published as Ten Little Indians), Agatha Christie

17. The Fellowship of the Ring, JRR Tolkien

18. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

19. The Outsiders, SE Hinton

20. Matilda, Roald Dahl


7 thoughts on “Guess the Book from the First Two Lines

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s