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Adams, Douglas

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 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Angelou, Maya

When I was three and Bailey four, we had arrived in the musty little town, wearing tags on our wrists which instructed – ‘To Whom It May Concern’ – that we were Marguerite and Bailey Johnson Jr., from Long Beach, California, en route to Stamps, Arkansas, c/o Mrs. Annie Henderson.

- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Beckett, Samuel

The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.

- Murphy

Bradbury, Ray

It was a pleasure to burn.

- Fahrenheit 451

Calvino, Italo

You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler.

- If on a winter's night a traveler

Cervantes, Miguel

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

Dickens, Charles

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

- A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.

- Oliver Twist

Fitzgerald, F Scott

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

- The Great Gatsby

Gibson, William

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

- Neuromancer

Joyce, James

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.

- Ulysses

Kafka, Franz

Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.

- The Trial

Melville, Herman

Call me Ishmael.

- Moby Dick (wr. 1851)

Orwell, George

It was a brightcold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

- 1984 (wr. 1949)

Plath, Sylvia

It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.

- Bell Jar

Proust, Marcel

For a long time, I went to bed early.

- Swann's Way, In Search Of Lost Time Bk 1

Salinger, JD

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 how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

- Catcher in the Rye

Tolstoy, Leo

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

- Anna Karenina (wr. 1877, Constance Garnett)

Vonnegut, Kurt

All this happened, more or less.

- Slaughterhouse-Five