Beginnings and Endings (A Top Ten Tuesday on Thursday)

The Broke and the Bookish have a great list of Top Ten Tuesday post ideas. Stacie’s got the Tuesday post covered, but I was feeling desperate for an idea, so I went to their list to find inspiration for today.

This was the July 30 Top Ten — Top 10 book beginning/book endings , but you know what they say about late being better than never.  (Here’s their original post!, and they divided the list between openings and closings just like I did.)

last page

Favorite Beginnings:

Beginnings stick with me, often in specific lines. Some of these I had to go look up because I couldn’t remember them word-for-word, but I had an indelible sense that there was something on page one that sucked me in entirely.

1. Idlewild, Nick Sagan (with props to Roger Zelazny) “I’m not dead. It’s a dim realization but an important one, because I should have died.” I’ve got this one memorized. Bam. I’m in the story. Also, it’s time to reread this series again…

2. The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham “When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.” (I picked Triffids up unknowingly, got hooked with this line and try to convince other sci-fi fans not to miss this classic.)

3. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Douglas Adams “The story so far: In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” (Having listened to this whole series on audiobook recently, this line is always in my head in Martin Freeman’s voice.)

4. Windy City, Scott Simon “The mayor was found shortly after eleven, with his bronze, brooding face lying on the last two slices of a prosciutto and artichoke pizza, and his wide mouth gaping, as if gulping for a smashed, brown bulb of garlic with life’s last breath.” (Chicago pizza and politics!)

5. Gentlemen and Players, Joanne Harris, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past fifteen years, it’s this: that murder is really no big deal.” (CREEPY!)

Favorite Endings:

Endings are harder. Sometimes I remember lines, but more, it’s that feeling of finality and that things have turned out rightly for the characters or the satisfaction of getting through a book and appreciating the story as a whole piece.

1. Watership Down, Richard Adams. It’s not a final line, but that bit about Hazel stopping running… It was a good friend who made me realize the beauty in this ending.

2. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” While the last line is famous, of course, it’s really that whole last two pages that sing.

3.  Johnny Tremain, Esther Forbes. “A man can stand up…” Again, I don’t think this is the final line of the book, but it’s so good to realize what lesson Johnny has learned or is learning through the story.

4. The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton. (I’m noticing that all these endings have some level of sadness in common and I’m not sure what that means…) I like books that loop the beginning and ending together and how you don’t even realize it until you see it.

5. Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin. If you follow pop culture at all, thanks to the show, you know everybody in these books dies. But, in 1996 when this was brand new, I remember clearly sitting in my room reading this ending (maybe not even the end, end) when the person I thought was going to be a main character died. I was shocked. SHOCKED. It was probably the first time a main character had ever been killed like that in a book I’d read. Doesn’t mean I liked it. But, it stuck!

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One thought on “Beginnings and Endings (A Top Ten Tuesday on Thursday)

  1. scribejay says:

    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate the ending of Adams’ initial “Hitchhiker’s Guide” book because I learned why it’s so abrupt: Adams was so terrified of writing and so frequently missed deadlines that his editor finally said, “Can you just finish up the page you’re currently on and send that much in?”

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