First Lines from the Books Picked “Best of 2023”

By Amazon Editors

First Lines is a series of blog articles posted on around the first of the month. The first line of a story, we’re told, must hook the reader. Implied is that the reader will not buy the book if the first line isn’t great. These entries are all from a list of Amazon’s Editor’s Picks of the best books of 2023. Do you agree with the editors? Do these first lines hook you? Do you want to read more?

The Cover of the Lost Bookshop is a closeup of bookshelves, one shelf has a yellow two story brick house or store sandwiched between thick and thin old books. Tendrils of philadendon cascade down the left and right edges of the cover.

The rainy streets of Dublin, on a cold winter day were no place for young boy to dawdle, unless that very same boy, had his nose pressed up against the window of the most fascinating bookshop. Lights twinkle inside, and the colorful covers called to him, promising stories of adventure, and escape. The window was packed with novelties and trinkets; miniature, hot air balloons, almost reaching the ceiling, while music boxes with mechanical birds, and carousels, twirled and shined within. The lady inside, spotted him and waved him in. He shook his head and blushed slightly.

The Lost Bookshop,Evie Woods

The cover of The Haunting of Helver Manor is a black and white photograph of a large house with a covered porch and a spire-topped turret in one corner. The sky, a small space in front of the house and the lower right corner are a baby blue in color.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” she whispered.

Her new husband wrapped his arm around her shoulder, nuzzling her neck as she looked out over the backyard. The wedding dress that clung to her figure had been restricting her breathing for hours. Now, watching the party beneath the elegant canopies below the estate in the massive yard, she felt belonging in her heart. It was everything she dreamed of as a little girl, everything except the man at her side.

The Haunting of Helver Manor,  Marie Wilkins

The Cover of Our Missing Hearst is a gradiated color from pale almost white to a teal blue with a yellow banner that runs the length of the right edge and reads instant New York Times Bestseller. The title is in white "handwritten" font. A crude black and brown drawing at the end of the title and before the author name could be a ship or an island with black silhouettes of birds rising from the brown image.

The letter arrives on a Friday. Slit and resealed with the sticker, of course, as their letters are: Inspected for your safety – PACT. It had caused confusion at the post office, the clerk, and folding the paper inside, studying it, passing it up to a supervisor, then the boss. But eventually it had been deemed harmless and sent on its way. No return address, only in New York, New York, postmark, six days old. On the outside, his name—and because of this, he knows it is from his mother.”

Our Missing Hearts, Celeste Ng

Jen is glad of the clocks going back tonight. Gained our, extra time, to be spent pretending she isn’t waiting up for her son.

Now that it is past midnight, it is officially 30 October. Almost Halloween. Jen tells herself that Todd is 18, her September baby now an adult. He can do whatever he wants.

Wrong Place Wrong Time, Gillian McAllister

The cover of the Quarry Girls is a photo looking down a green hill past the edge of some leaves from a tree at a still body of water with someone in the middle of the lake.

The drums made me something better.

Something whole.

Bam, ba bum. Bam, ba bum. Bam bam bam.

Directly in front of me, Brenda wailed into the microphone, lighting up her guitar like she’d been born to it, a spotlight seem to shine on her, even inside Maureen’s, dingy garage. She suddenly spun upon her acts behind her back, her strap, hugging snug to her butt.

The Quarry Girls, Jess Lourey

The cover illustration of The Keeper of Happy Endings shows the back of a woman looking out a window at the Eiffel Tower.

I have always grieved the end of things. The final notes of the song is they have been to silent. The curtain falling at the end of a play. The last snowflake. Goodbyes.

So many goodbyes.

They all seem so long ago now, and yet the collective Ron still chiefs. I’ve had too much wine tonight, I think. It has made me morose. Or perhaps I’ve simply had too much life, too much sadness – too many scars. Still, I find myself drawn to those scars, a map of wounds that takes me neither forward nor back.

The Keeper of Happy Endings, Barbara Davis

The Cover of Hello beautiful is an illustration of a woman's face with shading done in shades of green and pink

For the first six days of William Walters life, he was not an only child. He had a three-year-old sister, a redhead named Caroline. There were silent home movies of Caroline, in which Williams father looked like he was laughing, a site William never saw again. His father’s face looked open, and the tiny redhead, who pulled her dress over her face and ran in giggling circles in one of the movies, was apparently the reason.

Hello Beautiful, Ann Napolitano

The cover of Where the forest meets the stars shows a night time photograph looking up through trees at a starry blue-black sky.

The girl could be a changeling. She was almost invisible, her pale face, hoodie, and pants, feeding into the twilight woods behind her. Her feet were bare. She stood motionless, one arm, hugged around the hickory trunk, and she didn’t move when the car crunched to the end of the gravel driveway and stopped a few yards away.

As she shut down the car, Jo looked away from the girl and gathered binoculars, backpack, and data sheets from the passenger seat. Maybe the kid would return to her fairy realm if she wasn’t watching.

Where the Forest Meets the Stars, Glendy Vanderah


There are no affiliate links in this post. I don’t make a cent off of the books listed on this page. Usually these titles are pulled at random. They are here for your enjoyment. And to entice you to buy more books. If you also buy one of my books, well thank you for putting dinner on my table!

Do You Want to Read More?

Check out previous First Lines posts

I’m curious.

Did you agree with the Amazon Editors? Did these first lines hook you? 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *