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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 March, 2004, 12:49 GMT
Quiz: How well read are you?
Woman reading
Thursday is World Book Day - so how well do you know famous opening lines?

Accountants spend an average of five hours a week reading - more than anybody else.

Secretaries came second, followed by MPs, journalists and taxi drivers. Members of the clergy were least likely to be found with a book

Test yourself with our quiz on the first lines of well-known books - and send us your suggestions for first lines of your own.

Question 1
Which book starts with the line: "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen"?
A: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
B: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
C: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Question 2
A Tale of Two Cities starts with the words "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." But how does Dickens continue?
A: It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity
B: It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness
C: We had everything before us, we had nothing before us
Question 3
Which of the following first lines DOES NOT belong to a Booker Prize winner?
A: For a man of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has, to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well.
B: Eric Vernon walked into Samís place, a seedy topless bar in the valley, and immediately fixed his gaze on Arliss Shepherd.
C: Two former loves of Molly Lane stood waiting outside the crematorium chapel with their backs to the February chill.
Question 4
"It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me." Who wrote it?
A: Anthony Burgess
B: Kingsley Amis
C: William Burroughs
Question 5
Which novel contains the immortal opening line: "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents - except at occasional intervals"?
A: Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
B: Dracula by Bram Stoker
C: Paul Clifford by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton
Question 6
Which great American novel begins with the sentence: "In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since"?
A: The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
B: The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
C: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Question 7
"O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Oh no, Iím out of here." The start to which celebrity biography?
A: My Side - David Beckham
B: Rags to Richie Ė Shane Richie
C: Raw - Antony Worrall Thompson
Question 8
Which novel begins with the request, "Call me Ishmael"?
A: The Godfather by Mario Puzo
B: Moby Dick by Herman Melville
C: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Question 9
"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." The start to which JRR Tolkien book?
A: The Hobbit
B: The Silmarillion
C: The Fellowship of the Rings
Question 10
Which celebrated children's novel begins: "These two very old people are the father and mother of Mr Bucket"?
A: Stig of the Dump by Clive King
B: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
C: Charlotte's Web by EB White

 Press the button and see how you have done


So what would your first line to a book be? Here is a selection from the hundreds of suggestions received so far.

It all started when the rotting carcass of a whale shark and several tons of sea water turned up in the basement vault of the city bank.
CDC, UK

I cannot write, not even letters to friends, but I want to write my story as much for you to read it as for me to understand it.
Una , USA

Never begin a book wiht a poor first line because you will never get the publishers attention.
Ste, UK

As I mounted the veranda I smelt her flesh. August's perfume smoothed upon the walls, her noises echoing down stairs like tinkling china quivering for a good tea.
Mike, UK

For the rest of that week, I thought a lot about her and my experiences in the shopping mall, and well, work sort of went to pot.
Jeff, UK

Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread. Meet Dave Fools, detective, maverick, and crime buster.
Mike Collins, UK

She drank the bourbon like it was oxygen not realising that her lifeline was the man who had poured it for her.
Lindsey Pentith, UK

After the gunshot, silence, like a poultice, fell.
Peter McNaughton, Canada

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