I walk into the joint, wearing my finest flats and mid-afternoon attire. Ya, my shelves back home are full but I could always do with more paper. I’m addicted to turning pages see? I head right to the spots I like, drinking down that good fiction, taking a shot of those best-sellers. The company is just the kind of clichés I like, modestly dressed employees wearing glasses, pretentious book snobs sipping coffee while browsing; the curious isle wanderers, the specific searchers.
With so many covers lining the walls waiting to be picked up, it’s hard to judge what is worth the journey. In Toronto for only a few more weeks, and my luggage already overweight, I had to be very particular about what books made it back.
So, I decided to read the first page of each one. My decision was based on if it was able to suck me in so I could barely crawl out, or if I could move on, unmoved. Listed below are the lines that hooked me and sunk me down. Introducing the paperback pick-up lines.
“It’s heroine isn’t it?”
“In fact it is.” The policeman looked kindly at him. “How did you know?”
“Naw…I mean, I’ve read a lot and stuff.”
The policeman nodded.
“Now there’s a good thing. Reading.” He shook the little bag. “You won’t have much time for it if you get into this though. How much do you think this little bag is worth?”
Oskar didn’t feel the need to say anything else. He had been looked at and spoken to. Had even been able to tell the cop he read a lot. That was more than he had hoped for.
He let himself sink into a daydream. How the policeman came up to him after class and was interested in him, sat down next to him. Then he would tell him everything. And the policeman would understand. He would stroke his hair and tell him he was alright; would hold him and say…
Johnny Forsberg drove a hard finger into his side.
2. Brain On Fire (memoir) – Susannah Cahalan
Maybe it all began with a bug bite, from a bedbug that didn’t exist.
One morning, I’d woken up to find two red dots on the main purplish-blue vein running down my left arm. It was early 2009, and New York City was awash in bedbug scares; they were infested offices, clothing stores, movie theatres, and park benches. Though I wasn’t naturally a worrier, my dreams had been occupied for two nights straight by finger-long bedbugs.
3. Room – Emma Donoghue
Today I am five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra. Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero.
“Was I minus numbers?”
“Hmm?” Ma does a big stretch.
“Up in Heaven. Was I minus one, minus two, minus three -?”
“Nah, the numbers didn’t start till you zoomed down.”
4. The Radiant City – Lauren B. Davis
The night is the wrong colour.
The first sound he heard was the horses. They sounded like eagles torn apart, like metal gears stripping, like speared whales. Matthew ran to the window. The barn was firelit from within, and orange tongues flickered up almost gently from the roof. His parents and his brother were already in the yard. His father strained to keep his mother from running headlong into the inferno.
5. The Meaning of Night – Michael Cox
After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn’s for an oyster supper.
6. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men – David Foster Wallace
Happy Birthday. Your thirteenth is important. Maybe your first really public day. Your thirteenth is the chance for people to recognize that important things are happening for you.
7. Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon
A screaming comes from across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.
It is too late. The Evacuation still proceeds, but it’s all theatre. There are no lights inside the cars. No lights anywhere. Above him lift girders old as an iron queen, and glass somewhere far above that would let the light of day through. But it is night. He’s afraid of the way the glass will fall – soon – it will be a spectacle: the fall of crystal palace. But coming down in total blackout, without one glint of light, only great invisible crashing.
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