The surname book meme

I picked this up after spotting it at Cate Gardener’s blog and Aaron Polson’s blog. It goes like this:

From the biggest bookcase you have, pick out one book whose author’s last name starts with each letter of your last name. If you have no books by an author whose last name starts with a particular letter, go to the next letter. If you have two of the same letter in your last name, get two separate authors, not two books by the same author. Bonus: If you can, pick the first book you haven’t read off your shelf, unless you’re one of those people who’s read all the books you own.

– Post the first sentence of each book, along with the author and title. Feel free to skip prefaces and such, especially if they’re by a different writer.

I thought it sounded like a bit of fun, so here goes.

B – Iain M Banks, The Player Of Games

First line: This is the story of a man who went far away for a long time, just to play a game.

This is one of my favourite Culture novels from Banks. I love the story concept and the delivery. And that is a cracker of an opening line. Perhaps it’s because I’m something of a gamer myself, but I think anyone would be intrigued by a start like that.

A – Isaac Asimov, Foundation

First line: His name was Gaal Domick and he was just a country boy who had never seen Trantor before.

Thus begins an epic story.

X – Not surprisingly, I don’t have any books by authors whose surname begins with an X. I’ve been trying to think if there are any authors whose surname begins with X. I can’t think of any. If you can, leave them in the comments. So, according to the meme rules, I have to move on to the next letter in the alphabet, which is Y.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro – A Feast In Exile

First line: Along the backs of the bazaar stalls people gathered in knots to exchange the rumors they had heard during the day’s buying and selling; it was late on an overcast, sultry afternoon that had been filled with distant thunder , a sign many took as ominous, since it was known that Timur-i and his army were on the move, although no one knew where they would turn next.

Blimey, you could pass out reading that sentence in a single breath. I picked this up second hand after Chelsea had appeared at the Continuum convention last month. I hadn’t heard of her work before, then saw this in a second hand book store. I haven’t read it yet. Perhaps this counts as the bonus, according to the rules. I have unread books everywhere, so I’ve no idea what constitutes the first one. I must say, I’m surprised the editors let this first sentence through – it’s a behemoth. If that semi-colon was switched for a full stop and the whole thing split in two, I think it would make a far less confronting opening line.

T – J R R Tolkein – The Lord Of The Rings

First line: 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.

Man, reading that again now transports me back to being an impressionable twelve year old, first discovering the joys of fantasy fiction. This book holds a special place in my heart, and I think it always will.

E – David Eddings – The Belgariad

First line: When the world was new, the seven Gods dwelt in harmony, and the races of man were as one people.

It’s cool that The Lord Of The Rings and The Belgariad can appear together here like this. These are the first two sets of books that really entrenched in me a love for speculative fiction and set me on the road to becoming a writer.

R – Anne Rice, Interview With The Vampire


First line: “I see,” said the vampire thoughtfully, and slowly he walked across the room towards the window.

She has a lot to answer for when it comes to romanticising vampires, but no one can deny Rice’s impact on the horror/fantasy genre. And as for those “rules” tragics that talk about avoiding any adverbs in your fiction, check out the two in that first line. The first line of a book that’s sold something like seven million copes. Screw you and your writing rules. Write a good story and write it well – it doesn’t matter whether you stick close to some arbitrary style guide or not.

Consider yourself tagged and pick up this meme if you like it. Leave a comment with your own effort so we can see what you come up with.


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8 thoughts on “The surname book meme

  1. Yikes! Another meme. 😉 This one sounds like fun. I’ll give it a shot. It will take me a while to pull it together although I don’t have any particularly hard letters to try to match.

    I have similar fond memories of the opening line from LotR.

  2. JM – You have a longer surname than me too! Good luck – drop a comment here when you’re done so we can find your version.

  3. An above average book meme so will give it a go (without the summaries, just to encourage some browsing of Amazon)

    Why Not Me?
    Al Franken
    The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Broder once wrote something to the effect that “anyone who’s willing to do what it takes to be president should be immediately disqualified”.

    The Fall of Constantinople, 1453
    Steven Runciman
    On Christmas Day in the year 1400 King Henry IV of England gave a banquet in his palace of Eltham

    The Unconsoled
    Kazuo Ishiguro
    The taxi driver seemed embarrassed to find there was no one – not even a clerk behind the reception desk – waiting to welcome me.

    The Selfish Gene
    Richard Dawkins
    Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence.

    The Autobiography of Malcolm X
    When my mother was pregnant with me, she told me later, a party of hooded Ku Klux Klan riders galloped up to our home in Omaha, Nebraska, one night.

    Catch Me If You Can
    Frank Abagnale
    A man’s alter ego is nothing more than his favourite image of himself.

    Vladimir Nabokov
    Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.

    I wonder where that last one is going..?!

  4. Michael – Nice list. Although, I’m not sure about the Malcolm X one. Isn’t that an X rather than an M? (Or an L, as he was borm Malcolm Little?) 🙂

    Thanks for joining in!

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