book beginnings on Friday: Water Tossing Boulders: How a Family of Chinese Immigrants Led the First Fight to Desegregate Schools in the Jim Crow South by Adrienne Berard

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

I am of course intrigued by what the back of this book calls a “vital, hidden chapter of America’s past.”

water tossing boulders

Water Tossing Boulders concerns a Chinese immigrant family in Mississippi, where the children were denied public education in 1924. It begins:

As with all rumors, the stories grew over time, in the long months between June and September, when the air is so thick that gossip is all that circulates. The new students wouldn’t bathe. They didn’t have money to buy books. They didn’t care about learning. They had so many brothers and sisters, their mothers didn’t even know their names.

I guess I’m fascinated to see how a tragic but familiar story of Southern segregation and separate-but-equal schooling applies to a community we don’t normally associate with that story. Stick around.

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

book beginnings on Friday: A Very English Scandal by John Preston

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

very english

The title of this book alone tickles me.

So begins A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot in the Houses of Parliament:

One evening in February 1965, a man with a fondness for mohair suits, an unusually wrinkled face and a faint resemblance to Humphrey Bogart walked into the Members’ Dining Room at the House of Commons.

I smiled when I read this line, which so tidily sets a scene with those odd descriptive details that bring a character to life. I think this is a great starting sentence, and I’m looking forward to more! Stick around.

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

book beginnings on Friday: Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada, trans. by Susan Bernofsky

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

memoirs of a polar bear

I have a strange and interesting one to start off this weekend. The back of the book quotes the New Yorker on “Yoko Tawada’s magnificent strangeness.” I’m looking forward to it.

We begin:

Someone tickled me behind my ears, under my arms. I curled up, becoming a full moon, and rolled on the floor. I may also have emitted a few hoarse shrieks. Then I lifted my rump to the sky and slid my head below my belly. Now I was a sickle moon, still too young to imagine any danger.

Sweet, and strange. I’m game.

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

book beginnings on Friday: Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

I am very interested to be diving into my first Mary Oliver with an essay collection. I know her by reputation, naturally.

upstream

It starts in lovely form:

One tree is like another tree, but not too much. One tulip is like the next tulip, but not altogether. More or less like people–a general outline, then the stunning individual strokes. Hello Tom, hello Andy. Hello Archibald Violet, and Clarissa Bluebell. Hello Lilian Willow, and Noah, the oak tree I have hugged and kissed every first day of spring for the last thirty years. And in reply its thousands of leaves tremble! What a life is ours! Doesn’t anybody in the world anymore want to get up in the

middle of the night and
sing?

I see here trees; poetry; playfulness; and a spirit of celebration, which I do associate with Oliver. Feeling positive: happy Friday.

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

book beginnings on Friday: A Wife of Noble Character by Yvonne Georgina Puig

book beginnings

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

I am having a blast with this novel set in modern-day Houston’s high society, loosely based on Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.

wife of noble character

I will share with you the first lines of the book, as well. But for starters, I couldn’t resist quoting here, because just look at the opening epigraph and its original author, you guys:

I learned two things growing up in Texas.

1: God loves you, and you’re going to burn in hell forever.

2: Sex is the dirtiest and most dangerous thing you can possibly do, so save it for someone you love.

–Molly Ivins

My mother loves Molly Ivins. I was glad to see her here.

The opening lines of the novel itself are a little calmer:

Preston noticed her immediately. He always did.

But never fear. This is a book that will keep you turning the pages.

Stick around.

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

book beginnings on Friday: Origins of the Universe and What It All Means by Carole Firstman

origins of the universe

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

I’ve just begun a new memoir, about the author’s relationship with her decidedly eccentric father, a gifted biologist with poor social skills. It’s a little playful with formats within the book, and ranges from the personal to the broad. It’s called… Origins of the Universe and What It All Means.

What a title, right? Wait til you see the opening page. I’ve zoomed in, but this is the entire content of page one and chapter one:

one

“In the beginning there was darkness.”

Don’t worry, though, it’s justified & appropriate for this book. Do I have your attention now? Stay tuned…

This quotation comes from an uncorrected advance proof and is subject to change.

book beginnings on Friday: Seed by Michael Edelson

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting this meme. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

seed

I am finally getting around to reading Seed myself – so sorry for the delay! – after my favorite bartender reviewed it so long ago. Full disclosure: I took this free copy in exchange for my honest review, with friend Andy as intermediary. I do not, however, know the author myself.

I’m loving it! Check out these first lines.

Alex was killed at 11:43 AM. Not quite lunchtime, but close enough. He was stepping out of his armored personnel carrier when a string of pops erupted from the crest of a nearby hill, accompanied by a cloud of dust raised by muzzle blasts. His MILES gear started to buzz, indicating a hit, and Alex lay down on the ground and waited for the end of the engagement.

And then I didn’t look up for another 80 pages. It’s got great momentum. Stick around!

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