First lines of my 10 most widely recommended books (with links)

It is one of my greatest joys in life to be a person people occasionally turn to for book recs. It’s part of the territory for people with CW degrees, I suppose. In making these recommendations, I realized there’s a handful of books that I will typically cycle through when making suggestions, based on what I know about the person’s interests or patience or even politics.

Then I saw this article on Poets & Writers called PAGE ONE: WHERE NEW AND NOTEWORTHY BOOKS BEGIN. It gives just the first line, no review or notes. Reading it felt like browsing the first page in a bookstore aisle, which is the only way to choose properly. So, here’s a little taster of the books I am most likely to recommend should you ask!

(Links provided through, seriously the easiest way to shop online and still support local bookstores. You’ll never need to buy books on Amazon again.)

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links through Bookshop. The opinions are all my own, but purchasing through the links will give me a small commission. But more importantly, your purchase gives commission to support small bookstores as well!*

Conversations with Friends

“Bobbi and I first met Melissa at a poetry night in town, where we were performing together.”

The Idiot

“I didn’t know what email was until I got to college.”


“You will develop a palate.”

Prosperous Friends

“Such exorbitant crying!”


“I told you last night that I might be gone sometime, and you said, Where, and I said, To be with the Good Lord, and you said, Why, and I said, Because I’m old, and you said, I don’t think you’re old.”


“After the End came the Beginning.”

Virgin and Other Stories

“Jake hadn’t meant to stare at her breasts, but there they were, absurdly beautiful, almost glowing above the plunging neckline of the faded blue dress.”

Studies in the Hereafter

“I’m just a bureaucrat.'”

Jesus’ Son

“A salesman who shared his liquor and steered while sleeping… A Cherokee filled with bourbon… A VW no more than a bubble of hashish fumes, captained by a college student…”

Friday Black

“Fela, the headless girl, walked toward Emmanuel.”

Happy reading!

xx, Tab

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