#BookBeginnings Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder

Last week I discovered a fun new book meme hosted at Rose City Reader called Book Beginnings on Fridays. It’s easy to participate, simply share the first sentence or so of a book you are reading and your thoughts about it.


This week we are reading State of Wonder: A Novel by Ann Patchett.

First sentence:

The news of Ander Eckman’s death came by way of Aerogram, a piece of bright blue airmail paper that served as both the stationary and, when folded over and sealed along the edges, the envelope.

This sentence generates a number of questions, such as why such an impersonal way to announce a death? Who is Nader Eckman? What is his relationship to the recipient? How did he die? Where did he die? It must have been far away to require an airmail letter.

I liked the description of the envelope. If you have ever received airmail, you can probably envision the flimsy blue-gray paper.

Opinion: ¬† I’m beginning to think a death in the first sentence is an overused way to generate interest. But maybe that’s just because I read a lot of mysteries, which tend to have a dead body show up within the first few pages.

What do you think? Is mentioning a death in the first sentence overused?

Are you a fan of Ann Patchett?


Currently we are hosting a challenge to read through the list of 100 bestsellers recommended in The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and¬†Matthew L. Jockers. State of Wonder is number 99 on the list, and we’ll be starting the discussion on Monday November 21, 2016.


  1. Whitney @ First Impressions Reviews

    I think it is hard to escape dead bodies popping up early in mystery novels. However, it can be a cheap way to grab your attention. I’d rather be drawn in by character and/or plot development instead of the shock of death. Although, I have heard good things about State of Wonder and I hope you enjoy it.

    • Roberta


      I agree. It makes more sense to have the reader care about a character before doing away with him or her. I guess we keep reading because we want to know “what happened?”

  2. Bev

    Yay – I love Ann Patchett. I recently read Commonwealth. Hope you enjoy this one – it sounds good.

    • Roberta


      This is my first Ann Patchett. Probably many people have read State of Wonder already because it was published in 2011. However, it’s on the reading list as one of the best of the bestsellers, so we’re giving it a try.

  3. Violet

    This does seem like a line to interest you in reading further. I’ve never read an Ann Patchett before although I do own one of her books.

    • Roberta

      Violet, If you decide to read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  4. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library

    They do seem to stumble on a dead body pretty frequently in the first sentence of a mystery! This sounds good and I’ve been wanting to read Ann Patchett. Hope you enjoy it!

    • Roberta

      Thanks, Katherine. We are going to start discussing it next week if you’d like to drop by.

  5. sherry fundin

    Welcome to Book Beginnings. I enjoy it too. When a dead body appears early, that is a good thing. LOL
    sherry @ fundinmental Friday Memes

    • Roberta

      I’m amazed by what I’m learning from Book Beginnings. Not only finding new books I want to read, but also how different authors of different genres handle their first line. Plus, it’s a pretty easy blog post to prepare. Win-win-win! I’m so glad I discovered it.

  6. Lauren @ Always Me

    One of these days I’ll have to try Ann Practchett!

    • Roberta


      You should. She definitely packs a lot into her books.

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