If you’re looking for a fun way to incorporate books into date night, look no further! My husband and I created this fun game just for you.
My husband and I write together, so it’s only natural that one of our favorite date night activities is going to the bookstore. We could spend hours there just browsing books and reading to each other. We’re also both huge proponents of hooks (first lines and first pages). We believe that the first line can make or break a book.
When we walk into a bookstore, we pick up books because the cover intrigues us, or maybe the title. Then we skim the back cover blurb to see if it seems like something we’d like. But what makes us actually pull the trigger and buy the book? The hook.
Somewhere along the way, our favorite date night activity turned into a game. We’d step into the bookstore and both start gathering up books based on the cover/title/back cover blurb. Once we each had a nice stack, we’d find a place to sit and take turns reading the hook. Sometimes we’d only read a line or two, but other times we’d keep reading because we just couldn’t stop. Then we’d judge them against each other and place them in order from most intriguing to least intriguing. And, of course, we’d buy the best book. Or two. Or five.
Well, this date got repeated so often that we decided to give it a name: Book Hook Battle. This group can be done as a couple, on a group date, as a family, or even with a group of friends!
Print a copy of the scoring sheet for each person participating. You may need to print more than one sheet, if you have a large group or want to choose more than ten books total.
Go to your favorite bookstore. A library will work too!
Instruct each participant to browse the bookstore and pick out X amount of books. You can set a time limit or just find each other when you’re all done. DO NOT read the first line of your books yet! Let it be a surprise with the group.
Take turns reading the first line (or a little more) of each of your books out loud. We like to alternate: one of my books, then one of his. But you can have one person read from all of their books, then move to the next person. After each line is read, take a minute to let everyone score the hook (see the free printable below!).
Instructions on scoring:
Each item may be scored 0-5. Half points are allowed.
Originality: Is the line unique?
Emotion: Does the line evoke some sort of emotion in you? Fear, sadness, laughter. It can be any emotion (bonus points if the emotion ties to the genre!).
Hookability: Do you want to keep reading? Do you HAVE to keep reading?
Tally up your scores and find your personal winner, then figure out which book is the overall winner.
Step Six (optional)
Buy the winning book to show the author your support!
Our Book Hook Battle
Jess’s stack (middle grade):
Brit’s Stack (mix of middle grade and young adult):
The winners (we couldn’t pick just one):
Timmy Failure: The Cat Stole My Pants by Stephan Pastis–Hook
Humor tends to draw us both in pretty quickly. But, I mean, how can you NOT keep reading after this?
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti–Hook
This one has a very different feel, but the voice oozes out of it and we get a pretty good sense of what (I think) the story will be about and the emotions it will evoke.
Book Hook Battle: Your Turn
Now who wants to do their own Book Hook Battle? I created the FREE printable below to help you get started. Just print out a copy for you and your date (or friend or sister or dad), head to a bookstore, pick out your stack of books, read all the lines, and find your winner. When you’re done, snap a pic and use #BookHookBattle on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to share your winners!
If you want your own FREE printable Book Hook Battle scoresheet, sign-up below and I’ll send it right over. It also includes the step-by-step game instructions!
Do you have a favorite first line? Let me know in the comments, then share this with your friends below!