10 Best Books by Ernest Hemingway

Sonia Akavan
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Millions of people around the world have read Ernest Hemingway’s works. His novels and short stories are some of the best in the world.

While some people might be intimidated by his writings (because they think it will be difficult to understand) and other people may be intimidated because of its length (the novels are often pretty long), there is no need for intimidation at all.

Here are 10 of his top works that have influenced literature in the modern age.

NameCategoryProduct
Hemingway on HuntingBest Overall
Hemingway on Hunting
The Fifth Column and the First Forty-nine StoriesBudget Pick
The Fifth Column and the First Forty-nine Stories
88 PoemsUpgrade Pick
88 Poems

1. Hemingway on Hunting

Our rating: 9 / 10


Hemingway on Hunting

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Hemingway’s first nonfiction book and arguably his most radical work, is about big game trophy hunting in Africa. It is considered one of the four books he wrote that essentially changed the face of English literature. The others are a book of six German stories, and the two books of the Nick Adams stories. Interestingly, the two last ones were written after he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

This book is about Hemingway’s safari to Africa, and what he experienced there. He and Pauline have left their son Patrick, and are on safari in the Masai Mara region and the surrounding area. Hemingway really marries the art of writing to the art of hunting in this book. He brings you with him as he hunts, and even though he is known to be quite a technical writer, with his descriptions of hunting one is reminded that Hemingway the writer is not only an observer of nature and man and the interaction between them, but is also visually one of the most successful and visually compelling writers as well. I liked the book thoroughly, and read it in one dissertation sitting, as it were.

2. The Fifth Column and the First Forty-nine Stories

Our rating: 8 / 10


The Fifth Column and the First Forty-nine Stories

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Pros:

  • Story full of suspense and drama
  • Simple sentences for easy reading
  • The stories reflect the time period in which they were written
  • Doesn’t overwhelm the reader with intense content
  • Classic Ernest Hemingway
  • Stories are easy to read
  • Newbies to Ernest Hemingway will learn some basics about him and his writing

Cons:

  • Some readers may find some of the content a bit intense
  • A few of the stories are not Ernest Hemingway’s best
  • Some stories are not included in the full list of short story masterpieces
  • Most writing is descriptive

What is it about Ernest Hemingway’s short stories that attract readers over and over again? Many people read them just to figure out how he tells a story. They are short and sweet and readers learn more about Ernest Hemingway as they read the stories.

This is a great opportunity to make a collection of Ernest Hemingway’s short stories in one neat and tidy place.

Hemingway has a way of making the stories come to life. Even the flat, descriptive pieces take on a conversational tone. Unfortunately, this collection is missing some of his most popular pieces.

3. The Old Man and The Sea

Our rating: 7 / 10


The Old Man and The Sea

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The Old Man and The Sea is one of Ernest Hemingway’s most famous books. It was written in 1953. If this is your first adventure with the great author, you are in for a treat.

This book tells the tale of a fisherman who is stuck on an empty ocean with no luck at all. It clearly conveys a sense of hopelessness by this old man who is trying his best to survive just one more day to feed himself.

When the old man’s luck turns, he catches a large marlin, and must go through a grueling battle with the fish to finally make it to shore with his catch. This book is considered to be the author’s most famous work and certainly one of his finest.

4. 88 Poems

Our rating: 6 / 10


88 Poems

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Pros:

  • Easy to read
  • Easy to understand

Cons:

  • Some poems are repetitive

Ernest Hemingway wrote 88 Poems in the style of a villanelle, but it intends to be a book of short stories. The book includes 88 villanelles, and also several poems that are not villanelles. The book is well known for Hemingway's style, as it is a fairly short book, and is easy to read in a short amount of time.

The poetry in this book is mostly love based and describes the loss of someone or the death of someone. The thing that sets the book apart from other poetry is that it tells a story.

It is easy to understand and decently enjoyable, but most people want Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. That is what most people associate Hemingway as a writer, and thus, if you want the epitome of Hemingway, start with The Old Man and the Sea.

5. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition

Our rating: 6 / 10


The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition

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The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition: Cuba, Spain, France, Africa is a book by Ernest Hemingway containing Hemingway's short stories. It was published in 2003 by Scribner Classics and contains the complete text of the posthumous story collection The First Forty-nine Stories, recently re-issued as The Complete Short Stories, as well as ten stories that have never before appeared in book form. It also contains an introduction by the author's sons Patrick Hemingway and Sean Hemingway.

6. A Farewell to Arms: The Hemingway Library Edition

Our rating: 6 / 10


A Farewell to Arms: The Hemingway Library Edition

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Pros:

  • Numerous updates from the original work
  • A moving and provocative memoir
  • A rare look into the mind of a man who is considered one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century

Cons:

  • The original ending was eliminated by the editors and publisher when first released
  • The current edition lacks the historical impact of the complete and uncensored book from World War 1

This is Hemingway's fictional memoir set in Italy during World War 1, which is a moving and provocative account of his own personal experiences and the lives of those around him. It is one of his earliest novels, and he initially considered it non-fiction because of how much it was based on stories and events that he witnessed as a Red Cross ambulance driver working in the war in Italy.

This fictional memoir is captured in Hemingway's own words. It is has been said that he wrote this book about the war in Italy to help him move on from the horrors of war.

7. For Whom the Bell Tolls

Our rating: 6 / 10


For Whom the Bell Tolls

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Pros:

  • Well written
  • Keeps you guessing until the end

Cons:

  • Very long

For Whom the Bell Tolls is an excellent read for any Hemingway fan, and even for those who have never read Hemingway. The book takes place in Spain during the beginning of World War 2. Robert Jordan, an American who joined the International Brigades, is hired by them to sabotage a bridge so that the Republican forces can defeat the Fascists.

What’s great about this novel is that Hemingway doesn’t give much detail about the war itself. Instead, he focuses on the characters and how they react to the war and what the war means to them and the overall direction of the country.

There are a few graphic battle scenes but they are writing with a lot of skill and artistic detail. The book's ending is well worth the journey and is one of the best endings in fiction.

8. In Our Time

Our rating: 6 / 10


In Our Time

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Pros:

  • Simple, precise writing
  • An accurate description of the social scene of the 1920s in Paris
  • Great sense of humor

Although Ernest Hemingway is known for his tough guy persona and stoic posturing, his early work is characterized by its humor and light tone. "In Our Time", Hemingway's debut publication, is a good example of this. This was the collection that first put the young Ernest Hemingway on the literary map, setting him on the path to stardom.

In this story, Hemingway tells the tale of young men in Paris during the 1920's. There are themes of war, hunting, hunting for women, and the men spending time at cafés and bars. "In Our Time" is a favorite among the various short story collections for its comedic tone.

9. The Nick Adams Stories

Our rating: 6 / 10


The Nick Adams Stories

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Pros:

  • The book includes two collections of short stories, Death In The Afternoon and The Green Hills Of Africa.
  • The book also has stories illustrating characters from For Whom The Bell Tolls and The Old Man And The Sea.

Cons:

  • Some of the stories are repetitive and the characters are poorly developed.

10. The Torrents of Spring

Our rating: 6 / 10


The Torrents of Spring

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Pros:

  • A funny novella parodying the rise of the American literary scene in Europe during the 1920s
  • David MacCarthy is quite inspired by the characters, considering himself to be a bit “Talbotless”
  • This is a short funny novel which is a must for aspiring writers

The Torrents of Spring is Ernest Hemingway's first novel, and an existential parody of the modernist writer. The simplistic style, Hemingway's defense against the critics who had begun to assail the modernist movement as "too over-written", was a success.

The Torrents of Spring contains many offbeat qualities and, in its own way, displays the beginnings of Hemingway's unique style. His voice is clear and direct. Many laughs are had as the writer parodies himself and the literary scene and style in general.

11. To Have and Have Not

Our rating: 6 / 10


To Have and Have Not

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Pros:

  • Fast-paced
  • The book is funny

Cons:

  • Not well-written

The book is fun to read, but it’s not well written, has a weak plot, and has a predictable ending.

12. Collected Stories

Our rating: 6 / 10


Collected Stories

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Pros:

  • Excellent Storytelling
  • Unforgettable Reads

Cons:

  • A Bit Old School

Here is a collection of hard-to-find stories and vignettes that Hemingway wrote in his lifetime. It provides an excellent insight into Hemingway’s life and struggles. The pieces have been abridged from their original-sized books to fit into this collection.

Some of the stories include “The Killers,” “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” “The Capital of the World,” “A Way you’ll Never Be,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” and many others.

These are my all-time favorite stories. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them as well. Hemingway is a fantastic author, and these stories will help you in learning how to write your own stories.

13. The Essential Hemingway

Our rating: 6 / 10

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Pros:

  • Huge collection of short stories
  • Easy to read and understand
  • Wide variety of stories

The Best of Ernest Hemingway

First published more than half a century ago, Hemingway’s The Essential Hemingway contains all the short fiction Ernest Hemingway is known for and is still read today.

As the title suggests, this book is the perfect introduction to Hemingway for new readers. It has short stories from The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and other novels.

14. The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Hemingway Library Collector's Edition

Our rating: 6 / 10


The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Hemingway Library Collector's Edition

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Pros:

  • Very easy to read
  • Fun stories
  • Great ideas and tips
  • Fun to read
  • Inspirational
  • Great for one time entertainment
  • Great for ages to read
  • Highly recommend to anyone
  • Easy to understand
  • Easy to read in one sitting

Cons:

  • Somewhat short stories
  • Some stories are not in order
  • It needs more content
  • It’s not for people who don’t like reading
  • Easy to read cliff notes

The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Hemingway Library Collector's Edition contains books that were written after the retirement of Ernest Hemingway. These books after his retirement are mostly a collection of stories and essays that he had published in different magazines.

This is a great book for everyone. I recommend it as a guide for writers, as well as a basic study on the way that Ernest Hemingway placed the words in his books to make them entertaining for anyone to read. This book will help any English student to better understand the writing style of Ernest Hemingway and learn how he influenced an entire generation of writers.

15. Men Without Women

Our rating: 6 / 10


Men Without Women

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Pros:

  • Book is brilliantly structured
  • Subdued, restrained prose
  • Striking chapter stand-outs
  • Remains underrated masterpiece

Cons:

  • Literary critics might say its unfair to include it in an anthology.

Men Without Women is a collection of short stories written by Ernest Hemingway. He wrote this collection of short stories in 1929, in which he described the lives of men. These man don't have wives, girlfriends, or even friends. Instead, they live isolated lives, tortured by war, accidents, and bad luck.

These are their stories about the pains of being human. The entire book is brief, novellas might have got longer story lines but these stories are all compacted into a few pages.

16. Complete Poems

Our rating: 6 / 10


Complete Poems

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Pros:

  • World-renowned author
  • Beautifully designed poems
  • Easy read

The Finca Vigia Edition

Ernest Hemingway's works are known around the world among readers of literary fiction. His writing style has become iconic.

This collection of his poems, which consists of more than 100 works, is a great way to get to know the man behind the novels if you are a collector of his works. When put together, these poems show a unique side of the writer, one that many don't know about.

17. The Fifth Column and Four Stories of The Spanish Civil War

Our rating: 6 / 10


The Fifth Column and Four Stories of The Spanish Civil War

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Pros:

  • Everybody Wants Full Digital Access
  • Best Sellers in Literature
  • User-Friendly Table of Contents in Kindle Format
  • The Kindle Book is Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Print Versions Offered By Amazon
  • Some Users Complain About Quality of Kindle Format

Our rating: 6 / 10


The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories

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Pros:

  • Offers short stories and essays
  • Starting with the classic short story The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Hemingway’s pieces navigate a wide and diverse range of styles

Hemingway is one of the masters of short story writing, and in particular, the short story form is short and sweet. When you are not looking for an in-depth experience, the short story is a perfect bet.

The stories in this volume are not Hemingway’s best, but they offer a wide and diverse range of styles, as well as themes, giving you plenty of reading material.

19. Ernest Hemingway on Writing

Our rating: 6 / 10


Ernest Hemingway on Writing

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Best-selling author Ernest Hemingway is one of America’s most important literary figures. Hemingway was born in Oak Park, IL in 1899 to parents Dr. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway and Grace Hall-Hemingway.

Dr. Hemingway had many jobs in his life, including that of a surgeon. When the doctor retired, his son Ernest went to live with him in Michigan. However, his parents divorced when he was 16 years old.

Hemingway’s own father banished him from the house, and he dropped out of high school. He eventually found his way to Chicago, where he spent much of his time at the south side public library.

20. The Sun Also Rises: The Hemingway Library Edition

Our rating: 6 / 10


The Sun Also Rises: The Hemingway Library Edition

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Pros:

  • The Hemingway Library Edition
  • The original text
  • An introduction by David McCullough
  • An essay by Gay Talese
  • A detailed index and selected bibliography
  • A chronology of Hemingway’s life
  • A Hemingway family tree
  • A world chronology of events during Ernest’s lifetime

Cons:

  • The text is small
  • Glossary of Parisian terms
  • The Green Hills of Africa is missing

The Hemingway Library Edition is a boxed set edition of three of Hemingway’s most popular novels. This set includes The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

This new edition is printed in the United States on acid-free, paper of the highest quality. Enjoy six original short stories in the back of this novel. The product will prove an asset to your library and a special reading experience for many years to come.

21. On Paris

Our rating: 6 / 10


On Paris

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Pros:

  • Offers a glimpse into Ernest Hemingway’s writing style
  • Provides insight into Paris and its people
  • Grabs your attention quickly
  • A quick read

Cons:

  • Some chapters were boring/repetitive
  • Relies on local Parisian knowledge to make the travel advice more appealing

The book On Paris by Ernest Hemingway is a beautifully written memoir that takes you around the city of Paris. Ernest lived in Paris from 1921 to 1928. Hemingway explores and explains every mood and situation as best he can through his eyes.

I have not been to Paris yet, but I did enjoy the book very much, and it sparked my interest about the city. I found the beginning of the book quite boring and repetitive, but towards the middle, it picks up speed and makes it an easy-to-follow, interesting read.

22. Hemingway on Fishing

Our rating: 6 / 10


Hemingway on Fishing

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If you're an angler, you need Ernest Hemingway's timeless advice on the fishing craft, from tackle to technique, from catching to cooking & eating, with perfect praise to read before, during, and after any big catch.

Included are Ernest's rules for necking" (a fishing term for fast pace, quick releases), legends on leaders, spinning, cribbing, weather, a marlin joke, & more.

This pocket-sized compendium is a must-have for any adventurous fisherman–or girl–in your life.

23. True At First Light: A Fictional Memoir

Our rating: 6 / 10


True At First Light: A Fictional Memoir

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Pros:

  • Gives an insight on Ernest Hemingway
  • Explores the author's last experiences in Africa
  • Reveals his life's struggle before death
  • Celebrates his literary legacy as one of the greatest American writers

Cons:

  • The storytelling is not as compelling as his other works
  • It drags a bit in certain parts as a result of the author's late attempts to finish it

True at First Light is a fictional memoir by the American writer Ernest Hemingway. In 1978, the book was posthumously published under Hemingway's pen name of "Papa" which he used in his travels across Africa and the north of Italy during the 1940s.

The book is a direct result of this last period of his life during which he also started to suffer of vascular episodes that resulted in his physical decline. The story is told during an imaginary conversation between the author and a friend about his trips to Tanzania to hunt and the way they affected his life. It is also a social commentary on the end of the colonial era of Africa.

24. Three Stories and Ten Poems

Our rating: 5 / 10

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Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Presents a great way to discover Hemingway

This collection is exactly what it says it is: three stories, and ten poems. It is a great introduction to Ernest Hemingway’s writing style if you have never read any other work by him, and it is a good read if you already know of his fame and are looking to round out your collection with some lesser-known work.

The stories included in this collection are:

  • Ten Indians
  • An Alpine Idyll
  • The Battler
  • A Pursuit Race and a Point of Honor
  • The Undefeated
  • A Natural History of the Dead
  • On the Blue Water
  • The Sea Change
  • The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
  • The First Forty-Nine Stories (a.k.a. The First Forty-Nine

25. Across The River And Into The Trees

Our rating: 5 / 10


Across The River And Into The Trees

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The novel follows the disillusionment and decline of an aging American expatriate who served as a military adviser to the Italian army during World War II. The protagonist, Lt. Colonel Richard Cantwell, suffers a potentially mortal wound. While being transported to the hospital he experiences flashbacks, which form the bulk of the novel, and in fact describe the main action.

Richards more senior colleague, Gen. Philip Davenport, is the general who has been advocating the surrender of the Italian ground forces to the Allied command. The novel explores the last days and moral decline of Cantwell, whose anti-Communist and pro-militarist views are juxtaposed against the actions of World War II's real-life military commanders.

26. Winner Take Nothing

Our rating: 5 / 10

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Pros:

  • Set in Paris and Spain
  • Gives a great overview of the author

Cons:

  • Only available in hardcover

This collection of short stories was first published in 1963. It's divided into three parts: The Moveable Feast, Men Without Women, and Under Kilimanjaro.

This is a compilation of stories based on Ernest Hemingway's experiences living in the Left Bank region of Paris during the 1920-30's. In the first section, Ernest takes you back to Spain where he spent his summers while growing up. He writes in the third-person, which makes for an even number of stories.

There are twelve stories in this section of the book. They touch upon experiences as a fisherman, bullfighting, fiesta, refugees, and street performers. In the second section, it opens with Hemingway recounting his adventures during the Great War. He made a promise to himself when he was laid up in a hospital that he would fill his days with adventure and do whatever he wanted once he was free of his injuries.

27. Hemingway on War

Our rating: 5 / 10


Hemingway on War

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I came to this book as a fan of Ernest Hemingway, both as a man and as an author. How I wonder did Hemingway, who was so good at fiction, so adept at managing the craft of storytelling, turn to writing about warfare?

I say this without knowing anything about Hemingway's own history with violence and warfare. It's not as though he was a soldier or a war correspondent. He comes to the subject of war as a man who's spent many years trying to work out how to be a writer, how to make his own singular trade pay for itself.

And that's what this book is about: not the violence of war, or the legacy of war, but the crafting of Hemingway's fiction and, I don't say this lightly, the art of storytelling.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is considered Ernest Hemingway's best book?

Ernest Hemingway wrote an incredible number of books over the course of his lifetime. It’s likely you have read Hemingway or at least heard his name. His writing career spanned over 20 years, which is why it’s no surprise that he has so many works to his name. In his time he wrote novels, short stories, nonfiction writing, and more. His most widely known works are A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, and The Old Man and the Sea. A lot of his career was spent in Paris, where he became increasingly important to the literary world and his works took on an international focus.

Do you want to know which one of Hemingway’s works is considered his best? Then read on to find out.

What are Ernest Hemingway most famous works?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1953, Hemingway’s novella The Old Man and the Sea is considered one of his most popular and enduring works. The short novel follows Santiago, an aging fisherman with nothing to show for his life but the one great fish story that almost got away from him. Santiago’s story is the ultimate tale of perseverance and resolved to finish what one starts.

What are 10 books you must read?

~This is an incredibly difficult question to answer because there is no perfect list. Books that I absolutely love are not necessarily the same ones that you will enjoy. In some cases, it almost seems as though “favorite books” changes based on my mood or what I’ve recently read.

That being said, my top 10 book list is not that different from most of the lists on my website. These are in no particular order, but are definitely 10 books (and perhaps a few short stories) that everyone should read at some point in their life.

  1. The Bible (either New or Old Testaments)
  2. 1984 by George Orwell
  3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  4. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  5. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

What was the last book Ernest Hemingway wrote?

While Hemingway passed on in July of 1961, he was very prolific. He wrote many novels and short stories that were critically acclaimed as well as many non-fiction works. Many of the books you mention are deeply entrenched into his legacy, including the Old Man and the Sea, A Moveable Feast, and A Farewell to Arms. Often included in top 100 books list including the New York Times Best Seller list, The Old Man and the Sea is considered by many to be Hemingway’s best novel.

While Hemingway is often recognized as an avid hunter, fisherman, and sportsman, he also wrote extensively about the Spanish Civil War as a war correspondent. He also wrote about bullfighting, personal experiences in war, being an expatriate in France and Spain, and other works that were not about hunting.

Conclusion

One of the most famous American novelist, journalist, and short-story writer of the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway is also one of the greatest writers of all time. There is a range of 10 amazing books by Hemingway for you to pick up, and we hope that this guide will assist your selection. Take a look!

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Hemingway on HuntingBest Overall
Hemingway on Hunting
The Fifth Column and the First Forty-nine StoriesBudget Pick
The Fifth Column and the First Forty-nine Stories
88 PoemsUpgrade Pick
88 Poems