Category Archives: Classic Books to Read

Hemingway’s Advice to Writers: Part 2

Quote of the Day: “For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.” Ernest Hemingway

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Part 2: Hemingway’s Advice to Writers

As promised, today’s topic is part two of Hemingway’s advice to authors provided to Samuelson, a journalist and aspiring author at the time. His book is titled, Arnold Samuelson, With Hemingway, A Year in Key West and Cuba.

Note: The book was published after the author’s death in 1981. You may have seen the movie, if not watch it. The book is available in hard copy from Amazon and at most libraries.

We’re looking at the novels Ernest Hemingway considered the “good stuff” in literature. Although, not handwritten as the list below, in conversation with Samuelson, he said, “the best book an American ever wrote,” the one that “marks the beginning of American literature” – “Mark Twain Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Hemingway’s “Good Stuff”

In looking over the book list, I’m reminded of another quote by Hemingway about studying authors considered the best after their death for that was the true sign of greatness for their work had endured. In doing so, Hemingway’s novels should be added to the list of good stuff for today’s reading.

In his own words…

“Here’s a list of books any writer should have read as a part of his education… If you haven’t read these, you just aren’t educated. They represent different types of writing. Some may bore you; others might inspire you and others are so beautifully written they’ll make you feel it’s hopeless for you to try to write.”

Note: You’ll find most of these at your public library.

  1. The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane
  2. The Open Boat by Stephen Crane
  3. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  4. Dubliners by James Joyce
  5. The Red and Black by Stendhal
  6. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset
  7. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  8. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  9. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
  10. Hail and Farewell by George Moore
  11. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  12. The Oxford Book of English Verse
  13. The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings
  14. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  15. Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson
  16. The American by Henry James

Following Hemingway’s method of studying the writing of great authors whose works have stood the test of time, what author and books would you add to the list?

Here are a few of my favorites. Comment below with your must-reads of classic novels.

  • The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
  • The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Catcher and the Rye – J. D. Salinger
  • James Bond Spy Series – Ian Fleming
  • Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
  • Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
  • The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck 
  •  In Cold Blood – Truman Capote   

Note: If you missed Hemingway’s Advice to Writer’s Part One, read here.

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