18 (Free) Books Ernest Hemingway Wished He Could Read Again for the First Time

hemingway list free

In the 1930s, Ernest Hem­ing­way wrote a series of short pieces for Esquire mag­a­zine called the “Key West Let­ters.” One of those pieces, the 1935 “Remem­ber­ing Shoot­ing-Fly­ing” has an inter­est­ing premise—Hemingway claims that remem­ber­ing and writ­ing about shoot­ing are more plea­sur­able than shoot­ing itself. Or at least that he’d rather remem­ber shoot­ing pheas­ant than actu­al­ly shoot clay pigeons. In the next para­graph, this nos­tal­gia for good shoot­ing gets tied up with good books, such that the essay betrays its true desire—to be a med­i­ta­tion on read­ing. Before he catch­es him­self and gets back on top­ic, Hem­ing­way launch­es into a long par­en­thet­i­cal:

I would rather read again for the first time Anna Karen­i­na, Far Away and Long Ago, Bud­den­brooks, Wuther­ing Heights, Madame Bovary, War and Peace, A Sportsman’s Sketch­es, The Broth­ers Kara­ma­zov, Hail and Farewell, Huck­le­ber­ry Finn, Wines­burg, Ohio, La Reine Mar­got, La Mai­son Tel­li­er, Le Rouge et le Noire, La Char­treuse de Parme, Dublin­ers, Yeat’s Auto­bi­ogra­phies and a few oth­ers than have an assured income of a mil­lion dol­lars a year.

Is this hyper­bole? Lit­er­ary blus­ter? The gen­uine desire to encounter again “for the first time” the lit­er­a­ture that trans­formed and widened his world? Maybe all of the above. Bet­ter to stay home and remem­ber the greats—write about them and hope for a time when they’re new again—than to fill one’s time with mediocre and for­get­table books. At least that seems to be his argu­ment. And while I’m sure you have your own lists (feel free to add them to the com­ments sec­tion below!), some of you may wish to take a shot at Hemingway’s and savor those works that for him over­shad­owed near­ly every oth­er.

To that end, we’ve com­piled a list of the books he names, with links to online texts and audio, where avail­able. Enjoy them for the first time, or read (and lis­ten) to them once again. And remem­ber that the texts are per­ma­nent­ly housed in our col­lec­tions of Free Book Audio Books and Free eBooks.

Anna Karen­i­na by Leo Tol­stoy (eBookAudio Book)

Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hud­son (eBookAudio Book)

Bud­den­brooks by Thomas Mann (eBook)

Wuther­ing Heights by Emi­ly Bron­të (eBookAudio Book)

Madame Bovary by Gus­tave Flaubert (eBookAudio Book)

War and Peace by Leo Tol­stoy (eBookAudio Book)

A Sportsman’s Sketch­es by Ivan Tur­genev (eBook)

The Broth­ers Kara­ma­zov by Fyo­dor Dos­to­evsky (eBookAudio Book)

Hail and Farewell by George Moore (eBook)

Adven­tures of Huck­le­ber­ry Finn by Mark Twain (eBookAudio Book)

Wines­burg, Ohio by Sher­wood Ander­son (eBookAudio)

Queen Mar­got by Alexan­dre Dumas (eBook)

La Mai­son Tel­li­er by Guy de Mau­pas­sant (eBook)

The Red and the Black by Stend­hal (eBookAudio Book)

La Char­treuse de Parme by Stend­hal (eBook)

Dublin­ers by James Joyce (eBookAudio Book)

Rever­ies over Child­hood and Youth by William But­ler Yeats (eBook)

The Trem­bling of the Veil by William But­ler Yeats (eBook)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ernest Hem­ing­way Cre­ates a Read­ing List for a Young Writer, 1934

Ernest Hem­ing­way Writes of His Fas­cist Friend Ezra Pound: “He Deserves Pun­ish­ment and Dis­grace” (1943)

Ernest Hem­ing­way to F. Scott Fitzger­ald: “Kiss My Ass”

Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intel­li­gent Per­son Should Read

via Lists of Note

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (25)
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  • M.R. Stringer says:

    He pre­ferred remem­ber­ing shoot­ing live birds to actu­al­ly shoot­ing pre­tend ones. Way to go, macho macho man.

    • L_Dave says:

      you’re a woman

      • mike and carla odonnell says:

        no,he’s a real man!nreal men,do not need to kill!

        • L_Dave says:

          Men who eat meat are either killing it them­selves, or mere­ly pay­ing some­one else to kill it for them. What’s the dif­fer­ence?

          • mike and carla odonnell says:

            we pre­fer to not to eat meat because there is much pro­tein that you can eat and drink with­out eat­ing meat.

          • L_Dave says:

            Good on ya. Remem­ber that farm­ers rely upon hunters to keep deer and oth­er ani­mals from eat­ing your food.

          • mike and carla odonnell says:

            the plan­et has been breed­ing too much, peo­ple more than the animals.it’s a shame there are too many peo­ple that are irre­spon­si­ble hav­ing children.nthe Gov­ern­ment should stop pay­ing them to have them(food stamps, free rent,free medical)nNuts!nthe ones who real­ly want chil­dren should adopt instead now that we are filled to capac­i­ty with peo­ple. nadop­tion is the bet­ter route now.nthat need to ‘have their own’ is in my opin­ion self­ish with so many hun­gry chil­dren look­ing for a mom and dad to love them.nhow to grow your own,how to sur­vive on your own,without help from gov­ern­ment is a great thing also.ni do have high respect for the farmers.nthey work so very hard.nthank good­ness for the ACPCA and oth­er active res­cue oper­a­tions to have the ani­mals fixed and have them adopt­ed out,or put back ‚not be able to breed again.nhmmmm,people next,lolnkidding

          • L_Dave says:

            Too many peo­ple eh? You know what they say — start with the man in the mir­ror.

          • mike and carla odonnell says:

            your so right!nni want to say,i nev­er asked to be here,but.…too late,lolnjokes on me!

          • mike and carla odonnell says:

            sor­ry, i for­got to say/write, that i do sup­port the NRA.ni just am not com­fort­able killing unless to defend myself.nthen,killing comes easy.especially in a home break-in.ni am a proud firearm owner!n

  • Jesse Hemingway says:

    nobody wants to re-read Joyce.

    • Fringematters says:

      I enjoyed re-read­ing Joyce! Most­ly because sec­ond time around I did­n’t need lec­ture notes or a read­ing ‘com­pan­ion’ to guide me — akin to cycling with­out sta­bilis­ers!

  • Don Quijote says:

    some of them books were also in the list he gave to the young writer. Does it mean these were prob­a­bly the only books Hem­ing­way did read?

  • Sandhya Rao says:

    The audio ver­sion link for Broth­ers Kara­ma­zov does not work

  • AB says:

    Sor­ry com­ments thus far, although I would agree with Jesse, on Joyce. I think it impos­si­ble to deter­mine exact­ly what a per­son meant when they said or wrote some­thing, and after the fact, I near­ly always ques­tion if they know ful­ly them­self since there is an abun­dance of evi­dence that clear­ly shows that orig­i­nal thought is mod­i­fied increas­ing­ly the more it is asked to be explained. (We’re talk­ing about sto­ries, words. Math and sci­ence have rules that are stricter). It leaves the door propped open though. Peo­ple poke their head in and often offer ideas that I had not con­sid­ered. Not so much yet on this top­ic, but one can be hope­ful. Was it Hemingway’s sense of mar­ket­ing, a skill
    thought to be required in the mod­ern day, but unac­cept­able with any­one con­sid­ered ‘clas­sic?’

    I read in his list two things: an under­stand­ing that the search is often greater than the find, and knowl­edge of great sto­ries that took him from where he was at when he
    read them (although there were 5 I am not famil­iar with, but down­loaded thanks to this won­der­ful web­site). To me this
    is clear, like why a Fri­day is often bet­ter than the week­end it is hap­py about, or how Dos­toyevsky helps me to under­stand Rus­sia despite hav­ing not vis­it­ed that coun­try. Is this not why read­ing is so impor­tant? The chance is there to dis­cov­er, or escape. Is writ­ing not at least its lov­ing old­er sis­ter, the writer telling a sto­ry they would like in such a man­ner that the read­er is intrigued to know as well.

    Hav­ing lived in Durham, N.C. for a few years, like the writer of this piece, I thought to com­ment and add a few names that Hem­ing­way would not have known in his day yet I feel the same way about, although I have lit­tle care whether any­one else real­ly likes them or not. This is the
    good thing about not yet being “named” a clas­sic, although each of these authors have sev­er­al that are that. In
    10 sec­onds of thought, a short list forms, some­thing by: John Le Carre, Mark Hel­prin, Bar­bara King­solver, increas­ing­ly, and Cor­mac McCarthy.

  • tan says:

    Any­one know how to trans­fer these books in a for­mat for use on the iPad?

  • Fiftyfootelvis says:

    How the Hell did a dis­cus­sion of great works of lit­er­a­ture descend into a pet­ty argue­ment between veg­e­tar­i­ans and meat eaters?

  • Drew says:


  • Paul Ottaviano says:

    I am right there with you guy!!!!!! But on sec­ond thought it could part of the con­ver­sa­tion, in a healthy and intel­li­gent man­ner.

  • sludgehound says:

    Read many of those. No desire to reload. Maybe Con­fed­er­a­cy of Dunces post Hem worth a reread. More of a Silence of the Lambs, The Man From Saint Peters­burg fan. Need plot more than navel graz­ing. Thanks for piece.

  • Martha Austin says:

    My list: To read again — for the first time–“War and Peace”; “Leviathan” and“Talk to Me Ten­der­ly, Tell Me Lies” (John Gor­don Davis); “East of Eden” (Steinbeck);“The Song of Roland”: and “Dis­obe­di­ence” (James James Mor­ri­son Mor­ri­son Weath­er­by George Dupree) A.A. Milne.… Wait­ing eager­ly for more Daniel Sil­va.

  • anant says:

    What a fas­ci­nat­ing insight into Hem­ing­way’s lit­er­ary tastes! Thank you for shar­ing this list and pro­vid­ing links to these time­less clas­sics. It’s always a plea­sure to revis­it these works or dis­cov­er them for the first time.

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