Hemingway was a prolific writer. He wrote at least 25 books during his lifetime, and likely more. Upon his death, there were more than 322 unfinished works left for his family to go through, some of which have since been published. On this list, you’ll find ten of the best books that he wrote, all of which received varying degrees of positive and negative criticism during his life.
1. The Old Man and the Sea
The Old Man and the Sea is commonly cited as Hemingway’s best novel. It was written in Cuba in 1951 and then published the next year. It was the last major fiction writing that Hemingway published during his life. The story focuses on a short period in the life of a Cuban fisherman named Santiago. This endearing, poor, old man hooks and fights with an enormous fish for days before finally catching it. By the time he gets it back to shore it has been devoured by sharks leading him to regret the entire endeavor. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953.
2. A Farewell to Arms
This novel is set during the Italian campaign of World War I. It is a first-person story, told from the perspective of Frederic Henry. It describes the love affair between Henry and an English nurse named Catherine Barkley. This novel is often considered to be the success that soldier Hemingway’s place in the annals of American literary history.
3. For Whom the Bell Tolls
For Whom the Bell Tolls was published in 1940. It tells the story of the life of Robert Jordan an American who gets involved in the Spanish Civil War. He works as a dynamiter and is tasked with blowing up a bridge. The title comes from a John Donne poem which Hemingway quotes in the epigraph.
4. The Sun Also Rises
This very popular novel describes the travels of American and British expatriates who travel to the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona. There, they watch the running the bulls. By some, this book is Hemingway’s great work even though it received less than stellar reviews when it came out. Hemingway was inspired to write this book after he took a trip to Spain in 1925.
5. A Moveable Feast
Hemingway’s memoir, A Moveable Feast, was published in 1964. It tells of the years he spent as a journalist and writer in Paris in the 20s. In it, a reader can find references to a variety of famous figures and an account of Hemingway’s marriage to Hadley Richardson.
6. Complete Short Stories
Although not a novel, this collection of Hemingway’s short stories deserves to be on this list. In it, readers will find all of his best short fiction works including “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and “Hills Like White Elephants”.
7. To Have and Have Not
This novel tells the story of Harry Morgan, a fisherman from Key West, Florida. this ordinary working man gets forced into the black market goods trade. He runs contraband between Cuba and Florida but things only end up getting worse for him as he decides to swindle Chinese immigrants and gets involved in a murder.
8. Islands in the Stream
This novel was published posthumously in 1970. It was among the 332 finished and unfinished works that Hemingway left behind when he died. The book follows Thomas Hudson through stages of his life. It is made up of three stories or acts that were retiled as “Bimini,” “Cuba,” and “At Sea”.
9. Death in the Afternoon
This is one of Hemingway’s non-fiction works. It describes the traditions of bullfighting in Spain, something that the writer observed personally. The book looks at the history of the sport as well as explore the elements of fear and courage that are involved.
10. Green Hills of Africa
Green Hills of Africa is another non-fiction book, Hemingway’s second. In it, he describes a month he spent on safari in Africa with his wife, Pauline. It is separated out into four parts, each of which has a different baring on the story. He speaks about the time he spent hunting, meditates on the impact of various authors, and spends time talking about the landscape.