Ever wished you could ask your favorite author for some good titles to read? How about someone as legendary as Ernest Hemingway? A young writer managed to muster up the courage to do so in the spring of 1934, and thankfully, the reading list survived!
When then 22-year-old aspiring writer Arnold Samuelson hitchhicked to Florida to meet his idol, the esteemed Ernest Hemingway, he probably did not expect that he would be given some sound writing advice and a bonus reading list.
“I read your story ‘One Trip Across’ in Cosmopolitan,” Samuelson told Hemingway following an awkward moment. “I liked it so much I came down to have a talk with you.” The author was busy that afternoon, but he invited the young man to come back at one-thirty in the afternoon the next day.
Finally, on the afternoon of their meeting, they began by discussing the Cosmopolitan story, after which Samuelson shared his failed attempts at fiction writing. Hemingway responded with some helpful advice — among them was the tip that the young writer should avoid his contemporaries and only “compete” with the writers who passed away yet whose works have already stood the test of time. When asked if he had already read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Samuelson said he had not — and by some interesting twist, it turned out to be the right answer.
“That’s a damned good book. You ought to read it. We’ll go up to my workshop and I’ll make out a list you ought to read,” Hemingway said. I think that’s every bibliophile and Hemingway fan’s dream come true.
Now, here’s Ernest Hemingway’s reading list for the lucky Arnold Samuelson:
The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane
The Open Boat by Stephen Crane
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Dubliners by James Joyce
The Red and the Black by Stendhal
Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
Hail and Farewell by George Moore
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Oxford Book of English Verse
The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson
The American by Henry James
Still curious about Arnold Samuelson’s fortunate meeting with Ernest Hemingway? I highly suggest that you head over to the full story at Open Culture, there’s still a lot more interesting details I’m sure you’d enjoy reading!