The Old Man and the Sea

By Ernest Hemingway,

Book cover of The Old Man and the Sea

Book description

This powerful and dignified story about a Cuban fisherman's struggle with a great fish has the universal appeal of a struggle between man and the elements, the hunter with the hunted. It earned Hemingway the Nobel prize and has been made into an acclaimed film. Age 13+

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Why read it?

9 authors picked The Old Man and the Sea as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I’ve read all of Ernest Hemingway’s books and although it is many years ago since I read The Old Man of the Sea (when I was a young man of the sea). One man alone in a boat on the wide ocean appeals to me as I have been in that situation myself on several occasions. My boat, a 28-foot motor/sailer, berthed in Fleetwood was my refuge from a troubled world. As a fire officer, I may have been involved with a motorway pile-up, cutting casualties out of wrecked vehicles, or a tragic house fire or simply dealing with bolshie…

Well, as someone who likes unpredictability, I couldn’t resist throwing in a curveball selection. Bret Easton Ellis’ brilliant American Psycho was going to go here, but perhaps that was expected. So allow me to confound expectations a little if you please. While Hemingway is no genre buster, for fans of the use of simple language like yours truly, Hemingway’s the one to read. I remember this book sitting on the shelves at my parent's home as a kid and first reading it in my teens. I’m pretty sure I didn’t appreciate then Hemingway’s craft, the beauty, and simplicity of his…

From Jon's list on genre-busting stories.

I am not sure what Mr. Hemingway would think of me including his novel in my list of motivational fiction, but The Old Man and the Sea can never be overlooked as classic literature as well as a life-changing tale. I’m convinced that the best way to learn or teach any concept is to tell a story, and there has never been a better storyteller than Ernest Hemingway. In his abrupt, minimalist style, Hemingway convinces readers that you can never catch anything you’re not willing to go after, and the big fish are only caught outside of our comfort zone.…

Of all the books I’ve read throughout my life, this one is my absolute favorite. Written in simple, yet descriptive and colorful prose, this book helped shape my own life voyages. As an avid fisherman, I related completely with the Old Man and his battle with the ‘mighty fish’; a huge marlin that he hooked and did his best to conquer. Ultimately, he did overcome the battle with the great fish, subduing it and tying it alongside his little fishing skiff (it was too massive to drag aboard), only to have the great fish ravaged and torn to shreds by…

From Doug's list on ocean adventures and life at sea.

Ernest Hemingway ties Cormac McCarthy as the two authors that have most significantly influenced me. His prose is beautiful while being sparse. He writes without pretense, and with his unique writing of internality his stories become authentic glimpses of character. He describes scenes vividly using few words by employing our own memory banks to the topic. He captures life so very well. This story is timeless and imagistic. I’ve read it many times and have many more reads in me. Hemingway, McCarthy, Marquez, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky, these are the writers that I consider my teachers—I hope my work is never…

This famous short story of Santiago, Manolin, and the marlin requires several readings. From the Cuban seaside village where Santiago and Manolin tend their gear and talk baseball to the cerulean blue waters of the Florida Straits where Santiago struggles with the marlin, so much is happening beneath the surface of Hemingway’s sentences. Having sailed these same waters with the Coast Guard, I have seen their majestic beauty and can understand why Hemingway choose them as the setting for arguably his greatest work. 

From Thomas' list on set in the Caribbean.

In this short novel, an old fisherman takes his boat out to sea, is swept away on the Gulf Stream, and catches an enormous marlin which he can bring back to port only by tying it to his boat. At this he fails. In a protracted battle, a relentless shark hits the marlin repeatedly and eats most of it. Throughout, the old man keeps fighting and never loses his faith in himself or his task. When he finally returns to port without a catch, he sleeps soundly, dreaming of baseball and the great Dimaggio. To me, this novel is an…

From Roger's list on romances in space opera.

Hemingway deliberately wrote Old Man to be a commercial success; to avenge a scathing critical review of a prior novel; to sell books; to make money. And on his way to more fame and fortune, Hemingway produced a 128-page masterpiece. The Old Man (Santiago) and the Sea (life) is about courage, toughness, grit, invincible hope. Never give up. Never rely on luck. Fight. There can be a success in failure (just ask Thomas Alva Edison). That Santiago idolized Joe DiMaggio, New York Yankee baseball Hall-of-Famer, is another reason to read and reread this magnificent story of struggle and dignity.

The Old Man and the Sea is a classic American literary work. Hemingway in evocative and precise language helps you to empathize with Santiago, the main character and life-long mariner, who struggles to capture a huge marlin off the coast of Cuba. Since Hemingway was a sportsman, he takes the time to recreate the sensorial experience of life at sea.

From Sharika's list on the maritime Caribbean.

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