2016 Reading list #47: Green Hills of Africa, by Ernest Hemingway

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately, though I’m getting plenty of reading done. I’ve just been caught at an odd time when, every time I finish a book, I stare blankly at my shelf, unsure what to read next.

Green Hills of Africa wasn’t really on my original reading list for the year, though reading something by Ernest Hemingway was. I’d planned on working through Hemingway’s complete collection of short stories, but, after the first 200 pages, I watched the book sit unopened, so I’ve reshelved for a later time (though I have read somewhere in the realm of 30 of his stories, so I know I’ll happily return to it when the time is right).

Green Hills of Africa was one of the shorter selections on my shelf that also meant I would be accomplishing one of my 2016 goals of reading a work for a few select authors. After falling in love with Hemingway and Faulkner in a lit class four years (!) ago, I’ve tried my best to read something new by each of them every year.

This wasn’t my favorite of Hemingway’s works, but that’s mostly because I don’t care about hunting. This is all about hunting. It’s not a bad book at all, it’s just a book that doesn’t quite align with my personal interests.

Hemingway even says in a very short forward to the book that this is his attempt at seeing if a book without plot or romance can still be true and interesting to readers, and I think he accomplishes that. Near the book’s conclusion, he has a few beautiful pages about the majesty of the earth and how people corrupt its beauty. His appreciation for nature is at a serious high in this book.

He also refers to a hunting guide who’s overly expressive and annoying as “Theater Business” and speaks of himself as having the “evening braggies” after whiskey makes him overconfident, both of which are tidbits I enjoy tremendously.

If you can forgive Hemingway’s casual racism and whiteness here and there (he was writing in the 1930s, after all), Green Hills of Africa is a pretty pleasant read. Maybe not my favorite, but it’s hard to go too wrong with Papa.

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