The Old Man & the Sea by Ernest Hemingway + Mary, Queen of Scots

So this post is a weird one because it includes two books. (I’d consider this term used loosely because Mary, Queen of Scots is not really a novel.) In my time in Denver, I sat in the original Tattered Cover bookstore and read my way through both of this pieces so I think it’s only appropriate for them to share a post.

I’ll start with the latter: Mary, Queen of Scots, which has no adequately listed author. This very brief work of historical non-fiction is something I wouldn’t have read for any other reason except to kill time. Truthfully, I debated writing about it at all but then figured ‘why not’. I’ll keep it short though.

I don’t consider it a waste of my time for having read. However, it’s not a work I’d recommend. There’s a fair number of typos and it was very much written for someone at a children’s reading level — though some the details of Mary’s life is not exactly PG. If you’re passionate about commonwealth history, then maybe you’d find it interesting enough but honestly, you could probably just read the same information on Wikipedia.

The Old Man and the Sea, though. That’s a much more interesting story but I feel that my opinion of this story is relative. You’ve probably heard of it but it’s one of those classics that some people really love and most people have never read. I somehow managed to graduate high school without ever being required to read it — somehow. I only decided to read it this day when I figured I could finish it in the bookstore and still have time to look for another book after.

It’s not a bad book really. I only say that because of the grace of Hemingway’s composition. It’s easy to read and well written but, to me, the story is incredibly unsatisfying. If you don’t have a serious passion for fishing or weirdly incorporated Spanish, it’s probably not worth your time. I’d equate it to a smaller, less technical edition of Moby Dick — perhaps with better prose.

My apologies to all those that that opinion offends. Especially yo every teacher of English literature I’ve ever had whose lessons on symbolism and narrative I have assumedly failed to grasp. Like I said, it’s not a bad book; it’s just not one that I would recommend… ever.

Have you ever read a book that you really wanted to like but just didn’t? Let me know in the comments below or through your preferred media (always @hollyandoates)!





  1. Nice reviews, and agreed about The Old Man and the Sea! Hemingway’s always struck me as overrated, and I remember this novel as being tedious, in spite of it short length. His short stories are slightly better, in that they don’t take as long to read, but his style is so dry.


    1. He’s definitely one of those authors that you read because you’re told you have to. I think his stories have a weird beauty to them but I agree, they are pretty dry and tedious to read.


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