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shrine to Papa

I’ve been working on this little project for a month or so now, and it’s finally ready for its photo shoot.

First of all, I have limited bookshelf space (I’m sure you’re shocked). When I read Paul Hendrickson’s Hemingway’s Boat recently, I enjoyed being immersed again in one of my favorite literary and historical figures. It had been a little while since I’d read any Hemingway (or anything about Hemingway), and it was like coming home: it was comforting and comfortable to return to a subject I know and love. It also inspired me to make some purchases.

First, I decided I wanted a smallish bookshelf to dedicate to the Hemingway theme. I thought maybe it could hold all my books by Hemingway, and about him, and also the works of his friend or those authors I’ve picked up directly because of a Hemingway connection (Stein, Fitzgerald, de Maupassant, Beryl Markham). I cleared it with Husband and he even agreed to come shopping with me. It took a little looking, but I ended up with this charming piece.


I was prepared to do some decorating…


I bought this print from the Hemingway House in Key West, and took a second shopping trip to find a beat-up real-wood frame for it. Again Hemingway’s Boat gets credit: I was taken by this picture in my reading of the book, which to my memory is the first time I had ever seen it. I like that it shows him in his non-writing leisure time, in pursuit of an activity he loved, and I like that he’s wearing his glasses in it, which he was not in the habit of always doing. Sorry it’s not a better picture of the picture…


And don’t laugh at me, but this is my own portrait of Papa, a copy of the famous Karsh portrait.


Top shelf, with antique fishing reel donated by Husband. (It’s not specifically accurate to Papa’s fishing, we don’t think, but it sets the mood, if you will.)


Bottom shelf, with four new purchases inspired by my reading of Hemingway’s Boat. They are the four on the right: memoirs of life with Hemingway by his son Gregory (Gigi), by Arnold Samuelson (“the Maestro”), by longtime friend A.E. Hotchner, and by Valerie Hemingway, Gregory’s ex-wife (who was originally a secretary or assistant to Papa). I have not read these books yet…

As you might see, I ran out of room for the friends, so Stein et al reside on the “regular” shelves again. And there’s not much room for the collection to grow, on my Hemingway shelves. But I’m very pleased with my end result: a special space that honors my favorite author on his own. As for growth, I suppose these shelves will begin to look like the rest of them, with books stacked in front of or on top of other books. It’s all organic.

Do you have a special space or special shelves reserved for a particular author, genre, subject, or other beloved group of books?

9 Responses

  1. You weren’t kidding when you said Hemingway was your favorite author. Very impressive collection, especially your awesome painting.

    I’m inspired to set up a special shelf area for Virginia Woolf or Graham Greene. :P

  2. I’m going to send you via email the coolest (in my opinion) portrait of Hemingway ever …

  3. [...] and that’s really saying something. I guess I should be on top of this concept, me with my Hemingway obsession, but I really wasn’t. I think I was too close to things. I’m a huge fan, first of his [...]

  4. [...] I think the last books I purchased were the four memoirs relating to Hemingway that I mentioned here. They were: Papa: A Personal Memoir by his son Gregory (Gigi), With Hemingway by Arnold Samuelson [...]

  5. [...] Dragons, as well as the copy of The Home-Maker that Thomas sent me a while back… or some of the Papa books I’ve been saving… oh, the TBR shelves overflow, the possibilities are endless! I honestly don’t know [...]

  6. [...] parents brought me this book as a gift from Paris, as a contribution to the shrine that I was then completing. I can’t remember, but I think they got it at Shakespeare & [...]

  7. [...] then there’s the other bearded man. I do have still a handful of Hemingway works on his little shelf that I haven’t read; and I have several biographies of him and other related fiction and [...]

  8. […] funny exercise. He piped up immediately with “Papa!” which was the easy one; we have a Hemingway shrine in the living room, and we’ve traveled together to Key West and visited the Hemingway House […]

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