Short stories were once very popular among readers but have sadly become less popular over the years. However, short stories are now more important than ever! Short stories showcase the talent of writers as they vividly describe people, places, and plots in less than 100 pages! They provide the perfect opportunity for readers interested in an engaging story but may not have the time to start a long novel. Short stories can be read in a day and allow readers to enjoy a new story each day! Across genres and times, there is a short story for every reader and their interests!
Below are 5 short story recommendations for you!
1. “White Nights” by Fyodor Dostoevsky
“White Nights” by Fyodor Dostoevsky is a Russian story about a disillusioned young man who meets and falls in love with a young woman one night while on a walk. The young man meets the heartbroken young woman and, after talking with her, learns of her heartache. This is a story of love and life. The English translation by David Magarshack is beautiful and haunting as readers delve into the inner psyche of the young man. Magarshack’s translation of Dostoevsky’s quotes are beautiful and emotional. The thoughts and emotions of the young man and young woman are still relatable and impactful nearly 200 years after the story was first published. Heartbreaking and full of raw emotion about life and love, “White Nights” will stay with you long after you’ve finished the last page.
2. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
I first read “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson when I was in middle school. When I say that the ending of this short story will truly shock you, I am not exaggerating! Without spoiling the ending, I will say that this short story is one that is deeply disturbing and mind bending. When Jackson first published the story, readers reacted very negatively to the point where Jackson was receiving hate mail about her short story every day. “The Lottery” is a critical commentary on scapegoating, mob mentality, and blind tradition.
3. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin is a short story with strong feminist themes. Written in 1894, the story was very controversial regarding its commentary about women’s roles in society and marriage. I read this story in my high school English class. I distinctly remember my teacher’s lesson regarding the symbolism of names and objects in the story. My teacher discussed the symbolism of how the two female characters, Louise and Josephine, had names that were based in traditionally male names: Louis and Joseph. This further solidified Chopin’s discussion of women’s roles in society and how women’s identities were so intertwined with their husband’s. The symbolism of the door and the window in the story is also very impactful.
4. “The Lady, or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton
“The Lady, or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton is one of those short stories that are mind blowing. Long after finishing the story, you will be debating the final lines. I first read Stockton’s story almost 10 years ago and I still find myself questioning the ending. This story will have you analyzing the main character’s motivations and personality when they are faced with an important decision. “The Lady, or the Tiger?” is a great introduction for readers who are interested in critically analyzing a story in addition to wanting to read an intriguing tale.
5. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving is a classic American short story. Many students are required to read this short story in school, however; do not let that put you off from delving into the story yourself. From colorful characters to engaging writing, Irving’s tale is well deserved of its place among American classic literature. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” can of course be read anytime throughout the year, however; there is something truly special about reading this story during the autumn as the air turns colder and the leaves turn red.
I have read all these short stories, some of them several years ago, and they have all impacted me. They impacted the way I read and analyze books to this day. They are all engaging and interesting. With a few of these titles, I still wonder about the ending. If you are interested in starting to read short stories, or are looking for short and engaging stories, I hope this list provides a great suggestion list for you. There are hundreds of short stories out there waiting for you to begin them!