Our Top 10 Must-Read Short Stories

Updated: Jan 29, 2019

Short story month is getting underway, and so we have gathered together ten of the best, ranging from nineteenth century macabre to wry Biblical humour. The following stories are all superb examples of their craft in a variety of styles and themes, and all of them have proven enduring to generations of readers.

'The Black Cat' by Edgar Allan Poe (1843)

A self-proclaimed pet lover becomes vicious towards a previously cherished cat, and his violence escalates to shocking levels. Read it for free here.

'The Yellow Wallpaper' by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)

'The Yellow Wallpaper' charts the descent of a young woman into psychosis, when she undertakes a rest cure for a "slight hysterical tendency". The story is in the public domain and can be read for free here. A fascinating article that extrapolates further on the theme of nineteenth century (and contemporary) femininity and patriarchy can be read here.

'Extracts from Adam's Diary' by Mark Twain (1906)

Brought to life by Twain's humour, long-suffering protagonist Adam is perplexed by the new creature "Eve" that has been foisted upon him. It can be read for free here.

'Hills Like White Elephants' by Ernest Hemingway (1927)

A man and a woman have drinks while waiting for the next train. This story is not so much about what is said, but what is left unsaid.

'Rope' by Katherine Anne Porter (1936)

Related indirect speech follows a passive aggressive "conversation" between a husband and wife over forgotten coffee and the unnecessary purchase of rope.

'The Lottery' by Shirley Jackson (1948)

Reviled by readers in the forties, 'The Lottery' tells the story of a village gathering that culminates in a sinister spectacle.

'Let Them Call It Jazz' by Jean Rhys (1962)

This short story follows the decline of a brazen narrator in London.

'The Babysitter' by Robert Coover (1969)

Erotic - and sometimes violent - fantasies converge on a teenage babysitter, as points of view flicker from one character to another.

Do you agree with our list? Let us know at @StirlingPublish

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