We all have our favourite short stories — that’s why any discussion over what makes the greatest short stories of all the time can take hours (or, in some cases, a lifetime).
Can there ever be one list we all can agree upon? Something that would glance upon all tastes, all eras, all countries, all genres, and also balance the impact on heart and mind?
I guess not. Hence, creating a list that has all the best titles is a daunting task in itself.
And that’s why we decided to create this list of some of our favourite short stories.
Our criteria for finding the best reads was to find stories that comfort us, thrill us, change us, hit us hard with plot twists, and also stand the test of time.
So, here’s a list that includes some of the most recognized mystery, romance, science fiction, horror, and thriller short stories of all time. Please let us know how wrong we got it.
Emergency by Denis Johnson
Denis Johnson’s “Emergency,” is a 1991 short story that recounts a series of events occurring in the emergency room of an Iowa City Hospital. The narrative involves a patient named Terence Weber and all the doctors who were working to save him from his gruesome injuries — a glass socket stuck in one eye and a knife stabbed in another.
Minutes of Glory by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
Minutes of Glory tells the inspiring and fascinating tale of big men in their Bentleys and their same-sized egos, women fighting for their space, and rebels with an envious fighting spirit towards ending the stereotypes in a patriarchal society.
The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol
Nikolai Gogol’s The Overcoat is a story about absurd obsession. Nikolai narrates a tale about a man’s obsession for an overcoat. Interestingly, there’s great symbolism relating to the overcoat and how it affects the main protagonist and the people around him.
Through the Tunnel by Doris Lessing
‘Through the Tunnel’ is a story about Jerry, the main protagonist who ultimately accomplishes his goal of swimming through a dark tunnel, which had been in his sights for years. It’s a story of a general sense of confidence and hard-won endurance.
The Company of Wolves by Angela Carter
Angela Carter’s ‘The Company of Wolves’ retells the anecdote of “Little Red Riding Hood.” The wolves are used as a metaphor to represent the men who would be out to take the virginity of a girl or a woman.
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen describes a world where the will to survive overrides all sense of compassion. The story is set in a concentration camp where prisoners eat, sleep, and work two metres from where others are murdered.
Happy Endings by Margaret Atwood
Through Happy Endings, Margaret intentionally plays with two characters John and Mary to weave different scenarios and plot with new characters and developments to illustrate ‘marriage is less about Happy Endings and more about complications.’
The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game is a creepy tale about a man who is trapped on a jungle island and how he ends up hunting humans for sport.
To Build a Fire by Jack London
To Build a Fire by Jack London is a short fiction that follows a man, his dog and their unique hike. The man travels through the bitterly cold forest despite warnings that it’s too dangerous.
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain
Through ‘The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,’ the author retells the story he heard from a bartender — about an unusual frog called Daniel Webster and a gambler who’d bet anything to have that frog.
That’s my favourite ten. But, chances are, you’ve got a different list of titles worth adding here. So, feel free to mention them in the comments section.
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