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eading novels is good, no doubt. Though short stories are often much more impactful, with their crisp and concise plots.
Here, we have collected a list of 15 best must-read short stories of all time. Jot it down!
The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
This story is a punch in your gut. It is packed with gothic horror about a murderer who is tortured by his own guilt and inevitably confesses the crime.
The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck
Elisa Allen tends her garden as her child. Frustrated by being childless and a husband not admiring her enough, the chrysanthemums symbolize femininity, sexuality, and a woman’s identity. Steinbeck’s story is thoughtful and relatable in more than one way.
The Jewbird by Bernard Malamud
Malamud talks about the plight faced by Jews with the help of an extrovert crow named Schwartz. Funny but thought-provoking, this fable is a take on assimilated American Jews who view their roots as a burden.
Everyday Use by Alice Walker
Who knew something as simple as quilting can speak volumes? Walker employs quilting as a metaphor of an African-American family legacy and emotions attached to it.
Going Ashore by Jhumpa Lahiri
Out of all stories written by Lahiri, “Going Ashore” is a masterpiece. The story is about Hema, a middle-aged woman trying to find a buoy in life to cling to. Kaushik comes as her temporary savior, only to be washed away by a tsunami.
The Landlady by Roald Dahl
The story is about a young man meeting an indulgent landlady. Topped with a murder that sends shivers down your spine, you will think twice before renting a BnB flat.
The Awakening by Shashi Deshpande
Alka is a woman with high dreams, but fewer resources. Born in a poor family, she scorns her dad for being in the same position since the start. It is only when she reads his letter, she comes to accept her fate and never complain about her misery again.
Pali by Bhisham Sahni
Pali is an important story that is a part of partition literature. A young boy gets lost from his Indian parents and taken into custody by a childless Muslim couple in Pakistan. Communal and religious issues arise when the boy’s biological parents come to get him back.
Going to meet the Man by James Baldwin
This short story examines the gap between perpetrators and victims of racism. It goes deeper into the minds of people who are projected to the horrors of the human psyche.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins
From a leading feminist of the 19th century, this story is about an unconventional woman trapped in a traditional marriage. All she has is an old mansion and a yellow crumbling wallpaper to stare at.
Araby by James Joyce
To the narrator, araby refers to the beauty and passion he is yearning in his life. It is a brief take on the notions we have. As cliché and simple as it may sound, the theme explored by Joyce is universal.
Remember this by Graham Swift
It is the tale of a newly married couple who are trying to juxtapose themselves beside each other. It is a must-read short of Graham’s.
The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde
“There is no mystery so great as misery.”
The tale of the prince is a happy one but with a bittersweet winding up. Read it for the dramatic prose of Wilde.
The Elephant vanishes by Haruki Murakami
A zookeeper and his old elephant vanish into the air. Is it an optical illusion or magic realism? Read an enthralling short story by the master of tales!
The Gift of Magi by O. Henry
This is a classic tale of Della and Jim who want to get each other a present for Christmas. Thanks to O. Henry for conveying that the greatest gift one can give and receive is love.