Contemporary Free Short Stories
These stories are by contemporary authors. If youve never read these authors before, their free short stories will give you a taste of their style before you commit to one of their longer works. Theres something for everyone, with genres ranging from science fiction to historical fiction to horror.
The Hunters Wife by Anthony Doerr
Gorgeous descriptions of nature fill this story of a hunter and his younger, psychic wife during a Montana winter. After reading it, youll be amazed by the talent of Doerr, who earned a Pulitzer Prize for his novel All The Light We Cannot See.
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Premium Harmony by Stephen King
King fans wont want to miss this 2009 short story which appeared in The New Yorker. A bickering couple stop at a convenience store and find their lives taking an unexpected dark turn. If you read closely, youll also catch references to the horror writers other works here.
Broads by Roxane Gay
Youll get a kick out of this saucy story by Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist. Jimmy has a thing for loud, bold women. But its not until he meets a diner waitress that he finally seems to get what he wants.
And of Clay We Are Created by Isabel Allende
Were transfixed by this story based on a real-life natural disaster. A volcano erupted in Colombia in 1985 and caused mudslides that tragically killed 23,000 people. Weaving culture with a gripping personal drama, Allendes story centers on the rescue of Azucena, a girl trapped in the mud.
Girls, At Play by Celeste Ng
This story by the author of New York Times bestselling novels Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere may shock you at first. It focuses on three 13-year-old girls who play a very adult game at school. But when a new girl arrives, they are able to recapture some of the innocence theyve lost.
Ghosts and Empties by Lauren Groff
This poignant story follows a mother on her evening walk as she contemplates the history of her neighborhood, the personal lives of the people within, and her own raging emotions. Though short, its a powerful read for those overcome by feelings in their own lives.
The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu
A finalist for both the Nebula and Hugo awards, this short story is more than it seems. While on the surface its a tale of the battle between bees and wasps, underneath it carries deeper political themes and questions that you will want to discuss with your book buddies.
The Faery Handbag by Kelly Link
Were betting youll find this Kelly Link story as delightful as we do. Genevieves grandmother Zofia claims her handbag houses a group of fairies. One day, Genevieve discovers if its true. This acclaimed story won three major awards the Nebula, Locus, and Hugo.
The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu
What if it rained every time someone lied? Thats the world where Matt exists in this fanciful, thought-provoking John Chu tale. When Matt needs to come out to his traditional Chinese parents, not to mention discuss marriage with his partner, hell have to weather the challenges in more ways than one.
St. Lucys Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell
Those of us who adore Karen Russells magical realism know that this story is a must-read. A group of werewolves daughters come to a halfway house run by nuns, where they are encouraged to civilize. But the girls struggle not to fall back on their old wolfish habits.
Younger Women by Karen Joy Fowler
Weve got a serious crush on this story from the author of The Jane Austen Book Club. Judes suspicious when her 15-year-old daughter, Chloe, starts dating a mysterious boy. She becomes even more so when he comes to dinner, because Eli is far from normal
Queenie by Alice Munro
This short by Nobel Prizewinning Alice Munro is a slow burn, but powerful. After her sister Queenie elopes with an older widower, Chrissy reflects on her own choices and what could have been.
Classic Free Short Stories
If you havent read these classic short stories, youre missing out. Cozy up and take 15 minutes to read one of these free short stories today.
The Nine Stories collection by J.D. Salinger
If you loved The Catcher in the Rye, you wont want to skip this collection of Salinger stories published in 1953. Of particular note are Perfect Day for Bananafish and For Esme With Love and Squalor, two of the more well-known tales, both featuring children and illustrating the haunting effects of war.
The Dead by James Joyce
Were so curious about the shocking twist in this story by acclaimed Irish author James Joyce. At a lush Dublin New Years Eve party, Gabriels wife tells him a secret that will have lasting impact on him and the reader.
The Lady with the Little Dog by Anton Chekhov
Published at the turn of century, this Chekhov story follows a married man who has a brief but passionate affair with a younger woman whom he meets while shes walking her dog. Its rumored to be a favorite of fellow classic author Vladimir Nabokov.
To Build a Fire by Jack London
Readers who are drawn to Jack Londons stories of survival in the wild shouldnt skip this short. Set in the frozen Yukon Territory, it follows a man who unwisely decides to hike with only a dog for company and is forced to put his survival skills to the test. Youd better read this one with a hot cup of tea or coffee nearby.
The Monkeys Paw by W. W. Jacobs
If you havent already read it, The Monkeys Paw will unsettle you and make you think very differently about wishes! When the White family is shown a mummified monkeys paw which is given the magical ability to grant wishes, Mr. White cant resist a simple wish. But the price he pays is ghastly
The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe
Horror fans especially those whove read Poes other work will find this revenge story delightfully macabre. After his friend Fortunato wrongs him, Montresor lures him during the carnival season to the catacombs, where he introduces the man to a truly sinister fate.
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain
A quirky Twain tale that is not to be missed! Jim Smiley loves to bet. But when he finds a frog, trains it to jump, and wagers that this prized frog is the best jumper in the county, he learns a painful lesson.
Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville
This story is one of the last published by the Moby-Dick author. One day, at his Wall Street copyist job, Bartleby refuses an assignment from his boss, saying, I would prefer not to. What happens will have you glued to the pages.
In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka
Though strange and disturbing, youll still be thinking about Franz Kafkas In the Penal Colony after youve finished. A visitor to a penal colony witnesses an odd method of execution: a machine which engraves the crime on the prisoner before he dies. But does the punishment fit the crime?
Symbols and Signs by Vladimir Nabokov
Appearing in a 1948 issue of The New Yorker, this story centers on an older couple who visit their mentally ill son who has just attempted suicide. Returning home, the father decides to remove the son from the hospital. Interwoven in the story which lends itself to multiple interpretations is the familys history as Russian Jews.
The Veldt by Ray Bradbury
If you adore Bradbury as much as we do, youll love reading this science fiction about technology gone awry. A family of four lives in a home equipped with advanced technology, including a simulation room for the children to experience their wildest fantasies. But when their parents become disturbed by the houses control over their children, they must fight back.
What are your favorite short stories?
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