Top 10 Tuesday: Unforgettable Short Stories

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This Week’s Topic Is: Unforgettable Short Stories!

Let’s face it – we read a lot of books! I like collecting books almost as much as I like reading them, and I’m always on the lookout for the next favorite read. There are so many amazing genres, and for this post I decided to focus on short stories!

This was a fun list to put together, and a difficult list to narrow down. Every short story on this post has a link to the story so that you can check them out for free!

Favorite Short Stories:

1. “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl

Though Roald Dahl is a beloved children’s book author, he also wrote amazing short stories with more adult themes.

“Lamb to the Slaughter” is, by far, my favorite Roald Dahl short story. It is smart and ironic, with a sinister twist and excellent dialogue. That last line is killer! (Pun intended)

Fun Fact: This story was adapted for an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Read “Lamb to the Slaughter”

2. “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid

Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” is a short story included in At the Bottom of the River. A fascinating look at the relationship between a mother and daughter as well as a statement about the societal and familial expectations of women, this story is short and powerful.

Fun Fact: This is the first story Jamaica Kincaid ever published!

Read “Girl”

3. “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs

“The Monkey’s Paw” is a terrifying story about what happens when something you wish for goes terribly wrong. The author’s exceptional use of symbolism and sensory devices adds to the ominous mood. This is the ultimate story to teach readers to be careful what they wish for.

Fun Fact: “The Monkey’s Paw” has been adapted for radio, television (It was spoofed on The Simpsons), film, and even an Opera!

Read “The Monkey’s Paw”

4. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

I think a lot of people read this story in school. A shocking and disturbing story about the power of tradition, ritual, and conformity, this piece also explores the dualities of people and communities.

Fun Fact: When this story was published in The New Yorker, it generated more letters than any other published piece ever had. Readers were outraged, disgusted, and stunned.

Read “The Lottery”

5. “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu

I won’t lie – I sobbed when I read “The Paper Menagerie.” I’ve never had a short story evoke such strong feelings before. This is a beautiful and heart-breaking story of a fractured mother-son relationship and the unspoken words of love and grief.

Fun Fact: This is the first work of fiction to win the Nebula, the Hugo, and the World Fantasy Award.

Read “The Paper Menagerie”

6. “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury

I love Ray Bradbury stories. “All Summer in a Day” and “There Will Come Soft Rains” are two other amazing short pieces by him. “A Sound of Thunder”” is a cautionary tale. Bradbury’s masterful use of imagery and metaphors shows the horrifying effects of man’s influence on nature. The messages about humans abilities to severely influence the future are also quite staggering.

Fun Fact: “A Sound of Thunder” is credited as the origin of the term “butterfly effect.”

Read “A Sound of Thunder”

7. “The Lady or The Tiger?” by Frank Stockton

“The Lady or the Tiger” provokes some interesting questions: Which is a stronger emotion-love or jealousy? Can you ever completely trust another? Why are the rulers in stories always such selfish leaders?

This piece also has the ultimate cliffhanger ending, which I love!

Fun Fact: The Simpsons paid homage to this story in Season 17, episode 17.

Read “The Lady or the Tiger?”

8. “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Anderson

This is a timeless and sad fairy tale that explores difficult topics like death, poverty, and loss. It also offers messages about community, helping those in need, and being more aware of others.

Fun Fact: A theme park in the Netherlands has an attraction devoted to “The Little Match Girl”

Read “The Little Match Girl”

9. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

This classic story explores gender roles and an oppressed woman’s search for identity and freedom in a male dominated household and society.

The irony in this piece is astounding, the symbolism is poignant, and the feminist messages still resonate today.

Fun Fact: This story was rejected by two magazines and was only published after one of Chopin’s other pieces received notoriety.

Read “The Story of an Hour”

10. “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe

Can you make a list of awesome short stories and not include Edgar Allan Poe? Considered the master of horror, Poe is the penultimate author of chilling short stories.

“The Cask of Amontillado” explores themes of revenge, betrayal, and insanity. The protagonist’s sinister intentions stand in stark contrast to the joyous festival that is the setting.

Fun Fact: Poe loosely based this chilling tale after a true story! How terrifyingly horrifying is that?

Read “The Cask of Amontillado”

Which short stories would make your top 10? Comment below! 🙂

16 thoughts on “Top 10 Tuesday: Unforgettable Short Stories

  1. OMG Lamb to the Slaughter is one of the best things ever to use at the beginning of a school year when teenagers think they know what to expect and the next day they come back and look at you like you are the most psychotic teacher they have ever had.

  2. I remember reading “The Monkey’s Paw” in high school. I only vaguely remember the story, but I definitely remember the ending and the feeling it left behind.

    My TTT

  3. So many great ones on this list!! There’s only a few I haven’t read, but I’ll be finding those now. 🙂

  4. Hola! I’ve been following your site for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the good job!

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