Short stories are CRIMINALLY underrated. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever written about short stories on this blog. I do read them sometimes, but definitely not as often as I read full-length novels.
And I don’t think they get enough appreciation.
There’s so much you can do in a short story that just wouldn’t work the same way in a novel. I’ve read a lot of short stories with masterful suspense, shock endings and clever twists that make them impossible to forget. And today, I’m going to be sharing some of them with you!
1)”A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury
“We don’t want to change the Future. We don’t belong here in the Past.”
Published: 1952 | Genre: science fiction
This is probably my favorite on the list. I still think about this story a lot. It’s about the butterfly effect/chaos theory and it’s so interesting.
On Goodreads I gave “A Sound Of Thunder” 3 stars in 2018– I don’t think I enjoyed the descriptions of bloody T-Rex’s (how do you write plural T-rex?) but I still remember the whole thing and I’m telling you now: it’s good.
It takes place in a future society where time machines have been invented and people can pay to go on “Time Travel Safaris” to travel to prehistoric times and hunt dinosaurs. There’s one catch, though: travelers must never step off the trodden path for fear of irreversibly altering the fabric of time.
2) “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
“The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green.“
Published: 1948 | Genre: horror
This one everyone knows. And it was spoiled for me. It’s about a town who congregates for the drawing of “The Lottery.” But this seemingly innocuous practice may be hiding something very sinister…
I read this one a few months ago, first thing in the morning (cheerful way to start the day). You can read it for free on the Internet; it’s published in The New Yorker magazine.
I need to read more books by Shirley Jackson. I’m planning to read We Have Always Lived in the Castle closer to Halloween.
3) “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury
“Nothing ever likes to die — even a room.”
Published: 1950 | Genre: science fiction
This story scared the crap out of my entire 8th-grade English class. It’s about, again, a future society where technology pervades every aspect of life. People live in smart homes where everything is automated, and virtual reality rooms provide an immersive escape from the monotony of daily life.
For the Hadley family, the smart home has everything they could ever want. The children spend all day playing in the virtual reality nursery while parents George and Lydia refrain from discipline. Only, the pull of the Nursery might be getting a little too strong…
4) “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe
“You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me.“
Published: 1843 | Genre: horror
I still remember reading this aloud in our suspense unit in middle school while my entire class looked at one another in horror. This story is SO WEIRD but it’s Poe, so what do you expect? It’s about guilt and paranoia, following a guy describing to the audience how he committed a murder, and… you’ll just have to read it.
(This one’s in the public domain, so you can easily find it and read it legally and for free!)
5) “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
“If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do?”
Published: 1892 | Genre: horror
A classic feminist short story! This one follows a woman whose controlling husband and physician prescribes a “rest cure” to ameliorate her mental health problems. Locked in a lonely room with no company except the sickly yellow patterned wallpaper, her sanity slowly begins to deteriorate.
This one is interesting because it deals with the concept of isolation (pretty relevant to this past year) and because it actually led to a change in public opinion on the common practice of ‘rest cure’ and societal attitudes towards women’s medical treatment.
(This one’s in the public domain too)