Ten favorite short stories

I’ve been wanting to make this list for a while. It is tough to put together. How do you not include Chekhov, Munro or Fitzgerald? Which story do you include from the works of Hemingway or O’Connor?

I have so many more short stories to read from the hundreds of truly excellent stories out there. And lots of great stories and authors didn’t make this cut!

Why did these chosen few make the list? First of all, these were ones that I recalled even without a reference guide — I remembered them because they literally stuck with me. Each one hit me in the gut, not only on the first reading but on multiple readings. They made me think, feel, ponder, wonder.

1. A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Connor

2. The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka

3. The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Leo Tolstoy

4. The Dead, James Joyce

5. Cathedral, Raymond Carver

6. Barn Burning, William Faulkner

7. Greenleaf, Flannery O’Connor

8. The Babysitter, Robert Coover

9. Sea Oak, George Saunders

10. A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, Ernest Hemingway

Want to learn about more short story titles? The Danforth Review asked various authors and teachers for a list of stories the would teach in an introductory course. Please list your favorite short stories in the comments, or I “tag” you to post your own top 10 on your personal blog.

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20 Responses to Ten favorite short stories

  1. Andi says:

    Wow, I’ve only read 1 and 10 (that I can remember). Loved both of those, but I’m a little surprised that I haven’t read more. Maybe I’ll make a list, too. While I don’t usually seek short stories out these days (unless my attention span is running low and I’m antsy), I do love them, and finding a new favorite is always a wonderful treat.


  2. iliana says:

    I have only read The Metamorphosis from your list. Yikes. Then again, I don’t read many short stories. Thank you for the link to the Danforth Review.


  3. ted says:

    I feel a little silly contesting such a lovely list, but does <>The Metamorphosis<> truly count? I know “novella” wasn’t an operating term at the time, but I would categorize it thus. To bolster my point, I think it’s usually written in italics, not quotes, so maybe the MLA has throw down a ruling on it.But seriously, great list. I’m going to work on one of my own…


  4. Kate S. says:

    I’ve only read four of your ten picks. I know you’re a reader of impeccable taste, so I will get to work on the others immediately!


  5. bhadd says:

    This is incredible for recommendation I think. Wow!< HREF="http://www.hoodpublishing.com" REL="nofollow">The Hood Company<>


  6. Dorothy W. says:

    That’s a great list! I’ve read 4 of them — maybe 5, but I can’t remember if I actually read the Tolstoy or not, so I shouldn’t count it.


  7. nova says:

    I love “Sea Oak”! And “The Dead.”Great list; I may just play along…


  8. Dark Orpheus says:

    Totally ashamed – I’ve read none of the titles listed!


  9. Cliff Burns says:

    Favorite short stories…hmm. How about these ones:Richard Ford “Rock Springs”Charles Beaumont “Miss Gentibelle”Jerome Bixby “It’s a GOOD Life”And can I recommend the short prose of Christopher Tilghman, Thom Jones and James Crumley’s collection of war stories ONE TO COUNT CADENCE? Can’t go wrong with these authors.


  10. Tai says:

    Wonderful idea. It was rather agonizing to limit the list to ten; some gems fell by the wayside. My list is posted < HREF="http://aerophant.blogspot.com/" REL="nofollow">here<>.


  11. snackywombat says:

    great idea! i’m going to read ‘barn burning’ be/c i have an aversion to faulkner that i should probably get over. my recommendation is roses, rhododendron by alice adams. oh and a christmas memory by truman capote!


  12. danielle says:

    I have not read a single one (that I recall)–how sad is that. Like poetry, I am just not one to pick up short stories to read. I really do want to change that, and I have read along with Kate’s group a bit, but I seem to have fizzled this year. I guess I need to find a list of 100 short stories and read from that. I tend to want to read a whole book (or I feel like I am cheating), rather than just one story from a book. And I don’t usually sit down and read an entire book of short stories, though I have lots of them! Will have to think about your challenge!


  13. SFP says:

    I’ve read six or seven of them–can’t remember if I’ve read that particular Carver. Have not read the Saunders, Coover and Faulkner.


  14. I love this meme and challenge! I posted my 10 faves at my blog..http://wishythewriter.blogspot.com/2007/04/great-short-story-meme-and-challenge.htmland I joined your challenge! I’ll read “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin, after reading Nova’s list.I have links to some online short stories, too, at my blog, if you’d like to read some that way.Thanks for a great idea!


  15. I’ve only read nine of your ten picks. your list of favorite stories show you’re a reader of impeccable taste.I will try t find George Saunders’ story as well.Thanks for a great idea!This message comes to you from Iran


  16. Amanda A. says:

    I will read the Sea Oak. I’m a big fan of the Flannery O’Connor short story “Good Country People”


  17. Emin says:

    What about “The Overcoat” by Gogol?


  18. LK says:

    All excellent!I have to duck my head in shame, though: I mistakenly thought Welty had written Greeleaf, but yo, it was Flannery O’Connor! So, now the count is: 2 Flannery, 0 Eudora.Still, Flannery deserves the honors. Greenleaf stuck with me, even if the author’s name didn’t.For anyone wanting to read Welty, “Why I Live at the P.O” is a classic.


  19. ted says:

    Thanks for doing this. I just posted < HREF="http://myrtias.wordpress.com/2007/04/28/top-ten-short-stories/" REL="nofollow"> my own list<>


  20. Anonymous says:

    metamorphasis is a novella not a SS


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