Do you feel a restlessness for the literary world? A collection of short story examples is the perfect choice for someone who is just starting to dive into reading.
If you’ve never been in the habit of reading, it can be a bit tedious to study long, dense texts. however, a good alternative is to start by reading a few examples of literary short stories to get a taste for reading. Then, with time, you will be able to read any kind of short story, essay or novel you wish.
Therefore, in this article we will show you a list of examples of famous short stories that have been written by renowned writers of international stature. we are sure you will enjoy these stories! In addition, we will give you some tips on how to write a short story so you can be the next Gabriel García Márquez or Edgar Allan Poe.
1. Casa Tomada – Julio Cortázar
We can’t start talking about examples of short stories without mentioning Julio Cortázar. this Argentinian writer is considered the master of short stories and has a large number of literary works that have achieved international recognition. In this case, we recommend his well-known short story Casa Tomada.
Casa Tomada is a short story that tells the story of two brothers who are heirs of an old family house. Both have lived together for a long time and lead a quiet and carefree life. However, everything changes when a strange force seeks to expel them from their home.
2. The Tell-Tale Heart – Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe, the master of horror, is a figure you should keep in mind if you are looking for examples of scary short stories. This American writer is the inventor of the detective story and his works are characterized by being full of suspense. In addition to writing short stories and novels, he is also an excellent poet.
One of Poe’s best-known short stories is The Tell-Tale Heart, whose protagonist is a mentally unstable person who commits a macabre crime. However, he must face the specter of guilt that drags him into an abyss of no return.
3. Before the Law – Franz Kafka
Another of the infallible authors in this list of examples of realistic short stories is Franz Kafka, whose works are characterized by their symbolic richness and by having protagonists who must deal with the anguish and uncertainty generated by living in an incomprehensible world.
A clear reference of his writing style can be seen in his work Ante la ley. This literary tale tells the story of a peasant who tries to enter The Law, but is prevented from doing so by a guardian. The guardian tries to convince the peasant to break the law, but the peasant is adamant in his stance.
Here, Kafka makes a critique of how justice is not equal for all, so it becomes one of the best examples of short stories of everyday life.
Source: Choose a book
4. The Night of the Ugly – Mario Benedetti
In case you are looking for examples of Latin American short stories, Mario Benedetti’s work will definitely catch your attention. This Uruguayan writer belonged to the well-known Generation of ’45, so many of his works cover social issues of the time and try to invite reflection.
La noche de los feos is a short story that tells the story of a man and a woman with some facial defects. both are in a movie theater and, seeing that everyone in the audience was accompanied and holding hands, they decide to sit together. As the story progresses, Benedetti seeks to emphasize the psychological aspect of the protagonists and how prejudice and loneliness affect people .
Source: Esnaola Library
5. Adrift – Horacio Quiroga
Horacio Quiroga is considered one of the masters of literary short stories. According to the portal La Casa del Libro, the works of this Latin American writer stand out for having an atmosphere of hallucination, crime, madness and delirious states. In addition, he also showed interest in themes related to nature and love.
A la deriva, one of Quiroga’s best known short stories, tells the story of Paulino, a man who is bitten by a snake and the venom runs through his body. he decides to take a three-hour canoe trip to his compadre’s house, resisting death.
Source: Ciudad Valencia
6. The most beautiful drowned man in the world – Gabriel García Marquez
Gabriel García Marquez is one of the Latin American writers who needs no introduction, as his works have crossed borders. This Colombian writer, winner of theNobel Prize, is characterized by a mythical representation of the real world, showing a strong inclination towards the current of magical realism.
El ahogado más hermoso del mundo is an example of a short story that takes place in a town located on the coastal beaches of the Caribbean. a group of children find a huge lump in the water that turns out to be a large dead man. The inhabitants decide to give it a dignified burial, a situation that is used by everyone to express their deepest feelings and emotions.
7. The Selfish Giant – Oscar Wilde
If you are interested in examples of short stories for children and adults, then the works of Oscar Wilde are perfect for your library. This Irish writer was noted for his sharp wit and lively dialogues loaded with irony. He has a long list of works, The Picture of Dorian Gray being one of his greatest successes.
One of his most famous short stories is The Selfish Giant, which tells the story of a bitter giant who owns a beautiful garden surrounded by a huge wall to prevent any child from entering his property.
However, he realizes that spring is not coming to his garden and reflects on his selfishness as he notices how children enter through a hole in a wall to play and, behind them, spring is coming.
Source: Apple Books
8. The House of Asterion – Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges is one of the greatest exponents of Latin American literature who was characterized by his polemic stances, his scathing criticism of the Peronist government and his irreverent writing. Within his work, we can find short stories, poems and essays that until today enjoy an important recognition.
If you are looking for stories and short stories that make you question about good and evil, you can’t miss reading La casa de Asterión. This story focuses on the mythological figure of the Minotaur and offers a more human and fragile perception of the dreaded beast, which eagerly awaits the moment of its redemption.
Source: ICESI University
9. Cathedral – Raymond Carver
Raymond Carver is another important writer for this list of short story examples. His works have gone on to achieve great recognition and he is considered one of the main exponents of dirty realism. His stories are characterized by restrained emotional intensity and portray characters who are forlorn and beaten down by life.
Cathedral is one of his best-known literary short stories and is about a man who expresses his discomfort at having to receive a visit from a former friend of his wife’s, who is blind. However, as the story progresses, the protagonist begins to relate to him and learns a valuable lesson.
10. A Perfect Day for the Banana Fish – J. D. Salinger
Within J. D. Salinger’s work, you can find different examples of short stories that will leave you fascinated. This American writer achieved international success with his book The Catcher in the Rye, which he began writing when he was in the army during World War II.
A Perfect Day for Bananafish is a short story, from his book Nine Tales, which tells the story of Seymour Glass, an ex-combatant who was left with psychological sequelae after having been in World War II. during a trip to the beach with his wife, Seymour strikes up a friendship with a girl named Sybil and the two have a very interesting conversation by the sea.
11. The Lady with the Little Dog – Anton Chekhov
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian writer and playwright considered a representative of the realist trend. His literary stories are characterized by moderate expressiveness, avoidance of complex plots and portrayal of Russian society of the time.
The Lady with the Little Dog is one of the most popular examples of short stories in world literature. This story tells of the romance that occurs between Anna and Gúrov, when the latter is struck by the beautiful woman walking along with a white Pomeranian dog.
12. The Cat in the Rain – Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway’s short stories are very interesting and perfect for new readers. This American writer likes to deal with themes related to death, human frailty, individual limits and many more. Thanks to his success, he managed to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.
The Cat in the Rain is a short story full of symbolism thatdeals with the lack of love between two people who find it difficult to express what they feel in words. however, Hemingway uses metaphor to express the deepest desires of his characters.
Source: Mercado Libre Mexico
13. The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
In this example of a realistic short story, American writer Charlotte sheds light on the difficulties faced by the story’s narrator, a woman suffering from depression after childbirth. Her husband, John, a doctor, assumes she is suffering from hysteria and takes her to a cottage to be cured.
he does not allow her to do her favorite activities, such as writing, which helps her escape from reality. In addition, he distances her from her son. After a while, she becomes obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in her room and imagines that a woman, like her, is trapped in it and wants to get out.
To help the imaginary woman, the narrator starts peeling off the wallpaper. At the end of the story, John sees her crawling across the room and faints. This is one of the great examples of short stories from everyday life, as the story highlights on the reality of how many women are ignored daily by their spouses, leading them to depression.
14. The Story of an Hour – Kate Chopin
This short story example is an extraordinary piece from that era. It tells the story of a woman named Louise Mallard, who felt oppressed by her husband and finds relief when she sees a light of freedom after the death of her partner.
She rejoices and imagines a bright future after receiving the news. However, Brently Mallard, Louise’s husband, returns home. The pain of his failed dreams causes him to suffer a heart attack and he eventually dies. The doctor assumes that she has died of cardiac arrest, as she was unable to absorb the happiness of her husband’s arrival.
Source: Leisure House of Books
15. Guy’s Necklace – Guy de Maupassant
Guy’s Necklace is one of the best examples of short stories. It revolves around the life of an employee of the Ministry of Education and his extraordinary wife, Mathilda .
The plot of this short story begins when Mathilda borrows an expensive necklace from her friend for a ball, but loses it when they return home. They somehow arrange to replace it after buying the original necklace with borrowed money and spend their lives struggling to repay the loan.
After several years, they meet the same friend again. To their bad luck, she tells them that her necklace was fake.
16. The Gift of the Magi – O. Henry
This is one of the examples of short stories with a simple, yet captivating story. It is about a young married couple searching for the perfect Christmas gift. However, in securing these “perfect gifts,” each is forced to give up something very precious to them, resulting in a rather unfortunate twist.
American writer O. Henry invites the reader to recognize that, although the valuable sacrifices the couple makes for each other ultimately reduce their gifts to irrelevance, their sacrifices were made out of love and, therefore, are the most valuable gifts of all.
17. Lighting a fire – Jack London
If we talk about examples of adventure short stories, without a doubt, American writer Jack London takes the trophy. Many of his novels and short stories have achieved universal dissemination, as they deal with realistic narratives in which human beings are dramatically confronted with their survival.
One of his classic works is “Lighting a Fire”, a story that revolves around an anonymous character who dares to travel to the Yukon Trail, accompanied by his dog. In the course of the story, he faces a heavy snowfall that causes him to fall, so he decides to kill his dog to stay alive.
Subsequently, he tries to light a fire, but fails and dies. His struggle and his mistaken notion about his strength and power of thought prove fatal for him. This is a good example of short stories portraying the conflict between man and nature, in which the importance of fire stands out.
18. B24 – Arthur Conan Doyle
Anyone who has heard the name Arthur Conan Doyle will know that he is most famous for his hugely popular Sherlock Holmes stories. But perhaps not everyone realizes what a talented and prolific writer he really was, particularly in the short story genre.
The stories themselves of the adventures of Detective Sherlock Holmes are, of course, an example of the short story. But for anyone who has ever wondered what this author could do outside of the Holmes stories, “B24” is another excellent work to highlight Arthur Conan Doyle as a master of the short story.
19. The Highwayman – Charles Dickens
Written by one of England’s greatest novelists, “The Signalman” is a spooky horror short story about a man who is haunted by spectral and foreboding visions.
Undoubtedly, this example of a short story is notable for the way Dickens establishes an eerie, supernatural atmosphere throughout the story. Not only does it suggest that the character has “left the natural world,” but it also invites the reader to immerse himself in the setting, which in this case is a graveyard.
20. The Magic Shop – H. George Wells
This is one of the best examples of short stories for children and adults that narrates the experience of a father and son as they visit a ‘genuine magic store’. while the child explores the store and sees only joy and wonder, his father is confronted with more sinister visions.
Thus, the story examines how we experience the world as children versus how we experience the world as adults. In doing so, “The Magic Shop” invites the reader to think about whether innocence and evil really exist in the outside world, or whether these are simply determined by our own perceptions.
21. The Perfect Young Miss – Patricia Highsmith
Another one of the examples of short stories that must be in your library. This is a short story written by the American novelist famous for her suspenseful works.
In this great story, a catalog of perversities is revealed that turn the question on the table, according to Zenda Libros. wouldn’t it be wise to reconsider the elements that we consider socially perfect? read this great story and find out!
22. Losing Speed – Samanta Schweblin
This is an example of a short story by Argentine writer Samanta Schweblin, which takes you into a story that unfolds on two planes.
On the one hand, you can visualize a story that takes place from a physical space that is a kitchen in the early morning, and on the other hand, a memory that leads to a scene in a circus. Both planes move in the magical simplicity of a dialogue and a subsequent narrated description.
Source: Collective Culture
how to make a short story?
Besides reading, are you also interested in making a short story? then now more than ever you should keep reading!
Majo Moirón, teacher of the online course The Art of Writing, refers that part of the writing process is to nurture your own voice with other voices. the work of other writers can inspire you and help you delve into your own world to discover what your writing style is. in addition, you can get ideas for writing a story of your own.
Beyond being a basic guide to improve your writing, the literary world can open your mind to many possibilities, which is why reading these examples of famous short stories is an effective way to start acquiring this habit. In addition, you can also follow these tips:
Read about topics or genres that catch your attention .
Use your free time to start reading, such as when you are on public transportation or in line at the grocery store.
Accompany your reading with a snack and a beverage that you enjoy.
If you don’t like what you are reading, don’t waste your time and change your reading, there are many examples of short stories to discover .
read with your friends! By getting together with other people who read, you will feel motivated and afterwards you can comment and discuss your reading.
We’re sure you’ll have a great time reading these examples of literary short stories. Besides, they will help you get to know the narrative of excellent writers that every literature lover recommends reading at least once in a lifetime.
see you in the next article!