18 Great Short Stories You Can Read Free Online | Book Riot (2023)

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(Editor’s note: this post was updated in August, 2021, with current links to all stories.) When I have no idea what to read, I find a bunch of free short stories online, save them onto the Pocket app, and read them as if I’ve compiled my own short story collection. Like a music playlist I create to match a mood, I create short story playlists to break a book slump, or to sample a bunch of different authors’ writing.

18 Great Short Stories You Can Read Free Online | Book Riot (1)

As to where to find great stories, The New Yorker stories are generally best, but require a subscription if you read too many in a month. I also like Narrative Magazine, which will ask you for an email, but their stories are free too. Tor of course has some great free stuff, and you can find most of the classics through Gutenberg. The stories on this list that are not from any of these publications, I found through simple Google searches. If I’m interested in an author, but don’t necessarily want to read a whole book, I look to see if they have any short fiction available that I can read first.

From this list, my favorites are Zadie Smith and Italo Calvino’s stories. I’d never read Zadie Smith, but after loving “The Embassy of Cambodia” I started On Beauty(a 500 page book) and I absolutely love it. Both stories satisfied a reading itch I needed scratched.

Here are a few of my favorite free short stories you can read online right now.

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The Library of Babel” by Jorge Luis Borges

The world is a library that contains all the books that have ever been written, but most of them are indecipherable. Many people venture to the library to find the meaning of life. It reminded me of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld library.

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“Perhaps my old age and fearfulness deceive me, but I suspect that the human species—the unique species—is about to be extinguished, but the Library will endure: illuminated, solitary, infinite, perfectly motionless, equipped with precious volumes, useless, incorruptible, secret.”

“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

This used to be my favorite short story, and I might only think that because I read it when I was a freshman in high school and I remember being shocked by the ending. It’s always stayed with me.

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor

Another story with an ending that you won’t forget anytime soon. O’Connor was a master. If you’ve never read any of her work I would start here.

“In the Penal Colony” by Franz Kafka

It’s a chilling story. A man known as the Traveller is visiting a foreign penal colony where he is shown a special machine used to execute prisoners. The machine inscribes the prisoner’s crime onto their body until they die (kind of sounds familiar if you’ve read the fifth Harry Potter book). It takes twelve hours of torture before the prisoner dies. I told you it was chilling!

“The Devil in America” by Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor)

Kai Ashante Wilson has quite a talent. This ties present day police brutality towards African Americans to post-emancipation America and a family of freed slaves that are living with the Devil that followed them from Africa.

“The City Born Great” by N.K. Jemisin (Tor)

Cities, once they are old enough, must be born. New York City is ready to be born, and must be led into the world by a reluctant midwife.

“Spider the Artist” by Nnedi Okorafor (Lightspeed Magazine)

Okorafor is a wonderful storyteller, and if you’ve never read her books, this would be a great place to start. And if you like this short story, Binti: The Complete Trilogywas released in February!

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“Exhalation” by Ted Chiang (Lightspeed Magazine)

Oh, you’ve never read Ted Chiang? Well, you must go out now and read this story and then read Stories of Your Life and Othersand his new collection Exhalation: Stories, which comes out in May. I was shocked by how good and complex his writing was. I had no idea that the movie The Arrival was based on one of his short stories.

“The Daughters of the Moon” by Italo Calvino (The New Yorker)

I don’t know. It’s either Zadie Smith’s “The Embassy of Cambodia” or this story that is my favorite on the list… I can’t decide. I think it’s this story. A story about the people of Earth deciding to throw away the Moon. It’s a story of consumerism. Luckily, I own “The Complete Cosmicomics“, so I can continue reading Calvino’s magnificent short story collection.

“The Embassy of Cambodia” by Zadie Smith (The New Yorker)

After you read “The Devil in America” read this story and see if you can find the parallels. This was my first time reading Zadie Smith because I’d always heard mixed reviews, but if her longer fiction is anything like this short story, I’m in love. If you need help figuring out where to start with Zadie Smith’s books, check out our Reading Pathway guide to Zadie Smith.

“Sweetness” by Toni MOrrison (The New Yorker)

A prelude to Morrison’s book God Help the Child, this is the story of Bride’s mother, and her rationale for raising her daughter in a loveless home.

“Girls, At Play”by Celeste Ng (Bellevue Literary Review)

“This is how we play the game: pink means kissing; red means tongue. Green means up your shirt; blue means down his pants. Purple means in your mouth. Black means all the way.”

The first four sentences of this short story sent chills down my spine. A superbly told story of the extremes of girlhood and adolescence; the pressures girls face as they get older.

“On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning” by Haruki Murakami (Genius)

Love at first sight, if you believe love is predestined rather than a choice. Fated love, to me, no matter how hard my heart becomes, still seems ridiculously romantic. I haven’t read Murakami in a long time but now I’m itching to pick up one of his books (I really want to read 1Q84, but it’s soooo long!).

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“Chechnya”by Anthony Marra (Narrative Magazine)

This was Anthony Marra’s first published short story, and works as an outline for his novel A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon. It’s the kind of story you read while holding your breath.

“The Fruit of My Woman” by Han Kang (Granta)

This story was written in 1997 before the publication of The Vegetarian. The two stories share many of the same themes, and it’s evident that this story served as a blueprint for the later book. In “The Fruit of My Woman” the wife is slowly turning into a tree (something that also comes up in The Vegetarian). The allusions to Daphne turning herself into a laurel tree to escape the advances of Apollo are hard to miss, but there’s no clear indication that Daphne was an actual influence on either story. Han Kang can do no wrong in my eyes.

“A Lady’s Maid” by Sarah Gailey (Barnes & Noble)

I love Sarah Gailey. This is a great introduction if you’re unfamiliar with her work. It’s Victorian London with androids—so much to love!

“A Bruise the Size and Shape of a Door Handle” by Daisy Johnson (American Short Fiction)

A hot and bothered story about a house falling in love with the girl who lives in the attic. I loved everything about this story. This is included in Johnson’s short story collection, Fen, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Also, the writing style reminded me of Samantha Hunt.

“Hollow” by Breece D’J Pancake (The Atlantic)

Breece D’J Pancake died when he was 26. He was from West Virginia, and I would label his writing “grit-lit”. This story was almost too gritty for me. He’s the kind of writer that other writers love. His short story collection has a blurb from Joyce Carol Oates.

Want more short stories? Check out our post on the 100 best short story collections!


How do you find a story you can't remember the name of? ›

First, pin down everything you can remember about the book, plot, character names, time period in which the book may have been published, genre, etc.
  1. What's the Name of That Book? ...
  2. Name That Book. ...
  3. The Fiction_L listserv. ...
  4. Reddit's whatsthatbook thread. ...
  5. "Stump the Bookseller" blog. ...
  6. Big Book Search.
Nov 22, 2017

Can I read short stories online? ›

Those of us who love short stories know the magic behind a well-told tale. There are times when you just need a complete story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Well, we've got some great news: A lot of incredible short stories are actually available online, and you can read them for free right now!

What stories are in 50 Great short stories? ›

Examples of the fifty stories included are: The Garden Party by Katherine Mansfield, The Three-Day Blow by Ernest Hemingway, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe, The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck, That Evening Sun by William Faulkner, Thrawn Janet by Robert Louis Stevenson, ...

Where can I read books online for free without signing up? ›

Project Gutenberg offers a vibrant and growing collection of the world's great literature. Read, enjoy, and share! No fee or registration! Everything from Project Gutenberg is gratis, libre, and completely without cost to readers.

Which app can I read stories for free? ›

7 Best apps to freely read books in India
  • Google Play Books.
  • Amazon Kindle.
  • Apple books.
  • Oodles books.
  • Moon+ reader.
  • Comics by ComiXology.
  • Kobo.
Jan 5, 2022

Why do I forget names but remember faces? ›

This study indicates that when you know someone's face but not their name, it is because we are better at recognition than recall. Some studies have found that names are more difficult to recall than personal identity information because names are meaningless (Cohen, 1990).

How do I find hidden stories on Google? ›

All Replies (3)
  1. Go to the left-hand panel (with your news feed)
  2. Click the "Overflow" (3 dots) menu in the top right corner.
  3. Click "Customize Discover"
  4. Under "More Preferences," click "Show More"
  5. Choose "Sources"
  6. Scroll down to "Stories" and check any sources you want to see again.
Oct 12, 2018

What is it called when you Cannot remember names? ›

Primary progressive aphasia

As it's a primary progressive condition, the symptoms get worse over time. Usually, the first problem people with primary progressive aphasia (PPA) notice is difficulty finding the right word or remembering somebody's name.

How can I read books for free Legally? ›

The 6 Best Places to Legally Download Ebooks for Free
  1. Baen Free Library. Feedbooks. ...
  2. Project Gutenberg. Bartleby. ...
  3. Bartleby ebooks. Open Library. ...
  4. Open Library. Nook, Kindle, Kobo etc.
Feb 24, 2015

How do I get Google to read stories? ›

Turn on Read Aloud for ebooks
  1. Open the Play Books app .
  2. Open a book.
  3. To enter skim mode, tap the page.
  4. At the top right, tap Menu .
  5. Tap Read aloud.

What is the most famous short story written in one day? ›

Shirley Jackson's 1948 story “The Lottery”—arguably the most famous short story in American literature—was written in a single morning.

What is considered the best short story? ›

  • The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.
  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
  • Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin.
  • The Dead by James Joyce.
  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.
  • Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway.
  • Cathedral by Raymond Carver.
Dec 29, 2022

Is the Z Library legal? ›

The law of copyrights is inherently opposed to shadow libraries. As a result, Z-Library is an illegal website. Though their intentions are good, they make works available that are not legally authorized.

How can I read books online for free on Google? ›

Click a title. Under the title, you can read or preview the book: Read: If the book is available on Google Books, click Read free of charge. Preview: If only part of the book is available, click Preview.

Does Amazon have a free reading app? ›

To access the collection, simply log into your Prime account and head to the Prime Reading page. You'll need to download Amazon's free Kindle app, which you can set up on your Kindle, tablet, or cell phone — no Amazon device required.

What famous people have face blindness? ›

Apart from Pitt, there are also several other famous figures who have dealt with prosopagnosia, including legendary primatologist Jane Goodall, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and English actor and comedian Stephen Fry, among numerous others.

Why can't I remember my childhood? ›

The good news is that it's completely normal not to remember much of your early years. It's known as infantile amnesia. This means that even though kids' brains are like little sponges, soaking in all that info and experience, you might take relatively few memories of it into adulthood.

How many names can the average person remember? ›

There's no known limit! If you ask a mnemonist or memory savant to learn a list of names they may remember thousands, tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands with no trouble, just as they can learn lists of thousands of digits.

How do you see peoples hidden Stories? ›

Frankly, if the user has a private account, it makes it difficult to find out whether the story is hidden from you or not. It's a security feature and not a bug. The only option you have is to ask another follower who can see it. Currently, there are no third-party apps that allow you to view a private story.

Where can I find hidden Stories on Facebook? ›

Tap. in the top right of Facebook, then tap your name. Tap below your cover photo. Tap Archive, then tap Story Archive at the top.

How do I open hidden Stories on Facebook? ›

Tap Privacy in the bottom left. Tap to select Friends. Tap Hide Story From . Tap to select the people you'd like to hide your story from, then tap Save.

What age does dementia start? ›

For most people with Alzheimer's — those who have the late-onset variety — symptoms first appear in their mid-60s or later. When the disease develops before age 65, it's considered early-onset Alzheimer's, which can begin as early as a person's 30s, although this is rare.

What part of the brain remembers names? ›

Evidence from neuroimaging and neuropsychology suggests that portions of the anterior temporal lobes (ATLs) play a critical role in proper name retrieval.

What are the early warning signs of dementia? ›

The 10 warning signs of dementia
  • Sign 1: Memory loss that affects day-to-day abilities. ...
  • Sign 2: Difficulty performing familiar tasks. ...
  • Sign 3: Problems with language. ...
  • Sign 4: Disorientation to time and place. ...
  • Sign 5: Impaired judgment. ...
  • Sign 6: Problems with abstract thinking. ...
  • Sign 7: Misplacing things.

What is the number 1 most read book? ›

The Holy Bible is the most read book in the world. In the past 50 years, the Bible has sold over 3.9 billion copies. It is the most recognizable and famous book that has ever been published. The Bible is a collective book with many different preachings based on God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What is the top 1 book in the world? ›

Having sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling is the best-selling book series in history.

What are the 3 most read books in the world? ›

He found that the Bible far outsold any other book, with a whopping 3.9 billion copies sold over the last 50 years. "Quotations from the Works of Mao Tse-tung" came in second with 820 million copies sold, and "Harry Potter" came in third with 400 million copies sold.

Are free textbook sites legal? ›

“Understand that, first and foremost, it's unequivocally illegal to download a textbook from the internet,” Oppenheim said.

Is it legal to read books online for free? ›

Generally, a work in the U.S. is only out of copyright if published prior to 1923 (though possible exemptions exist for foreign texts published before 1923 but made compliant with U.S. copyright law later ). You should research the copyright of any work you wish to read online free.

Do prisoners have to pay to read? ›

Until inmates realize the company charges users every time they use the tablets, including 25 cents a page for emails and 3 cents a minute to read ebooks. By that calculation, most inmates could pay about $15 for each novel or autobiography they attempt to read.

Can my phone read a book to me? ›

You can read books, magazines, and news articles or listen to music in Google Play using a screen reader. You can read books, magazines, and news articles or listen to music in Google Play using the TalkBack screen reader. Learn how to turn on TalkBack.

Can wattpad read to me? ›

Yes, there is text-to-speech functionality on Wattpad. If you want to listen to a story through audio rather than having to sit down and read, you can find stories in Wattpad that have TTS enabled and listen on the go.

Are Google stories worth it? ›

Google Web Stories help your site or brand or product or anything related to rank higher in the overall google search results. This initially leads to great SEO engagement and good ROI to your brand. They are another way to grow traffic to your website and help build your business.

What is the most read book in 2022? ›

Goodreads Most Read Books of 2022
  • It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover.
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
  • Verity by Colleen Hoover.
  • The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood.
  • Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover.
  • Book Lovers by Emily Henry.
  • Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover.
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.
Jan 10, 2023

What is most sold book in the world? ›

The best-selling book of all time is the Christian Bible.

What is the most sold fiction book? ›

25 Best-Selling Books of All-Time
  • #1 – Don Quixote (500 million copies sold) ...
  • #2 – A Tale of Two Cities (200 million copies sold) ...
  • #3 – The Lord of the Rings (150 million copies sold) ...
  • #4 – The Little Prince (142 million copies sold) ...
  • #5 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (107 million copies sold)

Where can I read good short stories? ›

Where to Find Free Short Stories Online
  • Narrative Magazine. Narrative Magazine is a free space for readers to enjoy some of the best short stories, essays, and poetry written by both established and emerging writers. ...
  • The New Yorker. ...
  • Electric Literature. ...
  • Wattpad. ...
  • Granta. ...
  • Tor.com. ...
  • Lightspeed Magazine. ...
  • American Short Fiction.
Oct 7, 2019

What is the most read story book? ›

What Are the Most Read Books In the World?
  • The Harry Potter Series. ...
  • Animal Farm. ...
  • The Lord of The Rings. ...
  • The Alchemist. ...
  • Gone With the Wind.

Who is the most famous short story writer? ›

Ernest Hemingway, American novelist and short-story writer, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

What is a 100 word short story called? ›

Drabble. Drabble is a story of exactly 100 words (not including the title). Just because the form is short doesn't mean you can skimp on the basics of a good story.

What stories are in 50 great short stories? ›

Examples of the fifty stories included are: The Garden Party by Katherine Mansfield, The Three-Day Blow by Ernest Hemingway, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe, The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck, That Evening Sun by William Faulkner, Thrawn Janet by Robert Louis Stevenson, ...

Is Google Web stories free? ›

Google Web Stories is open source and free.

Can I read online for free? ›

Many sites that offer free ebooks from the public domain use the titles created and uploaded to Project Gutenberg. Currently, there are over 60,000 public domain books in the catalog. If you're looking for great classic books, Project Gutenberg is the best destination to explore.

Where can I read stories on Google? ›

Use the new Google Books
  • Go to Google Books.
  • Search for any book.
  • Click the book title.
  • At the top left, click Try it now.

Are there any free stories? ›

No, the app is not completely free on the App Store.

Which website can I read stories? ›

The 10 Best Short Story Sites to Read Flash Fiction Online
  • Electric Lit.
  • 365 Tomorrows.
  • East of the Web.
  • The New Yorker.
  • Fictionaut.
  • Flash Fiction Online.
  • Wattpad.
  • 3:AM Magazine.
Sep 15, 2021

Are web stories worth it? ›

Google Web Stories help your site or brand or product or anything related to rank higher in the overall google search results. This initially leads to great SEO engagement and good ROI to your brand. They are another way to grow traffic to your website and help build your business.

Is Amazon reading free? ›

Amazon's reading services, such as Prime Reading, Amazon Original Stories, and Amazon First Reads, allow customers to discover new books and authors—at no additional cost to their Prime membership.

How can I legally read a book for free? ›

5 easy (and totally legal!) ways to read books online for free
  1. Open Library. ...
  2. Project Gutenberg. ...
  3. Read.gov. ...
  4. Google Books. ...
  5. Hoopla and OverDrive.
Jan 8, 2018

What is the number 1 selling book? ›

Having sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling is the best-selling book series in history.

Why are some books free on Google? ›

Some Books on Google Play are completely free of digital rights management - they are either free public-domain books or the rights holder has chosen to provide their readers with full access to the content. In these cases, you will be able to download DRM-free ePubs or PDFs.


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