10 Short Stories You Need to Read Before You Graduate

By Tiffany McIntyre

Short stories have a way of enlightening us quickly and to-the-point. They leave readers wondering how such a small tale can provoke so much thought and emotion. Short stories have the power to show only one scene, then leave it to us to create the film. Many have a “lonely voice,” an element that author Frank O’Connor proposed, because the protagonist of the story is usually isolated due to constrained length and minimal characters. This concept forces the reader to ponder and explore the internal idea of human loneliness. Of course, this is merely a theory. You can decide whether or not you agree after reading these books.

Although there is a seemingly endless amount of fantastic short stories out there, I chose ten of my favorites that are must-reads before you graduate! They include sci-fi, realistic fiction, non-fiction essays, and a short novel. These various stories deal with internal crisis, gendered issues, and searches for companionship in their own world of minimal content. Enjoy!

  1. The Gingerbread Girl by Stephen King is a chilling story about a woman who longs for isolation. She searches for it in the same place that a man, who feels he needs to assert his power on anyone who comes around, chooses to reside.
  2. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates will leave you in chills, questioning differences between constructed reality and the paranormal.
  3. The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin shows a close-up perspective of marriage, isolation, and freedom, and what each means when combined with death.
  4. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Stetson portrays the effects of a women having no control, which leads to suffering, pain, and a twist ending.
  5. The Catbird Seat by James Thurber is a spin on an office setting that will leave you wondering if you really do know the people who surround you.
  6. Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien is a sweet and innocent tale about a dog that gets turned into a toy and sets off on adventures. It is a short novel, but a great read to remind yourself about the magic of childhood.
  7. Eleven by Sandra Cisneros is a melancholy text and a reminder that we sometimes forget we all have a child within us.
  8. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway constructs the themes of marriage, betrayal, and selfishness. It also sheds a light on the implications of the inability to see the truth of gendered and selfish behavior.
  9. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is a collection of short stories that will leave you in tears. A must-read.
  10. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit is a composition of essays. As my all-time favorite read, it will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will light a fire inside of you.

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