Short stories are a wonderful medium for telling delightful stories. Many great authors have penned great short stories that take readers into strange mind and foreign world. Here is the list of 24 best short story books of all times.

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

Best Short Story Books Of All Times

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe is among one of the best short story books of all time. Poe’s masterpiece is a tale of a man’s haunted conscience. In the story the unnamed narrator tries to convince readers of his sanity, as his paranoia worsens. The Tell-Tale Heart by Poe is a grotesque tale of an unnamed man who commits a brutal and unprovoked murder of an old man with whom he lives. He disposes of the body by dismembering and burying it beneath the floorboards of the residence they share. Soon he caves in to madness and self-destruction in the after-effects of guilt.

Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino

Best Short Story Books Of All Times

Cosmicomic by Italo Calvino is a collection of short stories that explore science and the fate of the earth. Topics like evolution, the distance of the moon from the earth, life as a mollusk, the last dinosaurs, messages from space are written in ironic and imaginative treatment. The characters in the story are made of mathematical formulae and simple cellular structures. These characters in Cosmicomics can disport themselves among galaxies, experience the solidification of planets, move from aquatic to terrestrial existence, play games with hydrogen atoms, and even have a love life.

Big Two-Hearted River by Ernest Hemingway

Best Short Story Books Of All Times

Big Two-Hearted River by Ernest Hemingway is a short story that follows Nick Adams on a journey into the Michigan backwoods. It is also the journey into Nick’s war-damaged psyche, and his unwillingness to fish the deep water of evocation of trauma. Nick Adams is a recurring protagonist in Hemingway’s stories. In Big Two-Hearted River, Nick is trying to heal himself using the two powers, solitude and nature.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson


The Lottery by Shirley Jackson is an unforgettable masterpiece and for sure among one of the best short story books. The story is fueled by tension that creeps up on readers slowly without any clear indication of why. In ‘The Lottery’ a crowd of towns people gathers to choose numbers for an annual lottery in the main square of a New England village on a sunny June morning, and it ends with one of the most unpleasant surprises in fiction. When this story was printed many readers wrote letters expressing their admiration, disgust, and concern if the gruesome story was true.

Araby by James Joyce

Best Short Story Books Of All Times

Araby by James Joyce is part of a short story book collection ‘Dubliners’. The stories in Dubliners are divided in four stages of life. In Araby a boy realizes his feelings for a neighbor’s sister. The story follows the turmoil and humiliation of adolescence in a boy’s lonely night-time journey across Dublin to buy a gift for the girl he loves. Araby is a coming-of-age story, as the excitement of new love clashes with the annoyance and responsibilities of adulthood.

The Sound Of Thunder by Ray Bradbury


A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury is a time-travel story of five men who take a trip back in time to hunt a dinosaur and they end up changing the past. This science fiction short story deals with some themes as the concept of Chaos Theory (popularly known as the Butterfly Effect).

A Horse And Two Goats by R. K. Narayan


A Horse And Two by R. K. Narayan is a portrayal of how humans have been misunderstanding each other for as long as we have existed. The story is about an encounter between a Tamil-speaking villager and an English-speaking New Yorker. Their conversations are amusing yet moving. The story explores the clash between Eastern and Western culture. The story tells readers about the degree to which misunderstanding is an unavoidable part of human interaction.

A Perfect Day For Bananafish by J. D. Salinger


J D Salinger’s A Perfect Day for Bananafish is part of a short story collection titled ‘Nine Stories.’ A Perfect Day for Bananfish is J. D. Salinger’s one of the most famous short stories. The story is a shocking and magnificent observation dialogue between adults and children. The story is sad and quietly tragic. As it is a story by Salinger there are themes of alienation and focus on the innocence of children.

The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde

24 Best Short Story Books Of All Times

The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde is a story for children. The story is set in a town where poor people suffer and there are a lot of miseries. A swallow who is left behind after his flock flew off to Egypt for the winter, meets the statue of the late ‘Happy Prince’. The Happy Prince has in reality has never experienced true sorrow, as he lived in a palace where sorrow is not allowed to enter. As the Happy Prince watches people suffering in poverty from his tall monument, he asks the swallow to take the ruby from his hilt, the sapphires from his eyes, and the golden leaf covering his body to give to the poor to help them. The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde is a story of friendship, love, and a willingness to part with one’s riches.

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

24 Best Short Story Books Of All Times

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami is a short story collection. The collection comprises of seven tales of men who find themselves alone for various reasons. Each story is centered around the concept of longing or loneliness. The seven tales follow the lives of men who, in their own way, find themselves alone. In the story there are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles. All these things are entwined together to create beautiful stories.

Happy Endings by Margaret Atwood

24 Best Short Story Books Of All Times

Mrgaret Atwood’s short story Happy Endings includes six different stories and counted among the best short story books. Stories are labeled A to F,. Each quickly summarizes the lives of its characters, that eventually lead up to death. The names of characters reoccur throughout the stories, and the stories reference each other (for example, “everything continues as in ‘A'”). The book challenges narrative conventions. Happy Endings is a fun, thought-provoking story that starts with a man meeting a woman, and then offers variation of what happens next.

Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy

24 Best Short Story Books Of All Times

Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy is a part of the collection of What Men Live By, and Other Tales. The story is a moral fable. It is about a king who wants to find the answers to what he considers are the three most important questions in life to become a great ruler. The three important questions were: When is the best time to do each thing? Who are the most important people to work with? and What is the most important thing to do at all times?

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings by Gabriel García Márquez

24 Best Short Story Books Of All Times

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings is a short story book by Gabriel García Márquez. The story begins with a couple, Pelayo and Elisenda, when they find an old man in their courtyard on a stormy afternoon. They are surprised when they see enormous wings attached to the body of the old man as he struggles to get up from the mud. Their neighbor comes over and lets them know that the old man is an angel. Pelayo locks the angel in a chicken coop overnight as too many people come to visit. The couple decides to charge an entrance fee to see the angel. The story describes the community’s demeaning of the old man to a freak and their fascination with him that is replaced with a new spectacle. It is a beautiful, tragic and hopeful story.


The Haunted House and Other Stories is collection of 18 short stories by Virginia Woolf. The book was published posthumously, produced by her husband Leonard Woolf. In this collection Virginia Woolf’s experiments with style are more evident in her short stories. This a complete collection of Virginia Woolf’s short fiction. It is a captivating and brilliant introduction for readers who are new to Woolf.

To Build A Fire by Jack London


To Build a Fire by Jack London is one of the most beloved and the best short story books. It is a heart-breaking story set in the vast wintry landscape of the Yukon Territory in the north. The book is regarded as one of the greatest adventures ever written. To Build A Fire is about a man who survives in the extreme cold along with his dog. There are two versions of this story. One was published in 1902 and the other in 1908. The story written in 1908 has often been named as classic, while the 1902 story is less well known.

Symbols And Signs by Vladimir Nabokov


Symbols and Signs by Vladimir Nabokov is one of the great short stories. ‘Signs and Symbols’ is a haunting story of an elderly couple visiting who are visiting their son at a sanatorium. Their son is offended or frightened by anything in the gadget line, and therefore his parents chose a dainty and innocent basket with ten different fruit jellies in ten little jars for him and so the story begins.

Interpreter Of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri 


Interpreter Of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is a collection of nine short stories. Jhumpa Lahiri received the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for this book. In this book, the characters navigate between the Indian traditions they have inherited and the confound new world. The characters in these stories seek love beyond the barriers of culture and generations.

In The Penal Colony by Franz Kafka


In Franz Kafka’s In the Penal Colony, the story is set in an unnamed penal colony. Just like in Kafka’s other writings, the narrator in this story is detached or numbed from events that one would normally expect to be horror. In the Penal Colony, the story describes an elaborate torture and execution device that sculpts the sentence of the convicted prisoner on his skin in a script before letting him die. This all happens during 12 hours. As the story progresses, the reader learns more about the machine, including its origin, and original justification.

Going To Meet The Man by James Baldwin


Going to Meet the Man is a collection of eight short stories by James Baldwin. In these eight short stories men and women try to keep their heads above water. Going to Meet the Man is about a southern white deputy sheriff who tries and fails to have sex with his wife. As his wife goes to sleep he talks about the vicious beating he gave a black protestor earlier that day, and returns to a deeper and even darker memory from his childhood: the ritual killing of a black man. After the killing, there was a picnic.

A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O’connor


A Good Man Is Hard To Find is Flannery O’Connor’s most famous and most discussed story. It is a fascinating and comic story about the confrontation of a family with violence and sudden death. O’Connor in this story combines comedy, violence, and religious concerns that characterize her fiction.

The Body by Stephen King

Best Short Story Books Of All Times

The Body by Stephen King is a coming-of-age story set in 1960 in a fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. The story is about Ray Brower, a boy from a nearby town, who has disappeared. A twelve-year-old Gordie Lachance and his three friends set out on a quest to find his body along the railroad tracks. On their journey, Gordie, Chris Chambers, Teddy Duchamp, and Vern Tessio come to terms with death and the harsh truths of growing up in a small town that doesn’t offer much of a future. The Body is an exploration of the loneliness and isolation of young adulthood.

Story Of Your Life by Ted Chiang

24 Best Short Story Books Of All Times

Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang is a science-fiction short story. In the story a linguist has to work with the military to communicate with alien lifeforms after twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world. The alien language challenges perception of time and reality.

Eve’s Diary by Mark Twain

Best Short Story Books Of All Times

Eve’s Diary is a funny short story by Mark Twain. In Eve’s Diary Mark Twain’s take on the battle of the sexes is funny and brilliant as he writes the story from Eve’s perspective and then follows-up from Adam’s.

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

24 Best Short Story Books Of All Times

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” is a witty satire short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about aging. It is the story of Benjamin Button who is born in 1860 as an old man and mysteriously begins aging backward. In the beginning of his life he is old, but as he grows younger he goes to war, runs a business, falls in love, has children, goes to college and school, and, as his mind begins to devolve, he attends kindergarten and eventually returns to the care of his nurse.