Had she not passed away at the too-young age of 39 from lupus, today would have been legendary Southern Gothic author Flannery O’Connor’s 87th birthday. To celebrate her legacy of pitch-perfect short stories and razor-sharp wit, we’ve collected a few of our favorite works from some of the best short story writers of all time, all available online — though we can’t promise reading them that way will be as satisfying as hefting a huge tome of collected stories. This is not meant to be a definitive list of the best short stories in the world, but merely a celebration of the form and a collection of ten of our many favorites, limited to those that we could track down online, to make your Sunday afternoon a little better. Click through to read ten stories from some of literature’s greats, and link us to your own favorites in the comments!
“A Good Man is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’Connor
Few short stories have stuck with us as much as this one, which is probably O’Connor’s most famous work — and with good reason. The Misfit is one of the most alarming serial killers we’ve ever met, all the more so for his politeness, and the story’s moral is so striking and terrifying that — whether you subscribe to the religious undertones or not — a reader is likely to finish and begin to reexamine their entire existence. Or at least we did, the first time we read it.