30 Free, Crowdsourced Short Stories To Convert the Most Skeptical Reader

Yesterday I posted a question on Facebook:

Writers and readers: If you could give someone who has never read a short story one short story to start with, with the aim of getting her to fall in love with the form, what would you give her?

Posted by Rachel Lyon on Monday, November 2, 2015

An astounding number of people replied, with some really terrific answers. I spent some time searching for all of these stories. Not all of them are freely available on the old internet, of course—but many of them are. Below is a list of the ones I was able to find, with links; wherever possible, I linked to PDFs. 

2 small disclaimers: (1) Many of these have been transcribed—poorly. There are lots of typos, which drive me crazy but are a small price to pay for a great story. (2) If you or one of your generous friends don't/doesn't have New Yorker/Paris Review accounts, you won't be able to access the ones in those archives. I recommend finding a generous friend.

  1. Sherman Alexie, "What You Pawn I Will Redeem"
  2. Donald Barthelme, "I Bought a Little City"
  3. Donald Barthelme, "The School"
  4. Algernon Blackwood, "The Willows"
  5. Ray Bradbury, "The Veldt"
  6. Raymond Carver, "Cathedral"
  7. John Cheever, "The Swimmer"
  8. Roald Dahl, "Man from the South"
  9. Jennifer Egan, "Why China?"
  10. Harlan Ellison, "I Have No Mouth and Must Scream"
  11. Harlan Ellison, "Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktock Man"
  12. F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Cut-Glass Bowl"
  13. Amy Hempel, "In the Cemetery where Al Jolson Is Buried"
  14. E.T.A. Hoffmann, "The Sandman"
  15. James Joyce, "Araby"
  16. Franz Kafka, "A Message from the Emperor"
  17. Franz Kafka, "Before the Law"
  18. Jhumpa Lahiri, "The Third and Final Continent"
  19. Jhumpa Lahiri, "This Blessed House"
  20. Alice McDermott, "Enough"
  21. Lorrie Moore, "How To Become a Writer"
  22. Alice Munro, "Face"
  23. Alice Munro, "Runaway"
  24. Tom Perrotta, "You Start To Live"
  25. Mary Robison, "Yours"
  26. J. D. Salinger, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish"
  27. George Saunders, "The 400-Pound CEO" 
  28. Matt Sumell, "Toast"
  29. Kurt Vonnegut, "The Big Space Fuck"
  30. Tobias Wolff, "Bullet in the Brain"

Thank you to everyone who contributed!