Book reviews

22 Great Short Stories

22 Great Short Stories, Unabridged

My rating: ★★★✫✫ 3/5. I highly recommend it.

I read this book for the Back to the Classics 2016 challenge, in the short stories category.

Two years ago I installed in my computer something called overdrive, an application offered at the library site that allows you to listen to or read audio and digital books. But I barely used it (I don’t need more reading from the big screen).

But I have met that application now, with a smart phone, and it’s my new best friend. Some like to listen to music, but I prefer listening to books (not too dense or too difficult books) or podcasts sometimes, while I do routinely chores around the house.

I picked the 12 books for the Back to the Classics, 2016 categories, but, if you know me, you’d know I change the selections all the time. When I saw this opportunity for this audio of many short stories, some by authors I knew, many by unknown authors, I plugged my earphones and started to listen.

These are the 22 stories and some of my comments. (Before that, I have to say that many of them were familiar. I know as a young person, in Spain, I once took a short story writing course, and I also know I used to read many short stories at the time. Short story is a strange genre. I still cannot decide if I like it or not. I think it suits a young mind that wants to be done with something fast and move on into something else. But I also admit that sometime while listening to all these stories, I started to like the surprise of a new one. Some were longer, which I also liked. It was like eating an assortment box of chocolates.


  • “Reginald on House Parties” by Saki
    This one is a short one, sort of a commentary. I loved it. I had not heard about Saki before.
  • “The Sphinx Without a Secret” by Oscar Wilde
    I knew this tale. It’s a story about curiosity killed the cat.
  • Tobermory” by Saki
    One of my favorite tales. I have read it before, but it’s fascinating, the eternal topic of teaching animals to talk.
  • “On Being Idle” by Jerome K. Jerome
    I knew Jerome K. Jerome from his Three Men in a Boat, To Say Nothing of the Dog, his humor is brilliant. This is just a short vignette “On Being Idle”.
  • “For Better or Worse” by W.W. Jacobs
    Another of my favorite tales. It’s like Robinson Crusoe with a wife, and coming back after 35 years stranded in an island.
  • “The Model Millionaire” by Oscar Wilde
    A reminder than Oscar Wilde can be positive and upbeat.
  • “The Garden of Truth” by E. Nesbit
    Very teenager, romantic, and intriguing story. Reminds me a bit of Wilkie Collins.
  • “The Cat That Walked by Himself” (This story I knew and loved, it’s by Kipling, and included in his Just So Stories.
  • and “The Girl from Arles” by Alphonse DaudetTragic, legend like, dark. This one reminded me of The Perfume, by Suskind
  • “Mr. & Mrs. Dove” by Katherine Mansfield
    I remember this story. I’m saying that a lot. It’s a wonderful feeling to have ‘re-read’ these short stories, because I got reacquainted with this one, for example, which makes me so happy to read. It’s about what makes us love a person, and what person is the ‘right one’ for marriage.
  • “Georgie Porgie” by Rudyard Kipling
    Very familiar, it’s as if I have read this story inside a longer book. This tale made me think of some of the love stories in Don Quijote. It’s one of the saddest ones for me to read.
  • “Caterpillars” by E.F. Benson
    Creepy, grin, and very Poe like, very Dracula like, however fascinating
  • “Lost Hearts” by M.R. James
    Gulp. This was, along with the two by Poe, the goriest one in the selection. Eeek.
  • “Ship to Tarshish” by John Buchan
    MY FAVORITE. I recognized it too, and this time I truly enjoyed it. I love stories of people who leave their countries to become better, and who truly learn from their adventures and perils in life. I relate to this man’s fortunes and misfortunes, even though his life was different. The story shows that, even if you missed great opportunities in your upbringing, and no matter what your limitations of character and ability are, you can be a person of principles, honor, and have a purpose in your life.
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
    That’s Poe, a mini Dostowevsky. Crime and a burning consciousness that gives it away.
  • “The Man of the Night” by Edgar WallaceI believe this last group of stories were the ‘dark’ ones, for this is another of those phsychological crime stories.
  • “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    Would you want to be young again?
  • “B 24” by Arthur Conan Doyle
    I’m still shaking my head in disbelief. In a capsule, sin has that downfall cascading effect. Resist temptation, my dears.
  • “Pat Hobby & Orson Welles” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    This one made me laugh. “I’m not Orson Welles! ha ha ha”.
  • “Mad” by Guy de Maupassant
    This one is THE UGLIEST one, but the one I believe I needed to read the most. I’ve read many of his short stories when I was young, and I’ve never fully liked them. (They are all sinister, and have very unhappy endings). But I want to be able to disconnect a bit emotionally, or to suspend my immediate accusatory reaction, and dwell in the fact that he uncovered a way of seeing things so different to me, something secret and deep in the mind of a fictional character, and maybe this is, after all, what being mad is, or could be.
  • “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe
    Wait a second, Mr. Poe, didn’t you just write this story before? LOL. This is a variation of the first story. We all know what’s going to happen. I’m also trying to stay away from the easy slaughtering and chopping of the story, and paying attention to the slaughtering and chopping IN the story! There may be some cathartic value in the repetition. It’s very reminiscent of Blue Beard.
  • “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs
    This one had a talisman, the classic three wishes, the moral “be careful what you wish for”, and mixed with a Dickensian flair.
I can see the value of having soaked up into 22 varied stories. I can see them in light of their neighboring ones, and I can appreciate the variety of places, topics, styles, beauty and suspense, and traditions (I have no knowledge of literature and traditions, but I’m sure that these authors represent different “schools or periods”). I believe short stories are to writers, what warming up and preparatory exercises are to athletes. It’s a difficult genre, the limitations have to be played in your favor. I prefer Galdós longest title to one of his beginning novellas (almost like a long short story), but in the short story, authors show who they are. Some authors stayed there, and develop the short story genre as their full art medium. I have a distinctive problem, the more I read, the more I want to read, the wider I want to read… and then I also wish to re-read! Oh, dear! This is all for now. I’m glad for the opportunity to have read these short stories. Thanks, Karen, for the challenge category.

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