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Blog – Posted on Friday, Apr 19
10 interesting short stories that could change the way you think.
Some people see short stories as somehow lesser than novels: charcoal sketches compared to the massive oil canvases. But this medium, when written with great skill and care , is capable of having just as great an impact on readers as any 300-page tome. In just a few pages, great short stories can just as effectively make you cry, laugh, or even think…
In this post, we’re listing some of the most interesting short stories that will challenge how you think or feel.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the number of great short stories out there, you can also take our 30-second quiz below to narrow it down quickly and get a personalized short story recommendation 😉
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1. "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut
First published in 1961, Vonnegut’s satirical story imagines a future in which America’s quest for egalitarianism has resulted in laws preventing anyone from being “better than average.” Our title character is born strong, handsome and intelligent — and in order to make him equal to others, he is given golf-style “handicaps.” He has to wear glasses that make it hard for him to see (and that give him headaches). He has to wear weighted clothes and a rubber mask to counteract his strength and good looks.
The US Declaration of Independence states as a self-evident truth that “all Men are created equal,” but in Vonnegut’s story, that idea is extrapolated to an absurd degree — offering some answers that may be uncomfortable to us.
2. "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang
Better known as the basis for the film Arrival , this award-winning story from Ted Chiang is, in the best way possible, Independence Day for grown-ups. It’s narrated by Louise Banks, a linguist tasked with communicating with aliens who have arrived on Earth. As the story progresses, we learn that the aliens don’t experience time sequentially (one event at a time) but all at once — they are as aware of the future as they are of the present. This insight forces Louise to face some heavy questions, such as: if there are creatures who already know the future, what does that mean for free will?
A mysterious circus terrifies an audience for one extraordinary performance before disappearing into the night . . .
Two teenage boys crash a party and meet the girls of their dreams--and nightmares . . .
In a Hugo Award-winning story, a great detective must solve a most unsettling royal murder in a strangely altered Victorian England . . .
These marvelous creations and more showcase the unparalleled invention and storytelling brilliance--and the terrifyingly dark and entertaining wit--of the incomparable Neil Gaiman. By turns delightful, disturbing, and diverting, \'Fragile Things\' is a gift of literary enchantment from one of the most original writers of our time. Contents: vi • From 'Little Nemo in Slumberland' • (1907) • interior artwork by Winsor McCay xiii • Introduction (Fragile Things) • (2006) • essay by Neil Gaiman 1 • A Study in Emerald • (2003) • novelette by Neil Gaiman 27 • The Fairy Reel • (2004) • poem by Neil Gaiman (variant of The Faery Reel) 29 • October in the Chair • (2002) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 45 • The Hidden Chamber • (2005) • poem by Neil Gaiman 49 • Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire • (2004) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman (variant of Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire) 65 • The Flints of Memory Lane • (1997) • essay by Neil Gaiman 69 • Closing Time • (2003) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 83 • Going Wodwo • (2002) • poem by Neil Gaiman 85 • Bitter Grounds • (2003) • novelette by Neil Gaiman 109 • Other People • (2001) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 113 • Keepsakes and Treasures: A Love Story • (1999) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 133 • Good Boys Deserve Favours • (1995) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 139 • The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch • (1998) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 159 • Strange Little Girls • (2001) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 165 • Harlequin Valentine • (1999) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 177 • Locks • (1999) • poem by Neil Gaiman 181 • The Problem of Susan • (2004) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 191 • Instructions • (2000) • poem by Neil Gaiman 195 • How Do You Think It Feels? • (1998) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 205 • My Life • (2002) • poem by Neil Gaiman 209 • Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot • (1998) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 219 • Feeders and Eaters • (2002) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 229 • Diseasemaker's Croup • (2003) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 233 • In the End • (1996) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 235 • Goliath • (1998) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 249 • Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky • (2002) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 255 • How to Talk to Girls at Parties • (2006) • shortstory by Neil Gaiman 271 • The Day the Saucers Came • (2006) • poem by Neil Gaiman 273 • Sunbird • (2005) • novelette by Neil Gaiman 297 • Inventing Aladdin • (2003) • poem by Neil Gaiman 301 • The Monarch of the Glen • [American Gods] • (2003) • novelette by Neil Gaiman 357 • Credits (Fragile Things) • (2006) • essay by uncredited
3. "Other People" by Neil Gaiman
This fan favorite from the American Gods author takes its title from Sartre’s No Exit — a play set in an afterlife where three strangers are trapped in a room together. Over the course of their increasingly antagonistic interaction, they discover that “hell is other people.” Gaiman’s short story gives this concept a sharp twist and focuses on the idea of guilt and punishment, presenting only two characters: a man and his mysterious, demonic torturer.
For a treat, why not check out this video of the author reading the “Other People” in front of a live audience?
4. "In a Grove" by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
A samurai has been found murdered in a bamboo grove. So opens the best-known work from Japan’s undisputed master of the short story (the country’s leading literary prize is named after him, don’t ya know?). Through three conflicting witness accounts — from a woodcutter, a bounty hunter, and an old woman — the story raises the important question of subjectivity when it comes to how we perceive truth.
Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 film adaptation, Rashomon, has since become a byword for stories told by multiple unreliable narrators — but this is the story that started it all. Now the very device of retelling a story from multiple perspectives has become a trope in its own right, appearing in just about every cop show under the sun.
5. "Gooseberries" by Anton Chekhov
No list of short stories would be complete without an entry from the Russian master. In “Gooseberries,” which acclaimed short story writer (and Booker-winning novelist) George Saunders cites as a personal favorite , two friends on a hunting trip get rained on and take refuge at a friend’s house. One of the men, Ivan, relates in disgust how his brother’s lifelong dream was to own a small estate and eat the gooseberries that he would grow outside. Ivan’s anecdote soon devolves into a full-on screed about how the pursuit of personal happiness is selfish and disgusting. And thanks to Chekhov’s skills as a writer, you might find yourself agreeing with Ivan’s points. Not exactly a comfort read...
6. "The Swimmer" by John Cheever
Once called “the Chekhov of the suburbs,” John Cheever’s most compelling works deal with middle-class struggles. He was from a generation that grew up during the Great Depression but matured into America’s post-war boom, with its picket fences, Coupe de Villes, and backyard swimming pools. And it’s those very pools that factor into Cheever’s most famous story.
Ned Merrill is a respected member of his society in an affluent neighborhood. One summer’s day, while lounging by his friend’s pool, he spontaneously decides to get home by passing through every single swimming pool between there and his own house. The story quickly grows surreal and dark. But under the strangeness of the conceit is the fraught connection between wealth and happiness in this classic story of suburban ennui.
And… thanks to the internet, you can hear the author read the story in his peculiar New England accent .
7. "A Small Good Thing" by Raymond Carver
One of the many fantastic stories in Carver’s Cathedral, “ A Small Good Thing” finds a young mother and father in a period of shock when their son is left unconscious and after a hit-and-run. To make matters worse, they keep getting calls in the middle of the night from a shopping mall baker telling them to pick up their son’s birthday cake — a cake that might never be eaten.
While it’s true that a lot of short stories are smarter than they are humane, the final act of “A Small Good Thing” delivers a graceful moment of emotional truth: one that will likely stick with you for a while.
8. "The Second Bakery Attack" by Haruki Murakami
And, while we’re on the subject of bakeries, let’s dip our toe into this story from Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes , which also has a lot in common with a few other entries in this list. A couple of newlyweds in Tokyo wake up hungry in the middle of the night and decide to break into a bakery — a plan that goes awry as they eventually raid a McDonald’s.
Elements of surreal humor are mixed with discussions of free will vs. determinism in a blend that will delight fans of Murakami’s stranger works . If you grew up with Reading Rainbow , perhaps you will enjoy this reading of the story by LeVar Burton .
9. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce
A plantation owner and supporter of the Confederacy stands on a bridge, awaiting his execution by Union soldiers. Recalling the circumstances that led him to this point, the narrative jumps into stream-of-conscious mode as he makes his daring escape and begins his journey back to his wife and kids.
A 1962 French adaptation of Bierce’s short story was aired in America as an episode of The Twilight Zone , which may give you a hint of what’s to come at the end of the tale.
10. "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry
If you’ve reached this point (and have been dutifully reading each story as they appear), then you deserve a nice, uplifting palate cleanser. So many short stories have twist endings that find our characters in awful situations that they had never expected — which is why this classic from O. Henry is such a delight. The premise is simple: it’s Christmas time and a young husband and wife are determined to find the perfect present for each other, despite their meager means.
Named after the author, The O. Henry Award is given each year to short stories of exceptional merit — just one of the many short story contests that have been established to encourage new writers to pursue this medium.
Looking to try your hand at writing your own stories? Why not give yourself a head start by using one of our pre-selected short story ideas . Or broaden your reading horizons by picking up one of the 100 Best Graphic Novels !
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43 of the Most Iconic Short Stories in the English Language
From washington irving to kristen roupenian.
Last year, I put together this list of the most iconic poems in the English language ; it’s high time to do the same for short stories. But before we go any further, you may be asking: What does “iconic” mean in this context? Can a short story really be iconic in the way of a poem, or a painting, or Elvis?
Well, who knows, but for our purposes, “iconic” means that the story has somehow wormed its way into the general cultural consciousness—a list of the best short stories in the English language would look quite different than the one below. (Also NB that in this case we’re necessarily talking about the American cultural consciousness, weird and wiggly as it is.) When something is iconic, it is a highly recognizable cultural artifact that can be used as a shorthand—which often means it has been referenced in other forms of media. You know, just like Elvis. (So for those of you heading to the comments to complain that these stories are “the usual suspects”—well, exactly.) An iconic short story may be frequently anthologized , which usually means frequently read in classrooms, something that can lead to cultural ubiquity—but interestingly, the correlation isn’t perfect. For instance, Joyce’s “Araby” is anthologized more often, but for my money “The Dead” is more iconic . Film adaptations and catchy, reworkable titles help. But in the end, for better or for worse, you know it when you see it. Which means that, like anything else, it all depends on your point of view—icon status is (like most of the ways we evaluate art) highly subjective.
So, having acknowledged that there’s no real way to make this list, but because this is what we’re all here to do, here are some of the most iconic short stories for American readers in the English language—and a few more that deserve to be more iconic than they are.
Washington Irving, “Rip Van Winkle” (1819) and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820) I agonized over whether I should pick “Rip Van Winkle” or “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” from Irving’s oeuvre. Both have many, many adaptations to their name and are so ubiquitous as to have drifted into the folklore realm. The latter certainly has more memorable recent adaptations, but the former is the only one with a bridge named after it . Ah, screw it, we’ll count them both.
Edgar Allan Poe, “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843) Poe’s early stream-of-consciousness horror story, unreliable narrator and heart beating under the floorboards and all, is certainly one of the most adapted—and even more often referenced —short stories in popular culture, and which may or may not be the source for all of the hundreds of stories in which a character is tormented by a sound only they can hear. (Still not quite as ubiquitous as Poe himself , though . . .)
Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (1853) Once, while I was walking in Brooklyn, carrying my Bartleby tote bag , a woman in an SUV pulled over (on Atlantic Avenue, folks) to excitedly wave at me and yell “Melville! That’s Melville!” Which is all you really need to know about that .
Ambrose Bierce, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (1890) I will leave it to Kurt Vonnegut, who famously wrote , “I consider anybody a twerp who hasn’t read the greatest American short story, which is “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” by Ambrose Bierce. It isn’t remotely political. It is a flawless example of American genius, like “Sophisticated Lady” by Duke Ellington or the Franklin stove.”
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892) Odds are this was the first overtly Feminist text you ever read, at least if you’re of a certain age; it’s become a stand-in for the idea of women being driven insane by the patriarchy—and being ignored by doctors, who deem them “hysterical.” This is another one with lots of adaptations to its name, including a memorable episode of The Twilight Zone , which concludes: “Next time you’re alone, look quickly at the wallpaper, and the ceiling, and the cracks on the sidewalk. Look for the patterns and lines and faces on the wall. Look, if you can, for Sharon Miles, visible only out of the corner of your eye or… in the Twilight Zone.”
Henry James, “The Turn of the Screw” (1898) Technically a novella, but discussed enough as a story that I’ll include it here (same goes for a couple of others on this list, including “The Metamorphosis”). It has, as a work of literature, inspired a seemingly endless amount of speculation, criticism, unpacking, and stance-taking. “In comment after comment, article after article, the evidence has been sifted through and judgments delivered,” Brad Leithauser wrote in The New Yorker . Fine, intelligent readers have confirmed the validity of the ghosts (Truman Capote); equally fine and intelligent readers have thunderously established the governess’s madness (Edmund Wilson).” And nothing that inspires so much interpretive interest could escape the many interpretations into other media: films, episodes of television, and much other literature.
Anton Chekhov, “The Lady with the Toy Dog” (1899) Widely acknowledged as one of Chekhov’s best stories, if not the best, and therefore almost no students get through their years at school without reading it. Has been adapted as a film, a ballet, a play, a musical, and most importantly, a Joyce Carol Oates short story.
W. W. Jacobs, “The Monkey’s Paw” (1902) So iconic—be careful what you wish for, is the gist—that you probably didn’t even know it started out as a short story. My favorite version is, of course, the Laurie Anderson song .
O. Henry, “The Gift of the Magi” (1905) According to Wikipedia, there have been 17 different film adaptations of O. Henry’s classic short story about a couple’s thwarted Christmas; the essential format—Della sells her hair to buy Jim a watch chain; Jim sells his watch to buy Della a set of combs—has been referenced and replicated countless times beyond that. I even heard Dax Shepard refer to this story on his podcast the other day, and so I rest my case.
James Joyce, “The Dead” (1914) The last story in Joyce’s collection Dubliners and one of the best short stories ever written; just ask anyone who wanted to have read some Joyce but couldn’t crack Ulysses . (Or anyone who could crack Ulysses too.) And let’s not forget the John Huston movie starring Anjelica Huston as Gretta.
Franz Kafka, “The Metamorphosis” (1915) Everyone has to read this in school, at some point—which is probably the reason why it’s been parodied, referenced, and adapted many times in just about every format . And why not? What could be more universal than the story of the man who wakes up to find himself transformed into an enormous insect?
Richard Connell, “The Most Dangerous Game” aka “The Hounds of Zaroff” (1924) “The most popular short story ever written in English” is obviously the one about aristocrats hunting people. Widely adapted , but one of my favorite versions is the episode of Dollhouse in which a Richard Connell (no relation except the obvious) hunts Echo with a bow.
Ernest Hemingway, “The Killers” (1927) I was tempted to include “Hills Like White Elephants” because of the number of people forced to read it to learn about dialogue (happily, there are other options ), but “The Killers,” while less often anthologized, is more influential overall, and gave us not only two full length film adaptations and a Tarkovsky short but Tobias Wolff’s “Bullet in the Brain,” which I do think is a very good story to learn from, if not for dialogue, then for story-making.
Zora Neale Hurston, “The Gilded Six-Bits” (1933) Hurston is most famous for Their Eyes Were Watching God , but those who know will tell you that this story of love, marriage, betrayal, and love again—which was also made into a 2001 film—is a classic, too.
Shirley Jackson, “The Lottery” (1948) The short story that launched a thousand letters to The New Yorker —or if not a thousand , then at least “a torrent . . . the most mail the magazine had ever received in response to a work of fiction.” Still taught widely in schools, and still chilling.
J. D. Salinger, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” (1948) The very first story to destroy many a young mind. In a good way, obviously.
Ray Bradbury, “There Will Come Soft Rains” (1950)
Bradbury’s work has thoroughly permeated pop culture; plenty of his stories are widely adapted and referenced, so I could have chosen a few others here (“The Veldt” is my personal favorite). But every year, the image of a smart house going on long after the death of its occupants becomes more chilling and relevant an image; we can’t help but keep going back to it.
Daphne du Maurier, “The Birds” (1952) I know it’s really the Hitchcock film adaptation that’s iconic, but you wouldn’t have the Hitchcock without the du Maurier.
Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” (1953) Another oft-assigned (and oft-argued-over) story, this one with so many title rip-offs .
Elmore Leonard, “Three-Ten to Yuma” (1953) I know, I know, it’s “Fire in the Hole” that gave us Justified , and we’re all so very glad. But “Three-Ten to Yuma” has more name recognition—after all, it was adapted into two separate and very good films, the former of which (1957) actually created contemporary slang : in Cuba, Americans are called yumas and the United States is La Yuma .
Philip K. Dick, “The Minority Report” (1956) As a whole, Philip K. Dick’s work has had massive influence on literature, film, pop culture, and our cultural attitudes toward technology. Most of his best-known works are novels, but when a short story gets made into a Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise film, you’re basically assuring iconic status right there. (Or at least that’s how it used to work…)
James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues” (1957) Baldwin’s best known short story pops up in plenty of anthologies, and can be thanked for being the gateway drug for many budding Baldwin acolytes.
Alan Sillitoe, “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” (1959) Not only is the story itself widely known and read—just ask Rod Blagojevich ( remember him? )—that title has been rewritten and reused thousands of times for varying ends—just ask the reporter who wrote that piece about Blagojevich. Or Adrian Tomine .
John Cheever, “The Swimmer” (1964) Cheever’s most famous story nails something essential about the mid-century American sensibility, and particularly the mid-century American suburbs, which is probably why everyone knows it (it’s also frequently anthologized). Or maybe it’s more about Burt Lancaster’s little shorts ? Either way.
Joyce Carol Oates, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” (1966) Another frequently anthologized and unwaveringly excellent short story; and look, it’s no one’s fault that Laura Dern turns everything she touches iconic.
Toni Cade Bambara, “The Lesson” (1972) Yet another story often assigned in schools (the good ones, anyway), which hopefully means one day we’ll wake up and find out that everyone has read it.
Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (1973) As others have pointed out before me , Le Guin’s most read and most famous short story is almost always chillingly relevant.
Donald Barthelme, “The School” (1974) This one might only be iconic for writers, but considering it’s one of the best short stories ever written (according to me), I simply couldn’t exclude it.
Jamaica Kincaid, “Girl” (1978) Another staple of a writer’s education, and a reader’s; “are you really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won’t let near the bread?” being a kind of bandied-about shibboleth.
Raymond Carver, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” (1981) I struggled choosing a Carver story for this list—”Cathedral” is more important, and probably more read, but “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” has transcended its own form more completely, at least with its title, which has spawned a host of echoes, including Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running , and Nathan Englander’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank , to the point that I think it’s recognizable to just about everyone. A quick Google search will reveal that the framing has been used for almost everything you can think of. There’s—and I kid you not—a What We Talk About When We Talk About Books/War/Sex/God/The Tube/Games/Rape/Money/Creative Writing/Nanoclusters/Hebrew/The Weather/Defunding the Police/Free Speech/Taxes/Holes/Climate/The Moon/Waste/Cancel Culture/Impeachment/Gender/Digital Inclusions/Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease/COVID-19 . You see what I’m getting at here.
Stephen King, “The Body” (1982) Otherwise known, to the general public, as Stand By Me .
Amy Hempel, “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” (1983) Want to feel bad about your writing? This was the first short story Amy Hempel ever wrote.
Lorrie Moore, “How to Be an Other Woman” (1985) A very very good short story that has given rise to so many bad ones.
Mary Gaitskill, “Secretary” (1988) Bad Behavior is iconic as a whole , but probably the story to have most acutely permeated the wider culture is “Secretary,” on account of the film adaptation starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader—despite the fact that it totally butchers the ending.
Amy Tan, “Rules of the Game” (1989) This story originally appeared in The Joy Luck Club , Tan’s mega-bestseller, so probably almost everyone you know has read it. The film version didn’t hurt either.
Tim O’Brien, “The Things They Carried” (1990) Why, it’s only the most anthologized short story of the last 30(ish) years. That’s why even the people you know who haven’t picked up a book in their adult lives have read it.
Denis Johnson, “Emergency” (1992) When I left New York to go get my MFA, a friend gave me a copy of Jesus’ Son with the inscription “Because everyone in your MFA will talk about it and you don’t want to be the girl who hasn’t read it. (It’s also really good).” He was not wrong.
Annie Proulx, “Brokeback Mountain” (1997) Everybody knows this story—even if they only know it from its (massively successful and influential, not to mention the true Best Picture Winner of 2006) film adaptation—and not for nothing, coming out when it did, it went a long way towards making some Americans more comfortable with homosexuality. Open the floodgates, baby.
Jhumpa Lahiri, “A Temporary Matter” (1998) The story that made Lahiri a household name.
Ted Chiang, “Story of Your Life” (1998) Otherwise known as Arrival . (Also technically a novella.)
Alice Munro, “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” (2001) At this point, almost everyone has read at least some Alice Munro, right? This story is one of the best from one of the greats, and was also adapted into a fantastic but heartbreaking film, Away From Her .
Kristen Roupenian, “Cat Person” (2017) Sure, it’s recent, so it’s not quite as ingrained as some of the others here, but it’s also the story that broke the internet —and quite possibly the only New Yorker story that thousands of people have ever read.
Finally, as is often the case with lists that summarize the mainstream American literary canon of the last 200 years, it is impossible not to recognize that the list above is much too white and male. So for our future and continuing iconography, your friends at Literary Hub suggest reading the following stories, both new and old:
Eudora Welty, “Why I Live at the P.O.” (1941) Clarice Lispector, “The Imitation of the Rose” (1960) Leslie Marmon Silko, “The Man to Send Rain Clouds” (1969) Ralph Ellison, “Cadillac Flambé” (1973) Octavia Butler, “Bloodchild” (1984) Bharati Mukherjee, “The Management of Grief” (1988) John Edgar Wideman, “Fever” (1990) Sandra Cisneros, “Woman Hollering Creek” (1991) Christine Schutt, “To Have and to Hold” (1996) ZZ Packer, “Brownies” (2003) Edward P. Jones, “Marie” (2004) Karen Russell, “Haunting Olivia” (2005) Kelly Link, “Stone Animals” (2005) Edwidge Danticat, “Ghosts” (2008) Yiyun Li, “A Man Like Him” (2008) Claire Vaye Watkins, “Ghosts, Cowboys” (2009) Ottessa Moshfegh, “Bettering Myself” (2013) Amelia Gray, “House Heart” (2013) Zadie Smith, “Meet the President!” (2013) Carmen Maria Machado, “The Husband Stitch” (2014) Diane Cook, “The Way the End of Days Should Be” (2014) Kirstin Valdez Quade, “Five Wounds” (2015) NoViolet Bulawayo, “Shhhh” (2015) Mariana Enriquez, “Spiderweb” (2016) Ken Liu, “State Change” (2016) Helen Oyeyemi, “Sorry Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” (2016) Lesley Nneka Arimah, “What Is a Volcano?” (2017) James McBride, “The Christmas Dance” (2017) Viet Thanh Nguyen, “War Years” (2017) Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, “Friday Black” (2018). . .
Honestly, this list could go on forever, but let’s stop and say: more short stories of all kinds in the hands of the general public, please!
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Top 10 contemporary short stories
Ahead of 2017’s National short story prize, Jon McGregor reluctantly chooses ‘swoony’ work from recent years showing some of the ways to write them well
This summer, I read the entries for this year’s BBC National short story prize , and discussed with my fellow judges the vexed question of how the “best” might be identified.
This was both a pleasure and a serious challenge: the form of the story is so capacious and diverse that at times we were comparing apples and pears, or at least looking at an unfamiliar fruit and arguing over whether to call it an apple or a pear. (Rest assured, though: the challenge is not impossible. An apple is always better than a pear.) You can assess our choices after the shortlist is announced this Friday evening on BBC Radio 4. All five finalists will then be broadcast on successive afternoons on BBC Radio 4 ( and made available on iPlayer ) starting on 18 September.
But this challenge has been nothing against the request to choose stories to fit the title for this piece. Guardian, please! There are approximately 17m to choose from. Where do I even begin? Where are all the stories I haven’t read, or have loved and then unfaithfully forgotten? (I am a fickle and forgetful reader.)
This list, then, is not hierarchical or canonical. My choices are, simply, 10 tales from this century that I have read and that I think do something interesting or startling or just downright swoony with the form of the short story. Clicking on the titles will lead you to the stories themselves, if you haven’t already read them. I look forward to having my reading horizons broadened in the comments.
1. Victory Lap by George Saunders Sorry to be so predictable, but I do love George Saunders. With this story, and the rest of the collection it comes from, Tenth of December, he was clearly taking his gifts for voice, character, and satire, and pushing himself to do something much harder and more humane. This story starts awkwardly, in tune with its two gangly teenage protagonists, and stutters through a lovely character study to suddenly burst into an action tale and an unlikely outbreak of heroism. It also offers a dazzling response to the writer’s dilemma of whether to move to a happy ending or a sad ending. On the last page, you can see Saunders looking at the options he has created for himself and simply opening his hands a little wider and saying, ‘Yes, we’ll have both of those.’
2. Pee on Water by Rachel B Glaser This was my personal standout in the already very strong New American Stories, edited by Ben Marcus . I’m increasingly drawn to any story that has a more expansive sense of a story’s possibility than the “snapshot of life” model insisted upon by the Carver/Hemingway school. This story begins at the dawn of time and ends round about now, which is expansive enough for anyone, I feel. It also has beautiful sentences, and there are not enough of those in the world.
3. Then Later, His Ghost by Sarah Hall This does one of my favourite things in a story: something you weren’t expecting. It’s an apocalypse tale, of which we seem to have had many lately and for which I am quite the sucker, but it’s a whole other and new form of apocalypse, wherein a howling wind rips everything loose from the ground. A real feat of imagination, and all the more terrifying for being set in the made-newly-strange streets of my Norwich childhood.
4. Fjord of Killary by Kevin Barry Barry is great at drawing you quickly into the confidence of his voice; the first few sentences of any of his stories have that quality of strapping you in for the ride. “So I bought an old hotel on the fjord of Killary,” the narrator tells us at the outset of this one, and we can already hear the sigh in his voice. “It rained two hundred and eighty-seven days of the year, and the locals were given to magnificent mood swings.” We lean in, and listen on.
5. The News of her Death by Pettina Gappah Five women talking in a hair salon while one of them has her braids done: this is all the narrative structure Gappah needs to build a complex social landscape, telling these women’s stories through perfectly pitched dialogue and delicately measured details. The recurring refrain that “Kindness is late” is brilliantly deployed, and the whole story quietly makes the point that hair is always political.
6. Thank You by Alejandro Zambra, translated by Megan McDowell As is usually the case, I’ve only just started reading Zambra after years of being urged to do so. This story, of a robbery that starts off violent before fizzling out into a chat about football and a lift home, is told in a jarringly languorous and anecdotal tone, which both draws you in and leaves you uncomfortably dissonant.
7. The Green Zone Rabbit by Hassan Blasim, translated by Jonathan Wright This story, from The Iraqi Christ , published by the excellent Comma Press, is by turns terrifying and wonderfully banal. In Baghdad’s Green Zone, Hajjar keeps a rabbit while waiting to be briefed on an operation. The rabbit lays an egg. Things get stranger and darker, and Blasim lays his tale out with a wonderfully dry bar-room simplicity that makes the ending all the more explosive.
8. Track by Nicole Flattery This recently won the White Review short story prize , and it’s not hard to see why. Written in a misleadingly offhand deadpan, Track covers seemingly familiar ground – an abusive relationship, a young woman adrift in the big city, the pitfalls of fame and money – at such an oblique angle that it demands repeated reading. It’s also very funny, and very sad.
9. Finishing Touch by Claire-Louise Bennett I could have chosen any of the stories from Bennett’s debut collection, Pond – and in fact I would urge you to read the collection as a whole, its sum being, unusually, greater than the parts. I have plumped for this simply because it is so painfully funny. The narrator, “determined to host a low-key, but impeccably conceived, soirée”, details at great length her preparations and in the process reveals almost everything about her own hurt and loss. Bennett’s language is an ornate and long-winded riposte to all those pared-back minimalists, and I love it.
10. The Emerald Light in the Air by Donald Antrim This is a stone-cold masterpiece, as you will see by following the link above. It proceeds with the strange and relentless quality of a dream or fable, while being almost macabre in its realism, and feels like the story Antrim has been writing towards for his whole career. The beauty of it is hard to pin down, but it has a finished and inevitable quality – which it’s occurring to me now could be called soul.
- The National short story award will be announced on 3 October on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row .
- Jon McGregor’s latest novel is Reservoir 13, published by Fourth Estate, priced £14.99. It is available from the Guardian Bookshop for £12.74 including free UK p&p . The Reservoir Tapes, a specially commissioned series of 15 prequel stories, will run each Sunday at 7.45pm from 1 October on BBC Radio 4.
- National short story prize
- Short stories
- Awards and prizes
- Kevin Barry
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On Wisdom & Humor: Short Stories to Make You Think & Smile…
“If you’ve heard this story before, don’t stop me, because I’d like to hear it again.” Groucho Marx
Stories are a very powerful way to communicate and convey messages. With a story, you can cut through the need for excess verbiage in a presentation, and in one fell swoop, deliver a pithy or funny missive to a captive audience. All of us love to hear stories because we can take the moral of the story shared, make it our own, and retell it with added nuances or modified words. The best stories often linger in our minds and demand that we retell them; their message often incisive, strong, true. I find that good stories don’t get tired… We can read or hear them over and over again, and they hold our attention, convey their wisdom or humor as if for the first time…
The Wise Woman’s Stone A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. “I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me something more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone. Author Unknown
Lady Gets on a Bus A lady gets on a public bus. Without saying a word, she gestures to the bus driver by sticking her thumb on her nose and waving her fingers at the driver. The driver acknowledges the lady, turns to her and uses both hands in the same type of gesture and waves all his fingers at her. The woman holds her right arm out at the driver and chops at it a few times with her left hand. Then the driver puts his left hand on his right bicep and jerks his right arm up in a fist at her. The woman then cups both of her hands under her breasts and lifts gently. So the driver places both of his hands at his crotch and gently lifts up. Then the woman frowns, runs a finger up between her derriere, and gets off the bus. There is another woman sitting in the front row of the bus who witnessed the whole exchange. She speaks up, “That was the most disgusting thing I have ever seen on a public bus! What the hell were you doing?” “Listen lady,” states the gruff bus driver, “the lady that got on the bus before was a deaf-mute. She asked me if the bus went to 5th Street. I said no, we go to 10th Street. She asked if we make many stops. I told her that this was the express. She asked if we go by the dairy, and I told her we go by the ballpark. She said “Shit, I’m on the wrong bus!” and got off.”
“I like a good story well told. That is the reason I am sometimes forced to tell them myself.” Mark Twain
On Wisdom & Humor: Short Stories to Make You Think & Smile… Storytime
Stories transport us to another time while teaching us profound lessons about life. For this post, I’ve decided to share several stories with you. These are stories that will make us think and/or make us smile. Some of them made me laugh out loud… but then again, it depends on how much it takes to tickle your funny bone . Like Mark Twain, most of us love a good story; long or short. We love funny stories and jokes because they lift our spirits and give us something to mull over. Stories can bring disparate groups of people together and give them a voice to help express their joys and concerns. Because they leave us with visual memories, stories are a great way to build connections and friendship with others…
Socks and Shoes A little boy about 10 years old was standing before a shoe store on the roadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering with cold. A lady approached the boy and said, “My little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in that window?” “I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes,” was the boy’s reply. The lady took him by the hand and went into the store and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel. He quickly brought them to her. She took the little fellow to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with a towel. By this time the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy’s feet, she purchased him a pair of shoes. She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him. She patted him on the head and said, “No doubt, my little fellow, you feel more comfortable now?” As she turned to go, the astonished lad caught her by the hand, and looking up in her face, with tears his eyes, answered the question with these words: “Are you God’s Wife ?” Author Unknown
My Name’s Joe There once was a farmer whose wife had died and left him with three beautiful teenage daughters. Every weekend, when they went out on dates, the farmer would stand at the door with his shotgun, making it clear to their dates he wanted no trouble from them. Another Saturday night came around. About 7 p.m., there was a knock on the door. He answered and the young man said, “Hi, my name’s Joe. I’m here for Flo. I’m taking her to the show. Is she ready to go?” The farmer thought he was a clever boy and wished them a good time. A few minutes later, another knock was heard. A second boy appeared and said, “Hi, I’m Eddie. I’m here for Betty. I’m taking her for spaghetti. I hope she’s ready.” He thought that he must know Joe, but bade them off as well with his best wishes. A few minutes after that, a third knock was heard. “Hi, I’m Chuck…” The farmer shot him.
Ticket Excuse A man was driving home late one afternoon, and he was driving above the speed limit. He notices a police car with its red lights on in his rear view mirror. He thinks “I can outrun this guy,” so he floors it and the race is on. The cars are racing down the highway — 60, 70, 80, 90 miles an hour. Finally, as his speedometer passes 100, the guy figures he can’t outrun the cop and gives up. He pulls over to the curb. The police officer gets out of his cruiser and approaches the car. He leans down and says “Listen mister, I’ve had a really lousy day, and I just want to go home. Give me a good excuse and I’ll let you go.” The man thought for a moment and said, “Three weeks ago, my wife ran off with a police officer. When I saw your cruiser in my rear view mirror, I thought you were that officer and you were trying to give her back to me!
“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp . The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.” Ursula K. LeGuin
On Wisdom & Humor: Short Stories to Make You Think & Smile… Griots/Storytellers of Senegal
On Wisdom & Humor: Short Stories to Make You Think & Smile… Stories under the Baobab tree..
There are all kinds of stories available to us and they are often told to suit the occasion at hand. The griots of Africa traveled around telling their stories and were paid to do so… Often the Griots told their stories under the baobab tree and when they passed away, some were buried by the tree. When we think back to our childhood, we remember the fables and fairy tales we enjoyed. Later, we learned parables and all sorts of other categories or genres that cover a wide range of stories. So, throughout our lifetime, we get exposed to short stories , novellas, or novels covering topics on Drama, Satire, Tragedy, Comedy (Tragicomedy), Humor , Action-adventure, Crime & Detective, Horror, Mystery, Romance, Science fiction, Western, Inspirational, fiction, non-fiction and more… They carry us from birth to death.
Two more aisles . . . A man observed a woman in the grocery store with a three year old girl in her basket. As they passed the cookie section, the little girl asked for cookies and her mother told her no. The little girl immediately began to whine and fuss, and the mother said quietly, “Now Monica, we just have half of the aisles left to go through; don’t be upset. It won’t be long.” Soon they came to the candy aisle, and the little girl began to shout for candy. And when told she couldn’t have any, began to cry. The mother said, “There, there, Monica, don’t cry–only two more aisles to go, and then we’ll be checking out.” When they got to the check-out stand, the little girls immediately began to clamor for gum and burst into a terrible tantrum upon discovering there’d be no gum purchased. The mother patiently said, “Monica, we’ll be through this check out stand in 5 minutes and then you can go home and have a nice nap.” The man followed them out to the parking lot and stopped the woman to compliment her. “I couldn’t help noticing how patient you were with little Monica,” he began. Whereupon the mother said, “I’m Monica . . . my little girl’s name is Tammy.” Author Unknown
A Boy and a Frog One day, a boy was walking down a road when a frog called to him, “Boy, if you kiss me, I will turn into a beautiful princess.” The boy picked up the frog, smiled at it, then placed the frog into his pocket. A few minutes later, the frog said, “Boy, if you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, and I will stay with you for a week.” The boy took the frog from his pocket, smiled at it, then put it back into his pocket. A few minutes later, the frog said, “Boy, if you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will do ANYTHING you want!” The boy took the frog from his pocket, smiled, and put it back. Finally, the frog cried, “Boy, what is the matter, I have told you that I am a beautiful princess, and if you kiss me, I will stay with you and do ANYTHING you want!” The boy took the frog from his pocket and said, “Look, I am an engineering student, I have no time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is cool!”
More below. 😉
“I don’t want anyone reading my writing to think about style. I just want them to be in the story.” Willa Sibert Cather
On Wisdom & Humor: Short Stories to Make You Think & Smile… Dressed in stories…
Life Sentence A woman awakes during the night to find that her husband was not in bed. She puts on her robe and goes downstairs to look for him. She finds him sitting in the kitchen with a cup of coffee, and he appears to be in deep thought, just staring at the wall. She watches as he wipes a tear from his eye and takes a sip of coffee. What’s the matter dear?, she whispers as she steps into the room. Why are you sitting down here this time of the night? The husband looks up from his coffee, Do you remember 20 years ago when we were dating, and you were only 16? he asks solemnly. Yes, I do she replies. The husband paused, the words were not coming easily. Do you remember when your father caught us in the back seat of my car making love?. Yes I remember, said the wife, lowering herself into a chair beside him. The husband continued. Do you remember when he shoved the double barrel shotgun in my face and said, “Either you marry my daughter, or I’ll send you to jail for 20 years.” Yes I remember that too. She whispered softly. He wiped another tear from his cheek and said, “I would be getting out today”! Author Unknown
A Diner Quickie A man goes into a restaurant and is seated. All the waitresses are gorgeous. A particularly voluptuous waitress wearing a very short skirt and legs that won’t quit came to his table and asked if he was ready to order, “What would you like, sir?” He looks at the menu and then scans her beautiful frame top to bottom, then answers, “A quickie.” The waitress turns and walks away in disgust. After she regains her composure she returns and asks again, “What would you like, sir?” Again the man thoroughly checks her out and again answers, “A quickie, please.” This time her anger takes over, she reaches over and slaps him across the face with a resounding “SMACK!” and storms away. A man sitting at the next table leans over and whispers, “Um, I think it’s pronounced ‘QUICHE.'”
Another reason why people love stories is that we often can relate to what’s being shared. We can inject humor into a story, add a song like the griots do, or perform a piece for all to enjoy. Inevitably, what is conveyed is the humor and message of our story.
“ What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a story, And the greatest good is little enough: for all life is a dream, and dreams themselves are only dreams.” Pedro Calderon de la Barca
On Wisdom & Humor: Short Stories to Make You Think & Smile… A griot sings and shares…
Footprints One night a man had a dream. He dreamt he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints on the sand — one belonging to him and the other to the Lord. When the last scene had flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints and he noticed only one set. He also noticed that this happened during the lowest and saddest times of his life. This bothered him and he questioned the Lord. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you would walk all the way with me, but I noticed that during the most troublesome times of my life there was only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed you most, you deserted me.” The Lord replied, “My precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, those were the times when I carried you in my arms.” Author Unknown
A Priest and Nun in Winter A priest and a nun were lost in a snowstorm. After a while, they came upon a small cabin. Being exhausted, they prepared to go to sleep. There was a stack of blankets in the corner and a sleeping bag on the floor but only one bed. Being a gentleman, the priest said, “Sister, you sleep on the bed. I’ll sleep on the floor in the sleeping bag.” Just as he got zipped up in the bag and was beginning to fall asleep, the nun said, “Father, I’m cold.” He unzipped the sleeping bag, got up, got a blanket and put it on her. Once again, he got into the sleeping bag, zipped it up and started to drift off to sleep when the nun once again said, “Father, I’m still very cold.” He unzipped the bag, got up again, put another blanket on her and got into his sleeping bag once again. Just as his eyes closed, she said, “Father, I’m sooooo cold.” This time, he remained there and said, “Sister, I have an idea. We’re out here in the wilderness where no one will ever know what happened. Let’s pretend we’re married.” The nun purred, “That’s fine by me.” To which the priest yelled back, “Get up and get your own stupid blanket!”
Positive Motivation Tip: Stories transport us to another time while teaching us profound lessons about life. Find your story…
PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos bookshelves , baobab tree , thirty stories , Griots Sambala , Niger Griot , via Wikipedia or Storytime by Jon K, via Flickr . Stories: Found on Yuni.com and lifesmith.com
Until Next Time… Ask. Believe. Receive. © Elizabeth Obih-Frank Mirth and Motivation Positive Kismet
- Cat Humor: Summer Fun Moments (eof737wordpress.com)
What a wonderful collection of stories….I loved them….I thinks so much wisdom and insight can be offered and received through stories….thanks!
I’m with you on that one too… So much we learn and remember from them. TY! 🙂
Gladiolas in a white vase, their magenta faces shining in early morning light streaming through a windowpane speckled with last night’s raindrops, bring me to wakefulness, adoration, and hope.
Another volley of blossom unfolds atop their stems, assuring me that on the morrow I shall yet have their company.
Breathing gratitude, I pour cool water from a crystal pitcher into the vase with a devout prayer: “May my life also unfold in radiance and in beauty.”
I return the flowers to a corner of the hearth, knowing I am ready, now, for what the day may bring.
I love short stories! They are so inspiring. I am glad that you did a post on it today as I am getting ready to move again and trying to keep my spirits up. ♥
That was beautiful, Jackie! 🙂
TY for your comment Karen… 2011 must have been a remarkable year! I missed quite a few comments. 🙂
I love this poem Jackie! TY so much for sharing it and for your feedback. 😉
a good photo is like a well written short story … the two last photos have this level: 1) dressed in stories 2) a griot sings …
Well said! A well told story is vivid and rich like a great photograph. 😉
I loved the story about the bus driver. I find myself asking how you manage to put these posts together. As well as being great they indicate a lot of work
They took some work, but I had my system of putting them together and sometimes, they took a few days. I wrote quite a number of posts in advance. TY! 😉
Oh I just love stories! You made me smile from here to there! 🙂
I love reading stories and wisdom and humor work for me too. I love your selection and, like Countingduck, I admire the effort you put into your posts. How do you do it? Great photos too! B
What an interesting set of stories! The way you put them together makes me choose the ones I like the most. I think that is supposed to tell me something but I don’t know what. I love the story about the Lady and the Stone and the Socks and Shoes. They are beautiful stories. I’ve always loved the one about the Lord carrying us in difficult times. (The bus driver one is very funny though, I must admit…) Thanks for a fun post! (and I love the photo of the library- makes you want to get lost in those stacks, doesn’t it?) 🙂
This is a great post. Thank you for sharing these stories.
Thanks for the giggles, E! 😆
A ten and I reposted one of the stories on my blog giving you credit of course and plan to post more of them sometime in the future. Thank you for being a partner in trying to make our world better. And you are definitiely an Honorary Emotional Fitness Trainer. You made me laugh, gave me something to think about, inspired me, remembered what matters. and were with Beauty.
Maybe I need to make a Honorary EFT Stamp you could post on your bllog, But only when I become rich and famous will that have any value, so don’t hold your breath.
Thank you again.
Loved the bus driver story. You really went all out on this one! I don’t know how you do it. Thanks though! b
Great collection of short stories ! luv’d reading them. I’m still giggling about the one where the husband said: I’d be getting out now !!!! 🙂
Haha….A Diner Quickie and the Priest and the Nun! Way too funny!! Thanks!
Hi Eliz, I love stories too. I think, young and old people love stories, though not all people like it, but most of people, I think Thank you for sharing all those nice stories, Eliz 🙂
A delightful compilation of stories…. I know where to come to for more of these. Thank you
I love a good story! It keeps life more interesting and keeps the imagination active.
What delightful stories! I loved the one about Monica and the bus driver.
Great short stories! You were right, they did make me think & smile. 🙂
Great stories Eliz! My favourite one was “A Boy and a Frog”. So funny! Thank you for sharing these. 🙂
I’m cracking up over here, Elizabeth. Thanks for the laugh.
Loved all the stories, some were old, but most of them new to me and ALL were great to read! Thanks! Now…I wonder what happened to the guy who got stopped by the cop? Did he get off without a ticket? 🙂
Elizabeth, where do you find all of these wonderful stories?
Love your blog!
TY and the sentiments are mutual.
Wonderful stories.Very hilarious! You have a nice blog.
Thank for your comment I appreciate it. 🙂
I love those stories! I think the one about the deaf mute is the most weirdly amusing!
I do love a good story, and these were great. 😉 That “dressed in stories” pic is wonderful.
TY! It was fun and I like that photo too. 😉
“Lady Gets on a Bus” – the best!
Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
“I don’t want anyone reading my writing to think about style. I just want them to be in the story.” Willa Sibert Cather
I needed to stop and read these stories…especially Gods wife..we all need to reach out and help another…I wish I knew how..
TY for your honest feedback… We can only do what we know how; however small or simple I suppose. 😉
I just loved your stories. I can’t tell stories but love to read them. Fine collection.
I woke up to a bouquet of likes and nice comments on the blog today. Thank you for starting my day with such positivity. I appreciate your stopping by and telling me so. I just read your story post as it was recommended on one of the “like” notifications- I am still smiling!! 🙂
What a lovely way to start the day- I’ll have a Quickie please- my 20 years just ended- I am starving!
Thank you for reading my little burgeoning blog!
What a great post! All of these stories were great! The boy and the frog and the mother in the aisles really resonated with me. And thank you for visiting my blog.
Reminded me of a quote by Vonnegut:
“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion . . . . I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”
TY for your feedback and will visit you again.! 🙂
oh those stories are wonderful. i always forget how much i love a good short story until i read one.
when i was young, i loved to read roald dahl. as an adult, my mum bought me a collection of his short stories for adults. he’s so well known for his children’s books, i don’t know how many people know how clever and funny his adult stories are.
anyway, thank you for a good read and a good chuckle!
I grew up reading Dahl too and he always had wicked humor… TY for checking in and for your feedback. 😉
What marvelous stories! I am a storyteller myself, and adore stories, and want to tell you, not only are these fine ones, but I only heard ONE of them before, the rest were absolutely new to me! In this age of quick dissemination by “social media,” that’s an outstanding feat. Thanks for much pleasure, Elizabeth.
TY for your kind comment too… I’m glad you enjoyed the stories too. 🙂
Love your stories — especially like Socks and shoes
Thanks for your feedback… I’m always astonished at the recommendations WP makes when we connect with each other. 😉
I LOVE these! My husband is learning English, so short stories like this are a fun read for him as he learns. I just shared one with him.
I’m glad you enjoyed this… TY! I’m still amused/puzzled when WP suggests old posts to readers instead of my most recent stuff! 🙂
I love amusing stories. ♥♥
i totally enjoyed all the stories here. i lol at some points. and the story abt the boy and god’s wife touched my heart. liked the one about Monica and her tactic… all of them transported me to another time and place and it was good. thanks
Great stories! A nice morning chuckle is better than coffee. 🙂
Thanks Sam, I appreciate the feedback. Stories are a great teaching tool because people remember the lessons and the wisdom shared. Thanks for the share too. Elizabeth
Exactly and you that you are always welcome.
Thumbs up, Sam
The author of the Footprints poem is Margaret Fishback Powers from Canada
very inspirational stories
TY Michael, Have a great week ahead! Elizabeth
Great post!! I loved all these stories, and none of them too long for my attention span!! I really liked the deaf woman on the bus one – but they were all good 🙂
Looking forward for more.
I like short stories that gives insights and learning. For me they are so powerful
Yes, I love story telling. I would always tell story to my 5 year old daughter. It also encourages creativity and enriches my daughter’s imagination.
What a wonderfully written post. Thanks for the like you have a new follower.
Hi there, I love some of these stories and I was wanting to use some of them in a book that I am writing. How would I be able to reference and cite to avoid copyright. Kind regards
Hello James, If you scrolled to the bottom of my page, you will see my attributions: PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos bookshelves, baobab tree, thirty stories, Griots Sambala, Niger Griot, via Wikipedia or Storytime by Jon K, via Flickr. Stories: Found on Yuni.com and lifesmith.com I think I found some or most on Wikipedia under short stories and other sites mentioned in my attributions on random internet searches. You can definitely use any that say Author Unknown and any in the Public Domain but, if you have a publisher, you/they need to make sure that it is not owned by someone. Best wishes!
Nice stories 😊
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The best short stories ever written
Modern life is a busy affair and sometimes, a short story offers the perfect form. Escape with these groundbreaking works, both classic and modern.
The short story, says Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Steven Millhauser, has powers the novel only dreams of. “The novel is the Wal-Mart, the Incredible Hulk, the jumbo jet of literature,” he wrote in his essay, The Ambition of the Short Story . “[And yet] the short story apologises for nothing. It exults in its shortness. It wants to be shorter still. It wants to be a single word. If it could find that word, if it could utter that syllable, the entire universe would blaze up out of it with a roar. That is the outrageous ambition of the short story, that is its deepest faith, that is the greatness of its smallness.”
Many of history's finest novelists have tried their hand at the short story, and some are even best-known for their prowess in this form. Think of John Cheever , Katherine Mansfield and Tessa Hadley , all of whom appear on this list. Elsewhere, short stories offer unfamiliar readers an opportunity to dip their toe into a writer's style, or else see a different side of them altogether: James Joyce , Carson McCullers and Ian McEwan , arguably best-known for their novels, can all be accessed in a different way through their short fiction.
Readers continue to show a huge appetite for the short story and it's no wonder when modern writers such as Lauren Groff , Daisy Johnson and Ottessa Moshfegh have turned out some of the most critically-acclaimed collections of recent years. There have even been viral short story sensations: 2017's Cat Person , a tale of romance gone wrong, captured the cultural zeitgeist and sparked conversations around the world immediately after its publication in the New Yorker .
So, without further ado, here are 50 of literature's greatest short stories to entertain, distract, reassure and inspire – just what a short story should do.
What did you think of this article? Email [email protected] and let us know.
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THE SOUL JAM
3 profound short stories with deep meaning.
Meaningful short stories that will inspire you and make you reflect
One of my early childhood memories is of sitting between both my elder brothers and listening with fascination and interest to the made-up short stories they would tell me before going to bed.
I loved stories then and I love stories now. But then again who doesn’t love a great story?
In this blog post, I’d like to share with you three simple short stories that will make you reflect, so sit back and enjoy.
The story of the Chinese farmer and the horse
Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away.
That evening, all of his neighbours came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.”
The next day the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.”
The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbors then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.”
The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbours came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, he said, “Maybe.”
The moral of the story
I’ve talked before in the blog about how all events, circumstances and even life itself, is neutral and has no in-built meaning. Events and circumstances in our life don’t come pre-packaged with any labels such as good or bad. Instead, we are the ones who attach a negative or positive meaning by the perspective with which we view them.
However, when we attach a negative label or meaning to a certain event, our own perceptions cause us pain and makes us suffer. As the farmer’s story illustrates, it is wise to refrain from attaching any negative meaning to the events that occur in our lives.
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The story of the king and the ring
Once upon a time there was a king who said this to the members of his kingdom:
"I have bought one of the most beautiful diamonds in the world and I want to hide a message in the ring which I intend to pass on to my successors after my rule. The message should serve me and others in the times of desperation and struggle. It must be a short sentence that can be stashed under the ring's diamond.''
All those who listened were very clever and quick thinkers, they all could write passages and essays but not a short sentence that is not longer than 2-3 words that would assist someone in the times of despair.
They all thought but could not come up with what was needed. The king was a bit disappointed and he went into his chambers where his old servant met him. As the king's mother passed away at a very young age, he was raised majorly by this faithful servant. The king had tremendous respect for the servant and so he presented his current problem to him.
The old man said:
"I'm not wise nor scholarly nor well educated like the others sir, but I do know of a message. During my life, in the palace I've met all sorts of people, and once I met a wizard who was invited by your father. To thank me, he gave me this message".
The old servant wrote something on a piece of paper and handed it to the king. "But don't read it" he said" keep it hidden in the ring and open it only when you have no other choice.”
Soon after, the kingdom was invaded and the king started to lose battles. He fled on his horse followed by his enemies. He was alone and his enemies were many. With no other choice, a cliff lay ahead of him and there was no way of return, he remembered the message inside the ring, he opened it took out the piece of paper and read the short message: "This too shall pass"
As soon as he read the message, he felt a great sense of silence and empowerment enveloping him. His enemies got lost in the woods and their horses were nowhere to be heard. The king was thankful to his old servant and the wizard. These words were incredible. He put the piece of paper back under the diamond in the ring and embarked on his journey back to his kingdom.
The day he got back to his kingdom, all were feeling victorious, he was greeted with a big feast and his happiness was spellbound.
The old servant stood next to him and said: "This moment too, is right for another look at the hidden message, Raja."
The king was amused and he replied "Now that I'm victorious people are celebrating, I'm not desperate or in a no option situation, why would I even look at the message?"
The servant said: “Listen to me sir, this message is relevant both in times of despair and in good times as well.”
The king opened the message again.
"This too shall pass"
The king again felt the great internal silence that he had felt before. Though he was celebrating, his pride and ego disappeared and diminished. The king understood the true meaning of the message and he was enlightened.
Just as everything in our external environment is constantly changing, the same is the case with everything in our internal environment. All our thoughts and feelings are like clouds in the sky, constantly arising and passing.
The Buddhists call this phenomenon “ Annicha ” which means that everything is temporary or impermanent. Keeping this wisdom in our mind can heal and bring us comfort in challenging times as well as cherish and savour the beautiful yet transitory gift that is life.
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The elephant and the rope story
A gentleman was walking through an elephant camp, and he spotted that the elephants weren’t being kept in cages or held by the use of chains.
All that was holding them back from escaping the camp, was a small piece of rope tied to one of their legs.
As the man gazed upon the elephants, he was completely confused as to why the elephants didn’t just use their strength to break the rope and escape the camp. They could easily have done so, but instead, they didn’t try to at all.
Curious and wanting to know the answer, he asked a trainer nearby why the elephants were just standing there and never tried to escape.
The trainer replied;
“When they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
The only reason that the elephants weren’t breaking free and escaping from the camp was that over time they adopted the belief that it just wasn’t possible.
The beliefs we hold in our lives is extremely important because they have the power to create our reality due to the operation of the Law of attraction .
If we don’t change our limiting beliefs, they become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and we become unable to break free from chains of our self-imposed limitations
As the author Marianne Williamson so rightly said,
"Nothing binds you except your thoughts; nothing limits you except your fear; and nothing controls you except your beliefs."
As the story of the elephant and the rope illustrates, it is important to realise that a belief and the actual truth can be two very different things. Therefore it is essential to examine and let go of the limiting beliefs that may be holding us back in our lives.
I am on a mission to help people live better and happier lives. If you found some value in this post, kindly consider supporting my work with a small tip. I'd really appreciate it 🙂 and it will help me continue creating more useful content.
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The 10 Most Inspirational Short Stories I’ve Heard
Short Inspirational stories are powerful reads;
The great thing about them is that they’re so easy to digest, and there’s always a moral at the end of the story.
Whether they’re true stories or not is another thing, as many of them are legends supposedly hundreds of years old.
However, the stories that I’m talking about are so powerful and inspirational that many of them really do get you thinking and even leave you speechless at times.
Table of Contents
The 10 Best Inspirational Short Stories
I’ve been reading plenty of these short stories in the past couple of weeks and found the lessons behind them truly wonderful. So I’ve decided to write out this article highlighting the 10 most inspirational short stories I’ve heard.
Next to the subheadings, in brackets, I’ve put what the story’s lesson is all about, with a short description of the moral of the story at the end of each section.
10. The Elephant Rope (Belief)
A gentleman was walking through an elephant camp, and he spotted that the elephants weren’t being kept in cages or held by the use of chains.
All that was holding them back from escaping the camp, was a small piece of rope tied to one of their legs.
As the man gazed upon the elephants, he was completely confused as to why the elephants didn’t just use their strength to break the rope and escape the camp. They could easily have done so, but instead, they didn’t try to at all.
Curious and wanting to know the answer, he asked a trainer nearby why the elephants were just standing there and never tried to escape.
The trainer replied;
“when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
The only reason that the elephants weren’t breaking free and escaping from the camp was that over time they adopted the belief that it just wasn’t possible.
Moral of the story:
No matter how much the world tries to hold you back, always continue with the belief that what you want to achieve is possible. Believing you can become successful is the most important step in actually achieving it.
9. Thinking Out of the Box (Creative Thinking)
In a small Italian town, hundreds of years ago, a small business owner owed a large sum of money to a loan-shark. The loan-shark was a very old, unattractive looking guy that just so happened to fancy the business owner’s daughter.
He decided to offer the businessman a deal that would completely wipe out the debt he owed him. However, the catch was that we would only wipe out the debt if he could marry the businessman’s daughter.
Needless to say, this proposal was met with a look of disgust.
The loan-shark said that he would place two pebbles into a bag, one white and one black.
The daughter would then have to reach into the bag and pick out a pebble. If it was black, the debt would be wiped, but the loan-shark would then marry her. If it was white, the debt would also be wiped, but the daughter wouldn’t have to marry the loan-shark.
Standing on a pebble-strewn path in the businessman’s garden, the loan-shark bent over and picked up two pebbles.
Whilst he was picking them up, the daughter noticed that he’d picked up two black pebbles and placed them both into the bag.
He then asked the daughter to reach into the bag and pick one.
The daughter naturally had three choices as to what she could have done:
- Refuse to pick a pebble from the bag.
- Take both pebbles out of the bag and expose the loan-shark for cheating.
- Pick a pebble from the bag fully well knowing it was black and sacrifice herself for her father’s freedom.
She drew out a pebble from the bag, and before looking at it ‘accidentally’ dropped it into the midst of the other pebbles. She said to the loan-shark;
“Oh, how clumsy of me. Never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”
The pebble left in the bag is obviously black, and seeing as the loan-shark didn’t want to be exposed, he had to play along as if the pebble the daughter dropped was white, and clear her father’s debt.
It’s always possible to overcome a tough situation throughout of the box thinking, and not give in to the only options you think you have to pick from.
8. The Group of Frogs (Encouragement)
As a group of frogs was traveling through the woods, two of them fell into a deep pit. When the other frogs crowded around the pit and saw how deep it was, they told the two frogs that there was no hope left for them.
However, the two frogs decided to ignore what the others were saying and they proceeded to try and jump out of the pit .
Despite their efforts, the group of frogs at the top of the pit were still saying that they should just give up. That they would never make it out.
Eventually, one of the frogs took heed to what the others were saying and he gave up, falling down to his death. The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and just die.
He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs said, “Did you not hear us?”
The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.
People’s words can have a big effect on other’s lives. Think about what you say before it comes out of your mouth. It might just be the difference between life and death.
7. A Pound of Butter (Honesty)
There was a farmer who sold a pound of butter to a baker. One day the baker decided to weigh the butter to see if he was getting the right amount, which he wasn’t. Angry about this, he took the farmer to court.
The judge asked the farmer if he was using any measure to weight the butter. The farmer replied, “Honor, I am primitive. I don’t have a proper measure, but I do have a scale.”
The judge asked, “Then how do you weigh the butter?”
The farmer replied;
“Your Honor, long before the baker started buying butter from me, I have been buying a pound loaf of bread from him. Every day when the baker brings the bread, I put it on the scale and give him the same weight in butter. If anyone is to be blamed, it is the baker.”
In life, you get what you give. Don’t try and cheat others.
6. The Obstacle In Our Path (Opportunity)
In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. He then hid himself and watched to see if anyone would move the boulder out of the way. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it.
Many people loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none of them did anything about getting the stone out of the way.
A peasant then came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to push the stone out of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.
After the peasant went back to pick up his vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been.
The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King explaining that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.
Every obstacle we come across in life gives us an opportunity to improve our circumstances , and whilst the lazy complain, the others are creating opportunities through their kind hearts, generosity, and willingness to get things done.
5. The Butterfly (Struggles)
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly.
One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.
Until it suddenly stopped making any progress and looked like it was stuck.
So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily, although it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.
The man didn’t think anything of it and sat there waiting for the wings to enlarge to support the butterfly. But that didn’t happen. The butterfly spent the rest of its life unable to fly, crawling around with tiny wings and a swollen body.
Despite the kind heart of the man , he didn’t understand that the restricting cocoon and the struggle needed by the butterfly to get itself through the small opening; were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings. To prepare itself for flying once it was out of the cocoon.
Our struggles in life develop our strengths . Without struggles, we never grow and never get stronger, so it’s important for us to tackle challenges on our own, and not be relying on help from others.
4. Control Your Temper (Anger)
There once was a little boy who had a very bad temper. His father decided to hand him a bag of nails and said that every time the boy lost his temper, he had to hammer a nail into the fence.
On the first day, the boy hammered 37 nails into that fence.
The boy gradually began to control his temper over the next few weeks, and the number of nails he was hammering into the fence slowly decreased.
He discovered it was easier to control his temper than to hammer those nails into the fence.
Finally, the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father the news and the father suggested that the boy should now pull out a nail every day he kept his temper under control.
The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.
“you have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”
Control your anger, and don’t say things to people in the heat of the moment, that you may later regret . Some things in life, you are unable to take back.
3. The Blind Girl (Change)
There was a blind girl who hated herself purely for the fact she was blind. The only person she didn’t hate was her loving boyfriend, as he was always there for her. She said that if she could only see the world, she would marry him.
One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her – now she could see everything , including her boyfriend. Her boyfriend asked her, “now that you can see the world, will you marry me?”
The girl was shocked when she saw that her boyfriend was blind too, and refused to marry him. Her boyfriend walked away in tears, and later wrote a letter to her saying:
“Just take care of my eyes dear.”
When our circumstances change, so does our mind. Some people may not be able to see the way things were before, and might not be able to appreciate them . There are many things to take away from this story, not just one.
This is one of the inspirational short stories that left me speechless.
2. Puppies for Sale (Understanding)
A shop owner placed a sign above his door that said: “Puppies For Sale.”
Signs like this always have a way of attracting young children, and to no surprise, a boy saw the sign and approached the owner;
“How much are you going to sell the puppies for?” he asked.
The store owner replied, “Anywhere from $30 to $50.”
The little boy pulled out some change from his pocket. “I have $2.37,” he said. “Can I please look at them?”
The shop owner smiled and whistled. Out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his shop followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur.
One puppy was lagging considerably behind. Immediately the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, “What’s wrong with that little dog?”
The shop owner explained that the veterinarian had examined the little puppy and had discovered it didn’t have a hip socket. It would always limp. It would always be lame.
The little boy became excited. “That is the puppy that I want to buy.”
The shop owner said, “No, you don’t want to buy that little dog. If you really want him, I’ll just give him to you.”
The little boy got quite upset. He looked straight into the store owner’s eyes, pointing his finger, and said;
“I don’t want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs and I’ll pay full price. In fact, I’ll give you $2.37 now, and 50 cents a month until I have him paid for.”
The shop owner countered, “You really don’t want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies.”
To his surprise, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. He looked up at the shop owner and softly replied, “Well, I don’t run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!”
1. Box Full of Kisses (Love)
Some time ago, a man punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.
Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, “This is for you, Daddy.”
The man became embarrassed by his overreaction earlier, but his rage continue when he saw that the box was empty. He yelled at her; “Don’t you know, when you give someone a present, there is supposed to be something inside?”
The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and cried;
“Oh, Daddy, it’s not empty at all. I blew kisses into the box. They’re all for you, Daddy.”
The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged for her forgiveness.
Only a short time later, an accident took the life of the child.
Her father kept the gold box by his bed for many years and, whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.
Love is the most precious gift in the world.
Summary of the 10 Best Inspirational Stories
Here’s a quick summary of the 10 best short inspirational stories:
- Box Full of Kisses (Love)
- Puppies for Sale (Understanding)
- The Blind Girl (Change)
- Control Your Temper (Anger)
- The Butterfly (Struggles)
- The Obstacle in Our Path (Opportunity)
- A Pound of Butter (Honesty)
- The Group of Frogs (Encouragement)
- Thinking Out of the Box (Creative Thinking)
- The Elephant Rope (Belief)
Thanks for reading these inspirational short stories. Some of them left me speechless for a minute or two, and it really does make us think.
If you know of any other inspirational short stories that you think should be featured on the list, then let me know in the comments below or drop me an email and I’ll feature them in part two later on in the year.
Which are your favorite inspirational short stories? Leave a comment below.
The 10 best motivational speakers in the world, top 20 best personal development authors of all time.
Dan Western is the founder of Wealthy Gorilla . Dan has been running Wealthy Gorilla and studying self-development, personal finance, and investment for the last 7 years. To this day, Wealthy Gorilla has become one of the fastest growing wealth infotainment sites in the world; with over 300 million views worldwide. Dan doesn't use personal social media anymore, so you won't be able to find him on Instagram, or Twitter.
Jan 3, 2016 at 10:32 am
Am no softie but that last story titled Box Full of Kisses wet my eyes. Can’t really explain.
Jun 12, 2016 at 2:46 pm
2 and 4 made me too think out of the box!
Jun 22, 2016 at 9:18 am
Awesome, yeah completely agree! These short stories can have a powerful impact, right?
May 4, 2017 at 11:03 am
yes..i agree with u..
Dec 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm
who is the authors of the story?
Dec 14, 2017 at 8:58 am
I honestly have no idea. These stories have been passed along over generations! I’m sure you might be able to find authors for some of them across the web.
Jan 25, 2018 at 8:03 pm
Pupoies For Sale – is by Dan Clerk , The Wuthering Stage and it is published in The Chicken Soup For The Soul, by Jack Canfield. I basically read this when I was younger, it made me compassionate.
Feb 28, 2020 at 7:59 pm
The one about love is the best, it left me thinkingabout be personaly.
Jul 10, 2016 at 12:47 pm
The story “Control your anger” heart touching , truth of life hidden in it. ..absolutely wonderful
Jul 10, 2016 at 2:24 pm
Completely agree with you Ayesha!
Sep 12, 2016 at 10:24 am
Must of the things you believe in always work for you
Sep 20, 2016 at 8:47 am
Nov 23, 2016 at 9:20 pm
who is the writer for the 2nd story??? PLEASE
Dec 20, 2016 at 6:25 pm
what is the theme of the short story “the blind girl” please if anyone has answers..
Dec 25, 2016 at 6:35 am
The Box Full Of Kisses Why the girl should be killed? Doesn’t she deserves to live longer? Damn it…
Oct 11, 2017 at 9:59 pm
Feb 14, 2017 at 3:38 pm
Hello Dan Western brother, can you please post some motivational stories that could motivate the students who isolated at school? Thank you
Feb 15, 2017 at 10:21 am
Hey Shakeela, sure thing! I’ll try and find some more short stories to put up!
Feb 14, 2017 at 4:10 pm
where do you find more stories like these?
I practice public speaking and telling these stories could make for a powerful speech
Feb 15, 2017 at 10:22 am
Hey Kevin! I’ll have browse on the web and try and create some more short story lists!
Mar 21, 2017 at 4:13 pm
Apr 8, 2017 at 2:38 pm
SerioulY from these stories I learnt manY lessons….Inspired
Apr 24, 2017 at 12:43 pm
outstanding effort.. thank you for sharing
May 7, 2017 at 7:18 pm
They are the kind of love stories that you will love over and over again. Thank you for sharing this.
May 14, 2017 at 9:02 am
May 24, 2017 at 5:48 am
They were really good. Could you please make some more.
May 25, 2017 at 8:49 am
These stories carries a great potency of light, to strengthen and illuminate one to act
May 30, 2017 at 5:14 am
Jun 12, 2017 at 6:36 pm
Comment: great pieces dan. ‘m inspired
Jul 3, 2017 at 1:14 pm
Thinking out of box nd obstacles in our way
Jul 10, 2017 at 10:29 am
Awesome article thanks for inspiring us with ur small and inspirational short stories. Especially the elephant rope one…
Jul 16, 2017 at 1:02 pm
Loved the article a lot.Some stories are really amazing and its worth reading.Thank you so much for posting this article.
Jul 19, 2017 at 9:30 pm
Each story has an unique point to take up but the Love made my eyes wet…. I am writing book on belief need your reference for the same and support where I can mention your blog details
Jul 22, 2017 at 9:03 am
Elephant rope was really sad, I mean imagine a life that’s tied to a rope forever. And that thought of never being able to get free, so sad. But good story!
Jul 24, 2017 at 3:53 am
It’s an actual life problem. We stop trying and crying when things are not working. We should find the new way to do it. That’s what our failure means. 🙂 NEVER GIVE UP
Jul 26, 2017 at 6:06 am
Thank you for this Dan! This is such an awesome read. The last one reallyyyy got me.
Jul 31, 2017 at 6:37 pm
Last one .. aahh i m still crying … N yeah love is most precious gift
Aug 2, 2017 at 10:00 pm
if frog is deaf how could they tell him the last part that ” are you not listening to us “
Aug 7, 2017 at 6:16 pm
A Pound of Butter (Honesty) and Box Full of Kisses (Love)
Aug 17, 2017 at 6:33 pm
Hey Dan Western ..m really inspired by all stories..thnx frn.. Could you just jot down some stories for morning assembly for little children for morning assmebly
Aug 17, 2017 at 6:54 pm
“The Elephant Rope” This story really inspired me. Because my parents wanted me to follow them always. I feel like I can’t decide on my own. 🙁 But now, I am determine to follow the things that makes me feel happy. -All is well
Oct 26, 2017 at 3:03 am
my parents allow me to do anything that i want to do , but not bad things & I also do that … in this your parents are like to be bad or they are pgl ……………
Sep 12, 2017 at 12:23 pm
Dear Dan Western, Hope you’re doing good. I would like to thank you for posting all these lovely and inspiring stories. The Box full of kisses had me crying. Loved it. Keep up the good work. God bless…
Sep 26, 2017 at 7:14 am
Nice to read those type of stories,Especially the last one made my eyes wet….
Thank you so much.
Oct 5, 2017 at 8:33 am
Hello, it’s hard to choose the favorite among them. Every story posted here has it’s own significance. Thank you for posting them, would request to share more such stories.
Warm regards, Sunitha.M
Oct 21, 2017 at 9:21 am
Dear Dan Western, Thank you for sharing these stories… Yes, I have heard all of the 10 before and I’m happy to remember them from your site. I will be sharing them with others.
Regards, Joncyn A.
jason nevil santhmayor
Oct 23, 2017 at 8:22 am
the last one, cant control my tears
Nov 3, 2017 at 3:16 pm
Your stories are very inspirational and motivational Dan Keep it up MOHANA KRISHNA
Dec 13, 2017 at 5:08 pm
These stories are just fab!! hey writer! ur doing a great job
Dec 13, 2017 at 9:37 pm
There is a story that I know which is about saying unkind words. It is like squeezing toothpaste out of its tube and trying to get it back in again. Better of if you never said or did anything in the first place.
Dec 19, 2017 at 10:49 am
All these stories are awesome. Most touching were “Box full of kisses” and the Puppies for sale. Great Job
Dec 24, 2017 at 1:46 am
The blind girl. Touched my heart deeply.
Sanath Wanni Arachchige
Jan 8, 2018 at 7:56 pm
All of them are good. I will share them on my Facebook and on my website.
Jan 15, 2018 at 8:21 pm
Beautiful compilation. Loved the story Puppies for sale (understanding) & of course Box full of kisses (love) the most!
Jan 16, 2018 at 10:00 am
I am also speech less at this story
Jan 18, 2018 at 2:02 am
Nice collection of inspirational stories! The story “obstacle in your path” is very true even in today’s world. Every obstacle is an opportunity. We should utilize these obstacles and turn them into opportunities with our hard work.
Jan 18, 2018 at 11:29 am
seriously very motivating and encouraging for me….
Jan 28, 2018 at 10:44 am
Hey Don ! All the stories knocked the socks off me ! I loved the frogs one !! Will read that story everyday till I go deaf on the discouragement this world throws at me and will keep trying till I jump out of my well too ! Thanks for that one .
Please let more coming in ??
And I can tell you “I will not give up on life because of you”
Feb 4, 2018 at 2:45 am
All stories are very inspiring. The Butterfly Story was good
Feb 11, 2018 at 12:43 pm
Hey Dan, Great story. collection of all of Your stories is more than motivationl. i’ll share it on my facebook wall, so others can get inspiration from them.
Apr 17, 2018 at 2:53 am
of course the puppies for sale story. person who understands you is the lack of the hour and if you find such a person you are blessed
Apr 30, 2018 at 6:04 am
Box Full of kisses was very emotional, being a father of a beautiful daughter, I was off. Every story was remarkably good. Thanks.
May 2, 2018 at 2:52 pm
Very inspiring stories…all stories have moral dimensions which tell us that nothing is impossible. If we face some difficulties in life, we should always find a solution rather than give up on God. We all are very blessed to have such a beautiful life.
May 14, 2018 at 12:54 am
This is one you might like!
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She then pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.
The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, Mother?”
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity — boiling water — but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity? Do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor of your life. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level?
How do you handle adversity? Are you changed by your surroundings or do you bring life, and flavor to them?
Bilal Ahmad shah
May 14, 2018 at 8:34 am
BOX full of kisses(love)…. is most awesome story I have ever red.. even I have even red All stories over there …. last one stories had a fab moral LOVE is precious gift in the world..
Jun 19, 2018 at 2:20 pm
the story about the elephant rope is very good
Jun 21, 2018 at 1:25 pm
4th one which I striked more . It is really inspiring because I am Part of it and I really wish to be myself happy without anger. thank u dan
Jun 21, 2018 at 6:21 pm
All stories left a very good message..But control ur anger is really inspiring..
Jul 20, 2018 at 3:25 pm
Thinking out of the box is my favorite… Wow…
Nov 2, 2018 at 4:45 am
These stories are so powerful they helped me to bounce back thanks for sharing these stories with us. You give boost to my work and effort. Thanks
Nov 14, 2018 at 3:37 pm
Beautiful stories i really loved them and i hope you don’t mind me sharing them
Dec 7, 2018 at 11:48 pm
Box of kisses. Nowadays the world needs love. Thank you Dan for sharing such a wonderful stories. God bless you & your family.
Life Coach Tushar Vakil
Dec 27, 2018 at 9:48 am
You might have unfathomable powers but your sometimes wrong beliefs hinder your potentials to live up to your conditions. What we learned from Elephant story is a million dollar thing. Thanks for sharing, all stories are awesome.
Jan 3, 2019 at 10:15 am
control your temper, has changed me.
Jan 16, 2019 at 6:10 pm
The box full of kisses is the story that I loved the most.. it’s something that I can connect myself to ! Thanks for such stories..
Apr 4, 2019 at 1:45 pm
This was beautiful. Love is the key.
Jan 8, 2020 at 11:36 pm
Puppies for sale and the blind girl are very touching
Nov 10, 2020 at 7:08 am
Great Stories . These are Very Interesting and inspiring.
Kangootui Julius M
Nov 20, 2020 at 10:28 am
Just Take Care Of My Eyes Dear.
Nov 21, 2020 at 12:08 pm
Nov 23, 2020 at 12:40 pm
Power of Positivity
Nov 25, 2020 at 7:15 pm
The most profound inspirational quotes about fitness carry a weight capacity of elevating a rough workout from demoralizing struggle to the righteous, eye-opening victory of mind over body. Sometimes, you only need a single reminder that someone before you rose to incredible heights only after challenging the definition of “impossible” through consistency, clearly defined goals, and the will to see the finish line beyond one bad day.
Dec 10, 2020 at 2:07 pm
All stories are too much motivational but I liked 2nd one. What a way to clear the debt of father. I really appreciate the wisdom of the girl.
Jan 25, 2021 at 11:27 am
Motivational stories have the ability to lift us up, make us smile, encourage, motivate, and teach us valuable life lessons. I have read such real life motivational stories at this link https://www.drilers.com/articles-and-stories
Feb 27, 2021 at 5:09 am
Very nice stories. I have read more motivational stories like these stories at this link https://www.motivationalkeeda.com/2019/07/3-best-motivational-story-in-hindi.html
Mar 31, 2021 at 5:01 pm
While surfing on the google I have found your website about SELF-IMPROVEMENTThe 10 Most Inspirational Short Stories I’ve Heard.
These short stories are very inspirational for me.
Jun 4, 2021 at 7:40 pm
Very Inspiring Stories.
Ahmad Sofyan H
Sep 2, 2021 at 11:02 am
I like all the stories.
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The 10 Best Short Moral Stories With Valuable Lessons
Stories that have morals and messages behind them are always powerful. In fact, it’s crazy just how powerful a 200 word story can be.
Our last article of short stories became so popular, that we decided to create another list, in which every story has a simple moral behind it.
The 10 Best Short Moral Stories
Some of these stories are very short and basic. In fact some are so basic they’re most likely featured in children’s books somewhere. However, the strength of the message remains the same.
Here’s some more of the best short moral stories:
1. An Old Man Lived in the Village
An old man lived in the village. He was one of the most unfortunate people in the world. The whole village was tired of him; he was always gloomy, he constantly complained and was always in a bad mood.
The longer he lived, the more bile he was becoming and the more poisonous were his words. People avoided him, because his misfortune became contagious. It was even unnatural and insulting to be happy next to him.
He created the feeling of unhappiness in others.
But one day, when he turned eighty years old , an incredible thing happened. Instantly everyone started hearing the rumour:
“An Old Man is happy today, he doesn’t complain about anything, smiles, and even his face is freshened up.”
The whole village gathered together. The old man was asked:
Villager: What happened to you?
“Nothing special. Eighty years I’ve been chasing happiness, and it was useless. And then I decided to live without happiness and just enjoy life. That’s why I’m happy now.” – An Old Man
Don’t chase happiness. Enjoy your life.
2. The Wise Man
People have been coming to the wise man, complaining about the same problems every time. One day he told them a joke and everyone roared in laughter.
After a couple of minutes, he told them the same joke and only a few of them smiled.
When he told the same joke for the third time no one laughed anymore.
The wise man smiled and said:
“You can’t laugh at the same joke over and over. So why are you always crying about the same problem?”
Worrying won’t solve your problems, it’ll just waste your time and energy.
3. The Foolish Donkey
A salt seller used to carry the salt bag on his donkey to the market every day.
On the way they had to cross a stream. One day the donkey suddenly tumbled down the stream and the salt bag also fell into the water. The salt dissolved in the water and hence the bag became very light to carry. The donkey was happy.
Then the donkey started to play the same trick every day.
The salt seller came to understand the trick and decided to teach a lesson to it. The next day he loaded a cotton bag on the donkey.
Again it played the same trick hoping that the cotton bag would be still become lighter.
But the dampened cotton became very heavy to carry and the donkey suffered. It learnt a lesson. It didn’t play the trick anymore after that day, and the seller was happy.
Luck won’t favor always.
4. Having A Best Friend
A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.
The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand;
“Today my best friend slapped me in the face.”
They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone;
“Today my best friend saved my life.”
The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him;
“After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?”
The other friend replied;
“When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.”
Moral of the story:
Don’t value the things you have in your life. But value who you have in your life.
5. The Four Smart Students
One night four college students were out partying late night and didn’t study for the test which was scheduled for the next day. In the morning, they thought of a plan.
They made themselves look dirty with grease and dirt.
Then they went to the Dean and said they had gone out to a wedding last night and on their way back the tire of their car burst and they had to push the car all the way back. So they were in no condition to take the test.
The Dean thought for a minute and said they can have the re-test after 3 days. They thanked him and said they will be ready by that time.
On the third day, they appeared before the Dean. The Dean said that as this was a Special Condition Test, all four were required to sit in separate classrooms for the test. They all agreed as they had prepared well in the last 3 days.
The Test consisted of only 2 questions with the total of 100 Points:
1) Your Name? __________ (1 Points)
2) Which tire burst? __________ (99 Points) Options – (a) Front Left (b) Front Right (c) Back Left (d) Back Right
Take responsibility or you will learn your lesson.
6. The Greedy Lion
It was an incredibly hot day, and a lion was feeling very hungry.
He came out of his den and searched here and there. He could find only a small hare. He caught the hare with some hesitation. “This hare can’t fill my stomach” thought the lion.
As the lion was about to kill the hare, a deer ran that way. The lion became greedy. He thought;
“Instead of eating this small hare, let me eat the big deer.”
He let the hare go and went behind the deer. But the deer had vanished into the forest. The lion now felt sorry for letting the hare off.
A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.
7. Two Friends & The Bear
Vijay and Raju were friends. On a holiday they went walking into a forest, enjoying the beauty of nature. Suddenly they saw a bear coming at them. They became frightened.
Raju, who knew all about climbing trees, ran up to a tree and climbed up quickly. He didn’t think of Vijay. Vijay had no idea how to climb the tree.
Vijay thought for a second. He’d heard animals don’t prefer dead bodies, so he fell to the ground and held his breath. The bear sniffed him and thought he was dead. So, it went on its way.
Raju asked Vijay;
“What did the bear whisper into your ears?”
Vijay replied, “The bear asked me to keep away from friends like you” …and went on his way.
A friend in need is a friend indeed.
8. The Struggles of Our Life
Once upon a time a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it.
She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.
Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.
Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot and ground coffee beans in the third pot. He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter.
The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. After twenty minutes he turned off the burners.
He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup.
Turning to her, he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?”
“Potatoes, eggs and coffee,” she hastily replied.
“Look closer” he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft.
He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.
“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.
He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity-the boiling water. However, each one reacted differently. The potato went in strong, hard and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.
The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard.
However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.
“Which one are you?” he asked his daughter.
“When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
In life, things happen around us, things happen to us, but the only thing that truly matters is how you choose to react to it and what you make out of it. Life is all about leaning, adopting and converting all the struggles that we experience into something positive.
9. The Fox & The Grapes
One afternoon a fox was walking through the forest and spotted a bunch of grapes hanging from over a lofty branch.
“Just the thing to quench my thirst,” he thought.
Taking a few steps back, the fox jumped and just missed the hanging grapes. Again the fox took a few paces back and tried to reach them but still failed.
Finally, giving up, the fox turned up his nose and said, “They’re probably sour anyway,” and proceeded to walk away.
Moral of the story:
It’s easy to despise what you can’t have.
10. The Lion & The Poor Slave
A slave, ill-treated by his master, runs away to the forest. There he comes across a lion in pain because of a thorn in his paw. The slave bravely goes forward and removes the thorn gently.
The lion without hurting him goes away.
Some days later, the slave’s master comes hunting to the forest and catches many animals and cages them. The slave is spotted by the masters’ men who catch him and bring him to the cruel master.
The master asks for the slave to be thrown into the lion’s cage.
The slave is awaiting his death in the cage when he realizes that it is the same lion that he had helped. The slave rescued the lion and all other caged animals.
One should help others in need, we get the rewards of our helpful acts in return.
Here’s a quick recap on the 10 best short moral stories:
- An old man lived in the village
- The wise man
- The foolish donkey
- Having a best friend
- The four smart students
- The greedy lion
- The two friends & the bear
- The struggles of our life
- The fox & the grapes
- The lion & the poor slave
If you haven’t seen our original article, with slightly more detailed inspirational short stories , check it out!
Do you have any other favorite short moral stories? Leave a comment below.
Who are the best motivational speakers of all time?
Motivational speakers have had an enormous impact on my life, and millions of others, no matter what their personal situation in life may be.
Their words are so powerful and inspirational, you just have to listen to their stuff on a daily basis. So it brings me to this post.
I’ve been enjoying a lot of motivational videos recently, have been creating my own, and have ended up listening to a lot of wonderful speeches.
Top 10 Best Motivational Speakers
But who are the best motivational speakers in the world?
Here’s my list of the top 10 motivational speakers in the world.
These are the people you need to be following, listening to and watching on YouTube. They have transformed many people’s lives including mine.
10. Nick Vujicic
Nick Vujicic was born on December 4th 1982 in Melbourne, Australia. Vujicic was born with Tetra-Amelia syndrome, a very rare disorder whereby someone is born with an absence of all four limbs.
This no doubt ably, made things incredibly tough for Nick growing up, as he struggled both mentally and physically.
It led to him founding his very own non-profit organization called ‘Life Without Limbs’ . Nick Vujicic is a true inspiration to us all, and if you’ve watched some of his motivational speeches on YouTube, you’ll realize just how much he’s been able to adapt to a life without limbs.
Many people with this disorder might not be willing to work hard in order to truly push their abilities.
He can type 43 words a minute on a computer. That’s right, you heard me correctly. This is a guy who has an absence of all four limbs, but can type 43 words per minute on a computer.
I encourage you to watch some of his videos on YouTube, and see exactly what I’m talking about.
“It’s a lie to think you’re not good enough. It’s a lie to think you’re not worth anything.” – nick Vujicic
9. Brian Tracy
Brian Tracy was born on January 5th 1944 in Vancouver, Canada, and is the CEO of Brian Tracy International , a company that specifically sets out to help individuals and organizations develop, train and grow.
Brian’s ultimate goal is to help other people achieve their goals more efficiently and be able to achieve their full potential.
That definitely sets the foundation for being one of the best motivational speakers in the world.
His lifetime achievements are phenomenal, consulting huge numbers of businesses, hosting huge numbers of seminars and conducting years and years of research in Business, Economics, Psychology and Philosophy.
There’s no more to say other than the title given on his website: Professional Speaker, Best Selling Author, Entrepreneur and Success Expert. Check out some of the best Brian Tracy quotes .
“No one lives long enough to learn everything they need to learn starting from scratch. To be successful, we absolutely, positively have to find people who have already paid the price to learn the things that we need to learn to achieve our goals.” – Brian Tracy
8. Robin Sharma
Robin Sharma was born in 1964 in Nepal, and straight out of the Dalhousie University School of Law, became a professional lawyer. But he went much further in his career than being a fully qualified and successful lawyer.
Sharma has written a total of 15 published books, from 1995 – 2011, on the subjects of self-help and leadership. One of his most popular books written; ‘The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari’ , has sold over 5 million copies worldwide.
The book is all about a character called Julian, who decides to sell his home and Ferrari to go on a spiritual journey, after being the victim to a sudden heart attack.
Some may say that Robin Sharma’s more of a motivational author rather than speaker, but he deserves to be on this list. He’s written 12 global best sellers, and is an expert author in the world of leadership and self development.
“Dreamers are mocked as impractical. The truth is they are the most practical, as their innovations lead to progress and a better way of life for all of us.” – Robin S. Sharma
7. Wayne Dyer
Dr. Wayne Dyer was born on May 10th 1940 in Detroit, and spent the majority of his childhood in an orphanage.
Dyer was in the U.S Navy after graduating high school, from 1958 to 1962. He then received his degree in counselling, a profession that he chose to work in for a while before taking it one step further.
Dyer left his teaching job and started pursuing a career in motivational speaking, holding various lectures across the states and becoming an incredibly popular author.
The first book that Dyer ever wrote has now had over 35 million copies sold and he’s proceeded to continue with his lecture tours, release various audio tapes and publish a regular stream of books .
“Passion is a feeling that tells you: this is the right thing to do. Nothing can stand in my way. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says. This feeling is so good that it cannot be ignored. I’m going to follow my bliss and act upon this glorious sensation of joy.” – Wayne Dyer
6. Zig Ziglar
Zig Ziglar was born on November 6th, 1926 in Alabama, and passed away on November 28th in 2012.
Ziglar has 11 siblings, and at the age of five years old, his father died of a stroke, and his sister passed away two days later. Zig actually served in the army from 1935 – 1946 during World War II.
Ziglar met his wife Jean when he was just 17 years old, and after the war began to work as a salesman for many different companies, eventually becoming the vice president for the Automotive Performance company .
He started taking part in motivational seminars, and also wrote his first book in 1975 titled: ‘See You at the Top’ . This was the first of at least 15 books he’d written during the period of 1975 and 2012.
A lot of wisdom has come from Zig Ziglar over the years and he is definitely one of the best motivational speakers in the world.
“You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness.” – Zig Ziglar
5. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger was born on July 30th 1947, in Austria. We all know him as the world famous professional bodybuilding champion, and there’s a very inspirational story behind Arnie’s bodybuilding success.
Schwarzenegger served in the Austrian army at the age of 18 years old for 1 year, which at the time was compulsory for all 18-year-old males.
During this time, he would still manage to fit in his workouts between all the training and drills, whilst most people were resting. He snuck out of the camp to compete in the Junior Mr. Europe contest , which he ended up winning.
Arnold’s discipline towards his training was incredible, and the fact that he was willing to disobey the rules of the army and sneak out of the camp to compete in the contest, just goes to show how badly he wanted it.
Nowadays, he’s an inspiration to many bodybuilders and a great source of motivation for anyone wanting to be successful.
“For me life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
4. Jim Rohn
Jim Rohn was born September 17th, 1930 in Yakima, Washington, and passed away on December 5th, 2009. He was a very successful entrepreneur, at one time being a Vice President of a very successful sales company, Nutri-Bio.
However, after the company eventually went out of business, he was invited to speak at a meeting of one of his clubs.
After this meeting, he was invited to speak at many other events and began making a name for himself. Rohn was a wise businessman and managed to impart much of this wisdom to others.
He’s definitely earned the right to be on this list of the best motivational speakers in the world.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” – Jim Rohn
3. Les Brown
Les Brown was born on February 17th, 1945 in Miami, Florida. He was adopted by Mamie Brown, and whilst in grade school, was declared “educably mentally retarded” .
Despite this and the emotional issues, it brought upon him; he was encouraged by others to continue to learn and be the best he could be. Leading him to unlock his full potential.
Les is another motivational speaker who is incredibly popular among the motivational video compilations that others create. Because his speeches are so deep and meaningful that they really get through to people.
His top-selling books: ‘It’s Not over until You Win!’ and ‘Live Your Dreams’ are truly inspirational and well worth the read.
“When life knocks you down, try to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up. Let your reason get you back up.” – Les Brown
2. Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins was born on February 29th, 1960 in Los Angeles. His life at home when he was young was described by him as abusive and chaotic. It was because of this that he left home at the age of 17.
Originally when starting out in the world of motivational speaking, Robbins was promoting seminars for Jim Rohn. He later decided to begin his own journey by hosting his own seminars.
Tony has affected and changed so many people’s lives in a positive way through his seminars, motivational speeches, inspirational quotes and best-selling books.
Search for him on YouTube and several videos will pop up showing him change someone’s life.
The favorites of mine that I’ve watched, are where he cures a young man’s stutter in 7 minutes and saves another guy’s marriage in 8.
“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” – Tony Robbins
1. Eric Thomas
Eric Thomas, born and raised in Detroit, was homeless at the age of 16 years old. But Eric decided that he wanted to make a better life for himself, to become someone with a life he could be proud of.
E.T did just that, and you can now check out powerful advice from Eric Thomas on YouTube. Including his “Thank God It’s Monday” series.
He also managed to get the education he missed out on whilst he was homeless and pushed himself further to achieve all the qualifications he dreamed of being able to achieve.
Eric Thomas has become one of the best motivational speakers in the world. His YouTube videos are legendary and his best-selling books have taken in millions of dollars in revenue.
E.T’s speeches are so popular, that you’ll find he’s featured in roughly 90% of the motivational videos that others create and upload to YouTube, using compilations of clips, speeches, and music.
“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” – Eric Thomas
I hope you enjoyed this list of the top 10 best motivational speakers in the world. Many of these speakers are featured within some of the videos we included in our new list of ultimate gym motivation . Take a look and see what you think.
Here’s a quick recap on the list of the best motivational speakers in the world::
- Eric Thomas
- Tony Robbins
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Dr. Wayne Dyer
- Robin Sharma
- Brian Tracy
- Nick Vujicic
Who’s your favorite of the 10 best motivational speakers? Do you still agree with the current order of this list? Leave a comment below.
Ever wanted to start reading self-development books, but you’re not sure who the best personal development authors to follow are?
You’re in luck…
I’m about to give you the names of what I believe to be the top 20 best self-development authors to be reading up on. These are names to remember when you’re looking for your next book to buy.
Top 20 Best Personal Development Authors
Here are, in no particular order, the names of the 20 best authors to start reading up on. I would have loved to include a few other names on this list, but the top 20 is what it is!
1. Jack Canfield
Jack Canfield is the legend behind the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series; one of the most popular self-development book series of all time.
Over 250+ books have been published by the company, and Canfield has gone on to become a leading motivational speaker and trainer.
2. Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill is the author behind the notorious ‘Think & Grow Rich’, one of the most popular self-development books of all time.
Hill teaches the principles of attaining any riches you desire in life, and there is so much valuable information within this book, that it’ll always be remembered.
3. Dale Carnegie
Another self-development author you have to check out, and one you’ve probably already heard of, is Dale Carnegie. Carnegie lived from 1888 to 1955, and within his life, published a considerable number of self-help books.
Two of those books, specifically the best selling ones, were ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’ and ‘How to Stop Worrying & Start Living’.
4. Robert B. Cialdini
You probably know Cialdini as the author of ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’. This book is highly regarded as one of the best self-development books of all time, as well as one of the best psychology books to read.
5. Tim Ferriss
If you’re not following Tim Ferriss , I don’t know what you’re doing. There are four best selling books that every Tim Ferriss fan will have read, and they’ve helped change the lives of millions.
Those four books are:
- The Four Hour Work Week
- The Four Hour Body
- Tools For Titans
- Tribe of Mentors
6. Dr. Wayne Dyer
Sadly, Wayne Dyer passed away several years ago. He was an American philosopher, self-help author and motivational speaker. Dyer wrote over 40 books in the field of personal development, and they have sold in tens of millions.
7. John C. Maxwell
John Maxwell is an American author, speaker and pastor. He focuses solely on leadership, and training other to become wise and wonderful leaders.
Maxwell has written a ton of incredible books, however these are some the most popular books he’s written:
- The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
- Developing The Leader Within You
- The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth
- How Successful People Think
- Failing Forward
8. Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins , what a guy! Tony has helped people all over the world to transform their lives, and there’s so much wisdom we can all gain from listening to his speeches, and reading his content.
If you want to learn more about Tony Robbins and his work, you can check out these books:
- Awaken the Giant Within
- Unlimited Power
9. Paulo Coelho
You probably know Paulo Coelho for his best selling book, ‘The Alchemist’. Coelho is a best selling author, lyricist and novelist, and has received many awards for his work over the years.
The Alchemist is definitely a book you should read if you’re an ambitious individual trying to pursue your dreams and overcome any obstacles in your way.
10. Deepak Chopra
Deepak Chopra is an American author, public speaker, alternative medicine advocate, and a prominent figure in the New Age movement.
Chopra has become one of the most influential figures in the area of spiritual healing and alternative medicine. Some of his best selling books you should be adding to your reading list are:
- Re-inventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul
- Creating Affluence
- The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success
11. Peter F. Drucker
Peter Drucker was an Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation.
You probably know him as the author behind ‘Managing Oneself’, and if you don’t, then you should.
12. Martha Beck
Martha Nibley Beck is an American sociologist, life coach, best-selling author, and speaker who travels the world helping people achieve personal and professional goals.
Some of Martha’s most popular books are:
- Finding Your Own North Star
- Find Your Way In A Wild New World
- The 4-Day Win
13. Stephen R. Covey
I first encountered Stephen Covey’s work when I purchased ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, which at the time had sold over 15 million copies!
Covey was an American educator, speaker and author. He sadly passed away 5 years ago, but his work has lived on to be some of the best reading material anybody could ever purchase.
14. Brian Tracy
Brian Tracy is a Canadian-born American motivational public speaker and self-development author. He is the author of over 70 books that have been translated into dozens of languages.
Some of his most notorious books are:
- No Excuses: The Power of Discipline
- Eat That Frog!
15. Les Brown
Les Brown is one of my favorite motivational speakers of all time. Les was labelled educable mentally retarded when he was younger, and was born on the floor of an abandoned building.
Some of his most popular and best selling books are ‘Live Your Dreams’ and ‘It’s Not Over Until You Win’.
16. Jim Rohn
Emanuel James “Jim” Rohn was an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. He was responsible for changing many people’s lives, and even mentored Tony Robbins once upon a time.
These are some of the most popular self-development books by Jim Rohn:
- 7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness
- My Philosophy for Successful Living
- The Keys to Success
17. Gary Keller
Gary Keller is an American entrepreneur and best-selling author. He is the founder of Keller Williams Realty International, which is the largest real estate company in the world by agent count.
You’ve probably heard Keller’s name come up when people talk about ‘The ONE Thing’, his best selling self-help book.
18. Gabrielle Bernstein
Gabrielle Bernstein is an American motivational speaker, life coach, and author. Bernstein teaches primarily from the metaphysical text A Course In Miracles.
Some of here most popular books are:
- Miracles Now
- Spirit Junkie
- May Cause Miracles
- The Universe Has Your Back
19. Brendan Burchard
Brendon Burchard is an American author on motivation and the use of digital and affiliate marketing to sell “info products” based on whatever expertise a person has.
He is most commonly known for his book: The Motivation Manifesto, however he has written several other useful and recommended books on the subject of motivation, such as:
- The Millionaire Messenger
- Life’s Golden Ticket
20. Joel Osteen
Joel Scott Osteen is an American preacher and televangelist. He is the Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, in Houston, Texas. Osteen’s televised sermons are seen by over 7 million viewers weekly and over 20 million monthly in over 100 countries.
Some of his most popular books are:
- Think Better, Live Better Study Guide
- The Power of I Am
- Fresh Start
That concludes the list of the best personal development authors of all time:
- Jack Canfield
- Napoleon Hill
- Dale Carnegie
- Robert B. Cialdini
- John C. Maxwell
- Anthony Robbins
- Paulo Coelho
- Deepak Chopra
- Peter F. Drucker
- Martha Beck
- Stephen R. Covey
- Gary Keller
- Gabrielle Bernstein
- Brendan Burchard
- Joel Osteen
Who are your favorite personal development authors? Leave a comment below.
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15 motivational and inspiring short stories, posted on 30/08/2017 by.
Everyone gets a little down in the dumps sometimes. Rather than searching the internet for cat pictures or drowning your sorrows in junk, check out these motivational short stories. We have put together the best inspirational short stories, both real and fictional, to pull you from your slump, make you smile and inspire you.
The Best 5 Motivational and Inspiring Short Stories About Life
When life has got you in a slump, turn to these inspirational short stories. Not only is reading them like getting an internet hug for the soul, but they just may spark an idea or a change in you for the better. Read on and get ready to smile.
1. Everyone Has a Story in Life
A 24 year old boy seeing out from the train’s window shouted…
“Dad, look the trees are going behind!”
Dad smiled and a young couple sitting nearby, looked at the 24 year old’s childish behavior with pity, suddenly he again exclaimed…
“Dad, look the clouds are running with us!”
The couple couldn’t resist and said to the old man…
“Why don’t you take your son to a good doctor?” The old man smiled and said…“I did and we are just coming from the hospital, my son was blind from birth, he just got his eyes today.”
Every single person on the planet has a story. Don’t judge people before you truly know them. The truth might surprise you.
2. Shake off Your Problems
A man’s favorite donkey falls into a deep precipice. He can’t pull it out no matter how hard he tries. He therefore decides to bury it alive.
Soil is poured onto the donkey from above. The donkey feels the load, shakes it off, and steps on it. More soil is poured.
It shakes it off and steps up. The more the load was poured, the higher it rose. By noon, the donkey was grazing in green pastures.
After much shaking off (of problems) And stepping up (learning from them), One will graze in GREEN PASTURES.
Related: 3 Inspirational Stories That Touch Your Heart
3. The Elephant Rope
As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.
He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.
Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?
Failure is part of learning; we should never give up the struggle in life.
4. Potatoes, Eggs, and Coffee Beans
Once upon a time a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.
Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the third pot.
He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing.
After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.
He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup. Turning to her he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?”
“Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,” she hastily replied.
“Look closer,” he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.
“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.
He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity– the boiling water.
However, each one reacted differently.
The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.
The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard.
However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.
“Which are you,” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean? “
Moral:In life, things happen around us, things happen to us, but the only thing that truly matters is what happens within us.
Which one are you?
5. A Dish of Ice Cream
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.
“How much is an ice cream sundae?”
“50 cents,” replied the waitress.
The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied a number of coins in it.
“How much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he inquired. Some people were now waiting for a table and the waitress was a bit impatient.
“35 cents,” she said brusquely.
The little boy again counted the coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.
The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and departed.
When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the table and then swallowed hard at what she saw.
There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were 15 cents – her tip.
Motivational Stories for Business and Work
Succeeding in business is no easy feat. It’s too easy to let business knock you down. Instead of throwing in the towel when there is a business problem, pick yourself back up, buckle down, and get to work. These motivational stories prove that with a little hard work, any amount of business success is possible.
1. Colonel Sanders | Kentucky Fried Chicken
Once, there was an older man, who was broke, living in a tiny house and owned a beat up car. He was living off of $99 social security checks. At 65 years of age, he decide things had to change. So he thought about what he had to offer. His friends raved about his chicken recipe. He decided that this was his best shot at making a change.
He left Kentucky and traveled to different states to try to sell his recipe. He told restaurant owners that he had a mouthwatering chicken recipe. He offered the recipe to them for free, just asking for a small percentage on the items sold. Sounds like a good deal, right?
Unfortunately, not to most of the restaurants. He heard NO over 1000 times. Even after all of those rejections, he didn’t give up. He believed his chicken recipe was something special. He got rejected 1009 times before he heard his first yes.
With that one success Colonel Hartland Sanders changed the way Americans eat chicken. Kentucky Fried Chicken, popularly known as KFC, was born.
Remember, never give up and always believe in yourself in spite of rejection.
2. The Obstacle in our Path
There once was a very wealthy and curious king. This king had a huge boulder placed in the middle of a road. Then he hid nearby to see if anyone would try to remove the gigantic rock from the road.
The first people to pass by were some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers. Rather than moving it, they simply walked around it. A few loudly blamed the King for not maintaining the roads. Not one of them tried to move the boulder.
Finally, a peasant came along. His arms were full of vegetables. When he got near the boulder, rather than simply walking around it as the others had, the peasant put down his load and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. It took a lot of effort but he finally succeeded.
The peasant gathered up his load and was ready to go on his way when he say a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The peasant opened the purse. The purse was stuffed full of gold coins and a note from the king. The king’s note said the purse’s gold was a reward for moving the boulder from the road.
The king showed the peasant what many of us never understand: every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.
A popular speaker started off a seminar by holding up a $20 bill. A crowd of 200 had gathered to hear him speak. He asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?”
200 hands went up.
He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.” He crumpled the bill up.
He then asked, “Who still wants it?”
All 200 hands were still raised.
“Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” Then he dropped the bill on the ground and stomped on it with his shoes.
He picked it up, and showed it to the crowd. The bill was all crumpled and dirty.
“Now who still wants it?”
All the hands still went up.
“My friends, I have just showed you a very important lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, life crumples us and grinds us into the dirt. We make bad decisions or deal with poor circumstances. We feel worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. You are special – Don’t ever forget it!
4. A Very Special Bank Account
Imagine you had a bank account that deposited $86,400 each morning. The account carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every dollar each day!
We all have such a bank. Its name is Time. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever time you have failed to use wisely. It carries over no balance from day to day. It allows no overdraft so you can’t borrow against yourself or use more time than you have. Each day, the account starts fresh. Each night, it destroys an unused time. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, it’s your loss and you can’t appeal to get it back.
There is never any borrowing time. You can’t take a loan out on your time or against someone else’s. The time you have is the time you have and that is that. Time management is yours to decide how you spend the time, just as with money you decide how you spend the money. It is never the case of us not having enough time to do things, but the case of whether we want to do them and where they fall in our priorities.
Losing weight feels like a constant uphill battle. Shedding stubborn pounds and getting healthy can be a lot of hard work. During a plateau or at the beginning of the a weight loss journey, it’s easy to be discouraged. Find ways to motivate yourself, like reading these inspirational weight loss stories. Know if they can do it, so can you!
Extreme Makeover features a celebrity trainer helping very overweight individuals reach their weight loss goals. Sometimes, their attitudes aren’t great, but other times, the people on the show are truly amazing, like Sara. Sara is a little person, standing at only 4’5″. She was a nutrition speaker on local television shows at the start of her journey, but ashamed of herself. Not only had she spent her life dealing with her short stature, but she had suffered greatly at the hands of her sister. She turned to eating and by the time she was 37 years old, weighed over 200 pounds.
When she began her time on Extreme Makeover, her first challenge was to climb the stairs of an amphitheater holding an 80 pound weight. The stairs came up past her knees. But she didn’t complain once. She kept going. Slowly, all the people in the theater started to watch her. By the time she reached the last step, the crowd cheered for her.
Her trainer gave her the goal to run a half marathon 6 months after starting her diet and exercise program. Sara said no. She wouldn’t run the half. Instead she would run a full marathon. Her trainer advised against it because it would be extra hard on her body. She’d have to take many extra strides due to her short stature. Sara didn’t care. She ran the whole marathon.
She succeeded in loosing more than half her body weight and becoming a runner, like she had always dreamed.
2. Winning the Battle
Adrienne Brown shared her weight loss journey with Good Housekeeping . Adrienne loved to eat and was a bit food obsessed. As an adult, she owned two refrigerators stocked with food. She was already overweight at 180 pounds when her weight shot up as she battled breast cancer.
Adrienne got serious about her health during her battle with cancer. Inspired by Jennifer Garner in Alias and determined to be healthier, Adrienne lost 90 pounds in a year by eliminating processed foods and exercising. She made it manageable by breaking her goal into 10 pound increments and keeping a positive attitude.
Related: The Weight Loss Wonder Forskolin: A Beginner’s Guide
3. The Weight Was Wrong
Drew Carey has spent much of his career in the spotlight. Fans of the comedic actor remember him as the overweight star of the Drew Carey Show . He shocked his following by appearing on his new job as the host of the The Price is Right , a full 80 pounds lighter. There was no magic trick to his weight loss. Carey lost weight the old fashioned way, by counting calories and logging 45 minute cardio sessions on the treadmill.
Remember, you don’t have to try the newest fad ( The 3 Day Military Diet ). Find what works for you and just stick with it. Little by little you will reach your goals.
Funny Motivational Stories
These funny motivational stories will give your attitude a little nudge in the right direction. They are also guaranteed to put a smile on your face and may even make you chuckle.
1. The Dean Schooled Them
One night four college kids stayed out late, partying and having a good time. They paid no mind to the test they had scheduled for the next day and didn’t study. In the morning, they hatched a plan to get out of taking their test. They covered themselves with grease and dirt and went to the Dean’s office. Once there, they said they had been to a wedding the previous night and on the way back they got a flat tire and had to push the car back to campus.
The Dean listened to their tale of woe and thought. He offered them a retest three days later. They thanked him and accepted his offer.hat time.
When the test day arrived, they went to the Dean. The Dean put them all in separate rooms for the test. They were fine with this since they had all studied hard. Then they saw the test. It had 2 questions.
1) Your Name __________ (1 Points)
2) Which tire burst? __________ (99 Points) Options – (a) Front Left (b) Front Right (c) Back Left (d) Back Right
The lesson: always be responsible and make wise decisions.
2. The Right Place
A mother and a baby camel were lying around under a tree.
Then the baby camel asked, “Why do camels have humps?”
The mother camel considered this and said, “We are desert animals so we have the humps to store water so we can survive with very little water.”
The baby camel thought for a moment then said, “Ok…why are our legs long and our feet rounded?”
The mama replied, “They are meant for walking in the desert.”
The baby paused. After a beat, the camel asked, “Why are our eyelashes long? Sometimes they get in my way.”
The mama responded, “Those long thick eyelashes protect your eyes from the desert sand when it blows in the wind.
The baby thought and thought. Then he said, “I see. So the hump is to store water when we are in the desert, the legs are for walking through the desert and these eye lashes protect my eyes from the desert then why in the Zoo?”
The Lesson: Skills and abilities are only useful if you are in the right place at the right time. Otherwise they go to waste.
3. On God’s Time
A man walked to the top of a hill to talk to God.
The man asked, “God, what’s a million years to you?” and God said, “A minute.”
Then the man asked, “Well, what’s a million dollars to you?” and God said, “A penny.”
Then the man asked, “God…..can I have a penny?” and God said, “Sure…..in a minute.”
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