It’s not easy to compile a list of short stories that are beautiful, powerful or thought provoking, but I’ll give it a try. Here are the best short stories to read online, with a cup of coffee and some cookies aside. Enjoy.

Best Short Stories to Read: The Egg by Andy Weir

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing  yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself.  Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will  be, experienced by you.”
You thought for a long time.
“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”
“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”
“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”
“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived  every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be  born.”
“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”
“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.” read the full story

 

Best Short Stories to Read: Cookies by Douglas Adams

This actually did happen to a real person, and the real  person was me. I had gone to catch a train. This was April 1976, in  Cambridge, U.K. I was a bit early for the train. I’d gotten the time of  the train wrong. I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword,  and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table.

I want you to picture the scene. It’s very important that you get  this very clear in your mind. Here’s the table, newspaper, cup of  coffee, packet of cookies. There’s a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly  ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase. It  didn’t look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was  this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore  it open, took one out, and ate it.

Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There’s nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies. read the full story

 

Best Short Stories to Read: The Night I Met Einstein

Einstein and I came hastily to our feet. “I am sorry, too,” he said. “My young friend here and I, however, were engaged in the greatest activity of which man is capable.”

She looked puzzled. “Really?” she said. “And what is that?”

Einstein smiled and put his arm across my shoulders. And he uttered ten words that – for at least one person who is in his endless debt – are his epitaph:

“Opening up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty.” read the full story

 

Best Short Stories to Read: A Short Story from The Alchemist

“Then go back and observe the marvels of my world,” said the wise man. “You cannot trust a man if you don’t know his house.”
Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration  of the palace, this time observing all of the works of art on the  ceilings and the walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around  him, the beauty of the flowers, and the taste with which everything had  been selected. Upon returning to the wise man, he related in detail  everything he had seen.
“But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you?” asked the wise  man. Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil was  gone.
“Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you,” said the wisest of wise men.
“The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.” read the full story

 

Best Short Stories to Read: A father left 17 camels

The wise man listened patiently about the will. The wise man, after giving this thought, brought one camel of his own and added the same to 17. That increased the total to 18 camels.

Now, he started reading the deceased father’s will.

Half of 18 = 9. So he gave 9 camels to the eldest son.

1/3rd of 18 = 6. So he gave 6 camels to the middle son.

1/9th of 18 = 2. So he gave 2 camels to the youngest son.

Now add this up: 9 + 6 + 2 = 17. This leaves 1 camel, which the wise man took back. read the full story

 

Best Short Stories to Read: The Gift of Understanding

My mother scolded me about going all that way alone when she found me out. I don’t think it ever occurred to her to ask about the financial arrangement. I was simply cautioned not to go again unless I asked first. I must have obeyed, and evidently, when permission was granted for me to go again, a penny or two was given to me for my purchases, since I don’t remember using cherry-stones a second time. In fact, the affair, insignificant to me then, was soon forgotten in the busy occupation of growing up.
When I was six or seven years old my family moved to another town, where I grew up, eventually married and established my own family. My wife and I opened a shop where we bred and sold tropical fish. The aquarium trade was then still in its infancy, and most of the fish were imported from Africa and South America. Few species sold for less then five dollar a pair.
One sunny afternoon a little girl came in accompanied by her brother. They were perhaps five and six years old. I was busy cleaning the tanks. The two children stood with wide, round eyes, staring at the jeweled beauties swimming in the crystal-clear water. “Gosh,” exclaimed the boy, “can we buy some?”
“Yes,” I replied. “If you can pay for them.” read the full story

 

Best Short Stories to Read: The World as a Mirror

“Why do you weep?” the goddesses asked.
“I weep for Narcissus,” the lake replied.
“Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus,” they said, “for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand.”
“But…was Narcissus beautiful?” the lake asked.
“Who better than you to know that?” the goddesses said in wonder. “After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!” read the full story

 

Best Short Stories to Read: The Man from When

“Yes. You see, there was such an expenditure of energy that it completely wiped out the Earth of my time. The force blasted me all the way through space to this spot. By the way, I am sorry if I disturbed you.”

“It was nothing, nothing at all. Forget it.”

“Well, in any event, I took the chance and I’m not sorry. A calculated risk, but I proved my point. In spite of everything, I still think it was worth it. What do you think?”

“Well, as you said, you took the chance; you proved your point. I suppose it was worth it.” Smith took a final drink, saving a few glimmering drops for his guest. “By the way, how far from the future did you travel?”

The time traveler grabbed the gin bottle and consulted his watch. “Eighteen minutes,” he replied.

“It wasn’t worth it,” said Smith. read the full story

 

Best Short Stories to Read: A Businessman And A Cheque Story

A Businessman was deep in debt and could not see any way out.

Creditors and Suppliers were demanding payments. He sat in the park, deep in thought, wondering if anything could save his company from bankruptcy.

Suddenly an old man appeared before him and asked, “I can see that something is troubling you seriously”.

After listening patiently the old man said, “I believe I can help you”.
He asked the man his name, wrote out a cheque and put it into his hands saying, “Take this money, meet me here exactly one year from today… and you can pay me back at that time”.

Then he turned and disappeared as quickly as he had come.

The businessman saw in his hands a cheque for $ 500,000… signed by Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world.
“I can erase my worries instantly” he realized. read the full story

 

Best Short Stories to Read: The Last Leaf by O. Henry

In a little district west of Washington Square the streets have run  crazy and broken themselves into small strips called “places.” These  “places” make strange angles and curves. One Street crosses itself a  time or two. An artist once discovered a valuable possibility in this  street. Suppose a collector with a bill for paints, paper and canvas  should, in traversing this route, suddenly meet himself coming back,  without a cent having been paid on account!

So, to quaint old  Greenwich Village the art people soon came prowling, hunting for north  windows and eighteenth-century gables and Dutch attics and low rents.  Then they imported some pewter mugs and a chafing dish or two from Sixth  Avenue, and became a “colony.”

At the top of a squatty,  three-story brick Sue and Johnsy had their studio. “Johnsy” was familiar  for Joanna. One was from Maine; the other from California. They had met  at the table d’hôte of an Eighth Street “Delmonico’s,” and found their  tastes in art, chicory salad and bishop sleeves so congenial that the  joint studio resulted. read the full story

 

Best Short Stories to Read: The Last Question by Isaac Asimov

The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five-dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way:

Alexander Adell and Bertram Lupov were two of the faithful attendants of Multivac. As well as any human beings could, they knew what lay behind the cold, clicking, flashing face — miles and miles of face — of that giant computer. They had at least a vague notion of the general plan of relays and circuits that had long since grown past the point where any single human could possibly have a firm grasp of the whole.

Multivac was self-adjusting and self-correcting. It had to be, for nothing human could adjust and correct it quickly enough or even adequately enough. So Adell and Lupov attended the monstrous giant only lightly and superficially, yet as well as any men could. They fed it data, adjusted questions to its needs and translated the answers that were issued. Certainly they, and all others like them, were fully entitled to share in the glory that was Multivac’s. read the full story

 

Best Short Stories to Read.