DiscoverLitReading - Classic Short Stories
LitReading - Classic Short Stories
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LitReading - Classic Short Stories

Author: Don McDonald

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Humans have shared stories for millennia. For most of that time, telling tales was a verbal process. A storyteller would regale an audience with accounts of adventure, bravery, compassion, despair, enlightenment, and fear. Stories were a shared experience, until the advent of inexpensive mass-printing processes in the 19th century which allowed most of us to read to ourselves. Yet, that desire to have a story read aloud is still ingrained in our collective soul.

While we still read books for pleasure, most of today’s stories are told via newer forms of visual media like movies and television. Consuming stories via any visual medium requires an active commitment to the process. You probably shouldn’t read a book or watch a TV program while driving, but your brain still craves a good story.

An audio book is suitable for a long road trip. But what about those times when you only have a few minutes? Enter the audio short story.

Allow me to help you fill those moments and fulfill your need for a captivating tale with readings of some of the world’s greatest literary masters best brief works.

My love of the spoken word has been honed by a more than 30-year career in radio and voice acting with a modicum of performance passion from decades of stage performances.

This venture is my hobby (I have a great full-time job), so much of the content is free of cost. I hope you enjoy them.

If you would like to share thoughts or comments, please drop me a line. If you enjoy these stories, please spread the word, subscribe, and leave a review on your favorite podcast service.

Thanks for stopping by,
Don McDonald
89 Episodes
Clovis takes on an overly proud mother
As the owner of a 19th century home, I often think about those lives lived here before us and what they must have been like. As our homes are so much a part of us, do this who have gone before us leave traces of their lives and loves behind. Here is a very short, yet poignant tale of just such an old house.It seems that the author experienced the feeling of something lurk at the edge of human senses, feelings, powerful emotions. This unique story is straddles prose and poetry as does much of Virginia Woolf’s work.Woolf’s unique writing talents came naturally from her well read parents. Her father, Sir Leslie Stephen (he was knighted for his literary services), was the creator of the Oxford Dictionary of Biography.
Late 19th and early 20th century science fiction writers were fascinated with the wild and relatively unknown regions of the world from which they imagined all manner of invaders from insects to lizards, even giant apes. H.G. Wells was a master of using out irrational fears of the unknown to craft masterful stories that still resonate today. In today’s story, the true tales of giant Amazonian ants is magnified into a tale much like a terrestrial “War of the Worlds.” Herbert George Wells was one of the preeminent science fiction writers of his day and his tales, including this one, have been the basis of dozens of movies. 1977’s “Empire of the Ants,” very loosely based on the short story, has the distinction of being one of the very worst.
Professional baseball in United States dates back more than 150 years. It has been considered the great American sport since the 19th century. Popular sports attract rabid fans as was the case even back in 1910 when Zane Grey wrote Old Well Well.Known for his Western novels, Zane Gray was one of the most popular authors of the 20th century. Gray was also a huge baseball fan and published a number of stories about the sport. One of the first American authors to become a millionaire, more than 100 movies were made from his popular tales.
Not all dragons are fire breathing monsters bent on destruction.
Early in the US Civil War, families, particularly those in the western part of Virginia (now the state of West Virginia), were torn apart over conflicting loyalties. This story is a fictional account of one young soldier who chose to fight for his country rather than his state.Ambrose served in the Union Army during the Civil War. He became the most famous Civil War storyteller of all time. This story was first published in the San Francisco Examiner in 1889. Years later, Bierce vanished while travel with rebel troops during the Mexican Revolutionary War in 1913.If you haven’t yet, you should also listen to Bierce’s most famous story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” also on Litreading.
There is nothing like a corporate bureaucracy to raise someone's ire.
There is something special about the Old West. Life is the western United States for much of the 19th century was akin to living in another country, which makes sense as it was cobbled together from many diverse societies. Our next story takes place in the Great Southwest and involves a potential love triangle gone very wrong.During his short life, Frank Norris had an outsized impact on American Literature. A painter turned author, Norris travelled globally as a news correspondent writing several short stories and novels. His finest work, The Octopus was intended as the first book of a trilogy on which he was working when he died during appendicitis surgery at the age of 34.
Without individual compassion, the good, old days were rarely good for orphaned or disabled children.
Dusk by Saki

Dusk by Saki


A young man seeks help from a stranger on a park bench. Does he deserve it?
Saki (or H.H. Munro) is considered to be one of the greatest short story masters of all-time for his biting humor and spot on satire as evidenced by the unique story in the form of a playlet.Saki (the pen name of H.H. Munro) was a prolific and witty short storyist of the early 20th century. A 1910 review of his worked stated that “Saki has one of the lightest and most entertaining touches of the humorists of the day.” He died from a sniper’s bullet in France during WWI.
What would you do if your conscience no longer nagged you?
Thankfully, I can now read Hemingway to you. This story is a powerful way to start. It’s a tale of duty, pain, suffering, racism and so much more. It has myriad twists and turns and all manner of fascinating subplots for such a short story. You may need to listen more than once. Hemingway penned this early work at the age of 24, shortly after the birth of his first child (which may explain the subject matter) by his first wife. It wasn’t published until 1925 and later became part of his first short story collection.
Tobermory by Saki

Tobermory by Saki


Since we just shared a cat story, how about another one from our story archive? Here is a biting satire of Victorian Era British upper class from the perspective of the family cat who gains a startling new skill.Saki was the pen name of British author, H.H. Munro who was one of true masters of the short story.
Being a dog person, some of my favorite stories feature dogs. It only seems fair to feature a feline character. And you couldn’t ask for a story than one from a two time Pulitzer Prize winner.This story was part of Booth Tarkington’s extremely popular Penrod stories, that, during their day rivaled the popularity of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Tarkington is only one of three authors to win two Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction. The other two: Faulkner and Updike.
While forward to the future we often forget the darkness that is part of life.
A young man's longing for love is briefly fulfilled on one moonlight evening on the sea off the coast of Cannes.
Welcome aboard an early 20th Century trans-pacific ocean liner where one is likely to be stuck for weeks with any number of unusual characters. Of course, we are likely to put a great deal of stock in first impressions when it often pays to wait to get to know someone.Never a darling of the critics, W. Someset Maugham (the W is for William) was a prolific author and playwright. He was best known for his short stories many of which were fictional global travelogues. Because so many of his works were turned into early motion pictures, Maugham was the world’s best paid writer in the 1930s.
A rural mountain couple struggle with their differences, anger, and overpowering love for each other.
So far, all of our public domain stories were created prior to 1925. However, there are a few newer tales that are no longer copyright protected. From one of the world’s best science fiction writer’s comes a tale of idioms and aliens.Essentially, this story is a long dad joke. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I, a dad, did.Even if you don’t know his name, you know the work of Philip K. Dick. Several of his books and stories have been adapted into movies and Tv shows like: Total Recall, Minority Report and Man in the High Castle. He died in 1982 of a stroke just four months before his blockbuster movie, Blade Runner opened.
Comments (1)

farshid marefat


Feb 4th
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