Where to find free short stories online
Short stories are a great way to learn about new writers or get a taste of different genres. There are classic short stories that you can read in under an hour, but leave you feeling like a better reader for reading them. In a previous post I mentioned that they are also a great way to break a reading crunch and can be compiled on reading apps like Poached. They’re a great companion during lunch breaks, on planes, in line-ups, or when you’re bored at work (they can be easily concealed on a web browser or on your phone).
I spend too much money on books, so sometimes it’s nice to read free stuff, and the internet has no shortage of places to find great stories that are free to read on your computer, tablet, or phone. I have compiled 20 different websites where I regularly find free news.
Narrative Review is a free space for readers to enjoy some of the best short stories, essays, and poems written by established and emerging writers. They also have a series called “Tell me a story”, a high school essay writing competition that encourages young writers to submit essays by responding to a single prompt. It is a non-profit organization and appreciate the gifts, but it’s completely voluntary. Find new stories from writers like Min Jin Lee, or classics like “Death in the woods“by Sherwood Anderson. Story is a treasure.
The New Yorker is “free” until you receive the pop-up message on your screen that says “you’ve hit the wall”, which means there is no more mooching; time to subscribe. And well worth it, but pricey, so if you’re cheap like me, pick the stories you read on The New Yorker judiciously. But seriously, is there anything better than The New Yorker? It is definitely worth subscribing.
A great resource for finding information on new books, old books and upcoming books; Electric literature is also a great place to find short stories. Their “recommended reading” section has some great short stories; or you can find “poetry, essays and graphic narratives” in “The Commuter”. Electric literature is a non-profit organization, and much like Story they work hard to promote new and emerging writers.
Wattpad is a read / write interface that allows users to easily access over three million different stories through their website or by downloading the app. It’s also a great place to submit short stories if you’re interested in writing. The site is open to anyone, regardless of their level of writing experience. If you’re more interested in reading than writing, topics range from adventure and teen fiction to fan fiction, poetry, and horror. There is a bit of something for everyone.
As The New Yorker, Granta is a literary magazine that limits the number of articles you can read for free digitally. So choose wisely. But as The New Yorker, Granta publishes the best writings. In their own words: “Granta does not have a political or literary manifesto, but he believes in the power and urgency of history and in its supreme capacity to describe, enlighten and concretize. So basically it’s worth the price if you’re willing to subscribe.
Tor.com is a fantasy / science fiction website that allows free access to news posted on their website. One of my favorite news on Tor.com is Rachel Swirsky’s “A windy memory“, which concerns Iphigenia before Agamemnon’s sacrifice. You can also find stories of Seanan McGuire, Jonathan carroll, Marie Robinette Kowal, and JY Yang (to only cite a few). It’s still one of my favorite places to find new writers.
Like Tor.com, Lightspeed is a digital magazine that publishes short stories from authors like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, NK Jemisin, Ted Chiang, and Ken Liu. You can choose to subscribe for 12 months, which will give you access to over 100 short stories, as well as author interviews and other non-fictional content. But, if you’d rather give it a go and choose not to subscribe, there’s still a ton of free content available.
A literary magazine published every three years that publishes short films by established and emerging writers; American fiction short film published Laura van den Berg and Roxane Gay. Many of their stories appeared in the year-end collection The best American news.
Atlantic is renowned for its journalism, but they also publish superb short stories from well-established and emerging writers. You can access articles from the current issue of the magazine or from their archives. I would recommend Helen Phillips (The need and The beautiful bureaucrat) short story “The wall. “
The best source for public domain books, short stories and poetry; Gutenberg Project claims over 60,000 free ebooks. You don’t need to download any special apps to read their content; the books or news will be uploaded to whatever you use to read other digital books.
Guernica is a nonprofit digital magazine that publishes just about everything from poetry to fiction, comics, interviews, and essays. You will inevitably find something wonderful to read from Guernica.
If you are from a specific region of the United States that you believe is under-represented in the publishing industry, Land of joy would be a great place to start looking for stories from writers across the country. The magazine divides their stories into regions, so there are stories from: New York, the Pacific Northwest (PNW), the South, the Midwest, the West and Canada. Writers like Roxane Gay, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Lydia Millet have all had stories published by Land of joy.
Terraform (of Vice) publishes science fiction news. They argue that although science fiction is very popular on television and in film, “there is a marked shortage of science fiction in its purest form, arguably its original form – short fiction.” So if you’re nostalgic for the science fiction of yesteryear, give it a try Terraform.
Paper Darts is a “LIT + ART magazine fueled by volunteers and imaginary money since 2009”. They also have short, original stories, and you should read the stories they offer online for free, but if you can, you should purchase the hard copy of the magazine as well.
Midnight breakfast is a free online literary magazine that publishes short stories, essays, and non-fiction works. They post stories and ideas from diverse voices and seek to ‘spark conversation’ with ‘good fatty food friends’. So if that intrigues you, check out their very eclectic catalog of free stories.
Virginia Quarterly Review publishes criticism, poetry, photography and fiction (short stories). The most popular news currently on their website is “Cookie box. The fall issue of the print magazine is called ‘Bedtime Stories’ and deals with childhood stories, their importance and how they shape our lives. They also have a profile of Oliver Jeffers, the author many award-winning picture books, so basically if you’re looking for something beyond fiction, they’ve got you covered.
the Paris reviewOne of my favorite things is Instagram’s account:
A constant source of wisdom and comfort, the magazine claims to write the crème de la crème of the literary world. You can read short stories online, listen to their podcast (which also features short stories read by the author), or if you want to shell out a few bucks, you can buy the current issue for $ 20.
Kenyon Reviews is a “multiplatform organization” with fiction, reviews, poetry and essays available in their print magazine (six issues published per year), on KROnline or KR Reviews. If you’re looking for short stories that you can read online for free, you’ll want to stick with KROnline, which offers both new and archived stories for your reading.
If you are only looking for the classics and want a really simple and user-friendly experience, give the website a try. Classic short stories. They have stories from authors like George Saunders, Katherine Mansfield, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Unlike some of the other publications and websites that I have listed, everything is available for free.
I grew up listening to Levar Burton read more Rainbow reading. His voice is a balm for my soul. He could read me the phone book and I would be in love, but the stories he chooses for his podcast are always the best stories from the best writers. This season he read Samantha Schweblin, Ted Chiang and NK Jemisin. So if you prefer to listen to short stories on your commute or while you run or do household chores, try Levar Burton bed.
Need more? Try 18 Awesome News You Can Read For Free Online, 4 Must-Read Black Fiction Magazines, and 101 Literary Magazines