FAVORITE SHORT STORIES–WHAT’S YOURS? by Cheryl Pierson

Do you like short stories? I love them, both as a writer and as a reader. I’m so thrilled that they’re making a comeback in today’s world! I remember as a teenager in high school English class, some of the short stories that were taught at the time. You can probably recall these classes, too—we read many short stories and novels that couldn’t reach into our world and touch us, not at that age.

It’s odd to me that had some of the selections been different, or more age-appropriate, this might have fostered a love of reading the short story rather than dread for so many. The essay questions at the end of the story seemed hard for many of the students to understand, much less formulate answers to in order to show what they learned from the story. As high school freshmen in the 14-15 year-old age range, and with our limited knowledge of the world, it was difficult for some to be able to grasp symbolism or foreshadowing among other story elements. I realized later on that some people never grasp it, no matter how old they are. Reading with that kind of intuitive understanding is not something everyone is able to do.The Lady or the Tiger

Being forced to read something for a grade rather than enjoyment was something I didn’t understand. For one thing, I enjoyed reading. As with any kid, some things held my interest more than others. But I never could fathom some of my classmates who actually said, “I hate to read.”

The Most Dangerous GameI had some favorite short stories, even out of the ones we were forced to read. Who could forget Whitney and Rainsford in Richard Connell’s THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME? Frank Stockton’s THE LADY OR THE TIGER? Or, TO BUILD A FIRE, by Jack London?

Those stories were what inspired me to want to write “like that” and I often wondered in later years, seeing my kids’ English books and the stories they contained, where our next generation of writers would come from? There was certainly nothing “inspiring” in those stories. I was wishing there were some of the stories from “the good ol’ days” in their books, even though at the time I had been their age, many of my classmates had detested those same stories that I loved so much.

But one day, my daughter came home from school and said, “Mom, we read a story today that was so To Build a Firecamp-firegood! It’s about a guy who is trying to survive in the cold and he tries to build a fire…” And a few years later, my son couldn’t wait to tell me about a story they’d read about an island, where men were hunted…

Not everyone who loves to read wants to become a writer.  So I’m wondering…was there a particular short story that you read when you were younger that made you want to write? Or one that made you become an avid reader? Since so many of us write westerns, was there a western short story that influenced you when you were younger? The one that I loved was not really a short story, but a short novel, Fred Gipson’s OLD YELLER.Old Yeller

In later years, another one that stood out was Shirley Jackson’s THE LOTTERY.

 

I’d have to say one of my all-time favorite short stories is  Dorothy M. Johnson’s  LOST SISTER–this is a fictional story based on Cynthia Ann Parker’s real life story of being kidnapped by the Comanche, and marrying a Comanche chief. She later became the mother of another prominent chief, Quanah Parker. LOST SISTER is a story that you will remember long after you finish reading it!

 

 

What’s your favorite short story? It doesn’t have to be a western. I’d love to hear what your favorite(s) are. My TBR list is bursting at the seams anyhow, but I can’t stop myself from adding to it when I hear about MORE great reads!

 

I’m giving away a free print copy of one of my short story collections today, DARK TRAIL RISING.  All you have to do is comment, and check back later this evening to see if you won!

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Cheryl Pierson
A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 37 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
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24 Comments

  1. Good morning. I finished Your book Dark Trails Rising and Here is nub review. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
    My favorite short story that would be hard. I love all of yours I’ve read. I’ll have to think about that for a while.

    Cheryl Pierson writes true grit westerns, no flowery stories in her books. Very powerful and unforgettable.
    THE KEEPERS OF CAMELOT was a beautiful story of King Arthur, Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot, set in the old west. They have all found their forgiveness and are finally laid to rest. All except King Arthur who has one more important mission, the most inspirational one, yet. A beautiful touching tale.
    THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS- Jericho Dean has lost everything, his wife, two precious daughters, and his reason for living to the hands of the Tidwell gang. A stranger, Freedom Hart ventures into his camp one night and Jericho’s journey is about to begin. Beautiful redemption found.
    SHOT FOR A DOG- This is one powerful story of jealousy, hate, and greed. Salvation is just but a fingertip away for all of us to take. Responsibility for our actions and the ability to right our wrongs, before it is too late. Luke took life into his own hands, and he paid for it dearly with his soul. A great lesson to ask for salvation before it’s too late.
    HIDDEN TRAILS and the mystery incorporated in Levi and Valentine’s past was poetic. Two lost souls who found one another during a blowing snowstorm. One was hiding from her evil father, one was riding from his tortured past. As evil finds them can they survive and live together in harmony? An inspirational story of love, compassion, and healing.
    This entire collection of short stories will move you in both heart and soul.

    1. Tonya, bless your heart, and thanks so much for stopping by today! What a wonderful review–I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this!

      And oh, gosh, yes, there are so many wonderful short stories out there it is really hard to just pick one, or even ten! LOL

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for this wonderful review!

  2. I really loved stories by Louis L’Amur. HE created incredible heroes and put them in page turning plots.

    1. Debra, I loved him, too. I think he has to be my favorite western writer. He surely did keep a reader turning those pages!

      Thanks for stopping by today!

  3. I never really wanted to be a writer, but I have always loved reading.

    1. Hi Janine! I have always loved reading, too. Both my parents read to me and I carried on the tradition, reading to both my kids even after they could read for themselves. We all loved that time spent together!

  4. Old Yeller was such a special story. When I was a child, my daddy bought me that book and The Yearling. All these many years later, probably 50 or more, I gifted them to my grandson. We have a great picture of my dad, me, my grandson and those wonderful books.

    1. That is soooo cool, Melanie! I didn’t read Old Yeller til long after I saw the movie. Oh, that movie was a heartbreaker! I was much older when I read the book, but still cried like a baby, even though I knew what was coming. Passing on books is a wonderful tradition to keep!

  5. Oh my gosh! First — I HATED “The Lottery” when we had to read it in school – but the funny thing is, that story stuck with me! I HURT reading it and couldn’t believe my teacher made me! I cried racking sobs. Ugh. Okay, gotta move on from that! haha! 🙂

    (pause to breathe and collect myself)

    I’ve always loved reading, and in fact, my mom started teaching me at 3yrs old to read myself because I was always wanting to be in a book. Hehe — I still have my first readers too! I loved reading/literature classes in school (well, most of the time — see above freak out!) but disliked with a passion the critical thinking questions. I couldn’t understand why I just couldn’t read and enjoy the story as it was and not have to dissect it apart. Although, now that I’m thinking, I LOVED “The Gift of the Magi” by O Henry — but then again, I disliked it too….. sheesh. My heart broke in that story too, but not as much and not the same way as that other one that shall not be named again. haha! I’d have to say, though, probably the Little House on the Prairie books were some of my all time favorites, although they weren’t really short stories. The Outsiders was really good too.

    Now that I’m older and able to read without having to critically think (wait, I still write book reviews so I guess I’m still critically thinking to a point…..), I have found I love all lengths of books — from the epic long 600 page tomes to the sweet and quick feel good 50 pages. Depends on my mood and what my adulting schedule looks like. But my quick short story books better have a HEA and be a *GOOD* story! Any time I spend in a book I want to be swept away, whether it takes me a hour or so to read or a week.

    1. LOL Michelle! I remember reading The Lottery in high school, and the SHOCK I felt when we finally knew what was going to happen. Then I took a speech class, and that was the play our teacher chose for us to do. I guess that’s the mark of a good story–you hated it, but it stayed with you all these years! (You made me laugh, girl!)

      Most of the O. Henry stories were heartbreaking in a way–except The Ransom of Red Chief. LOL He was quite a character, but the way he told his stories was so incredible–here we are still talking about them all these years later!

      The Outsiders was written by S. E. Hinton who was a TEENAGER when she wrote that! She is from Tulsa, OK and wrote that when she was only 17. I was just in shock when I found that out.

      I love books of all lengths, too. My romance short stories I read need to have an HEA, but those wonderful stories we read in our high school and college lit classes didn’t all have an HEA and some of them were so memorable and wonderful…still, I don’t think I could ever write one that DIDN’T have an HEA…I just want everyone to have a good life, darn it! LOL

      Thanks for stopping by today!

  6. I loved reading before I started school so it was more a matter of how much enjoyment I got out of what I read or not. The story that stands out for me was Jack London’s. Although not truly a short story, I always remember The Red Badge of Courage by Stephan Crane, too. Now, as for Old Yeller, I didn’t read the book but saw the Disney movie at a young age and was traumatized by the loss of the dog, which has made me leery of Disney to this very day! 😉

    1. Eliza, isn’t that the truth about Disney? Every one of their movies had something really sad in them–Pinocchio dying, Bambi’s mother being shot and killed, Old Yeller being killed, Snow White–shudder! Still, I took my kids to see them, too, and bought the videos when they came out…what was I thinking? LOL

      At the time we read some of these stories in high school and even college–so many thought of them as boring and not something they wanted to spend time on. I truly believe it was because our age/life experiences were not a match for what the stories were trying to tell us. Reading some of these later on in life, I “got it” and really did love them.

  7. Hi Cheryl!

    Great post. My most favorite short stories are a collection called Ole Doc Methuselah by L. Ron Hubbard. I fell in love with those stories when I was a teen, and I still remember each one of them very well. Also, love Louie L’Amur stories.

    1. It’s great to have something you’ve read as a teen that you can still remember and still love! I’m a big Louis L’Amour fan, too, Kay. That man really knew how to tell a tale, didn’t he?

  8. I enjoy short stories only takes a few hours to read.

    1. So true, Kim. And some of them make such an impact!

  9. I’ve only read one of your books, Fire Eyes. I just began reading again after years of thinking I would just never read again. I have poor concentration due to MS. Thanks to a friend sending me a book to read and review toward the end of last October until now I’ve readone 38 books. Once I find great authors those are the ones I’ll be buying and looking for in the future. Your book caught my attention in the first few pages and that’s what books have to do for me and then I devour them. Almost all of my books so far have been gifts but I’m developing a list of desired authors to look for when I do need to purchase on my own.

    1. Stephanie, that means the world to me. Most writers do it to create something to be enjoyed by others–believe me, it’s not for the money–it’s a hard job and really takes a lot to “keep plugging away” so you really have to love it.

      To hear you say that you read Fire Eyes after not reading for so long makes my day! I know what you mean about finding authors you really do like and wanting more of their work. I’m so glad that you loved Fire Eyes so much, and I wanted to let you know how much it means to me to know that you read it and enjoyed it. I’m so glad to know that!

      Thanks for stopping by today!

  10. The thing about short stories is they have to grab you fast so it’s usually a different genre for me than romance – Stephen King – any of his stories.

    1. Yes, it’s definitely tricky to write a romance short story—things can’t move ‘too fast’ but they have to wrap up in a short amount of words. So writing a romance short story means we writers have our work cut out for us. LOL I’m like you, Stephen King can really grab you, no matter what length he writes. My favorite of his was The Stand. That is one book (I know, not a short story…) of his that I will never forget–it was definitely “unputdownable” and I loved it.

  11. Cheryl — Fun post. I love getting new ideas for books to read! I think I will stay away from The Lottery, considering what was said above! I started reading the Big Red series about Irish Setters when I was eleven and that jump-started a lot of my desire to read. Then next came Jack London’s stories–I definitely had a thing for dog stories. The Island of the Blue Dolphins was a favorite too. I can’t think of any real “short” stories. I liked a regular sized story lol.

    1. Hi Kathryn! I’m like you–love all the recommendations from others and I always make a list of the books I want to add to my TBR list. I remember the Big Red series! I don’t remember if I read them or not but I remember the cover with that big beautiful dog on the front! I read island of the Blue Dolphins–I think we had to read that in school. I read all the Nancy Drew books and I remember there was a series in our library of “Twin” books–“The Irish Twins”, “The Italian Twins”, etc. I think there were probably about 20 of those, and I read every single one of them. LOL But the story I remember that just knocked my socks off–especially as a girl–was a science fiction story called When The Tripods Came. It was the first of a trilogy and one of those books that, once I started, I just couldn’t quit reading. And I was so glad to find out there were two more! Back then, sci-fi for YA readers was pretty unheard of, but I loved that book! I hunted it up when my kids were at the right age for it and ordered it and read it with them again. LOL

      I have to say, I like all lengths of stories, from the short ones to the tomes. LOL Thanks for stopping by today, Kathryn!

  12. My favorite short story for a long time was THE RANSOM OF RED CHIEF by O Henry. It was even more pertinent after we had a son. They would definitely pay us to take him back. THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME and TO BUILD A FIRE, by Jack London were favorites too. One that mad an impression was THE BAMBOO TRAP by Robert s. Lemmon is one I will never forget. It was certainly a surprise and fed one of my phobias. I have not read LOST SISTER but have read the others in the book.

    I did want to write and dabbled in it a bit in high school. Unfortunately, a family that did not support and ridiculed the effort killed that idea. I get my writing fix by writing journals when we travel and occasional letters or commentaries.

    1. Patricia, my family was not supportive either. Both parents asked me “HOW ARE YOU PLANNING TO EAT!???” when I told them I wanted to get a degree in English and be a writer. But they were supportive as long as it was a “hobby” and not something I thought I might take too seriously.

      You know…it’s never too late…

      I’ve never read The Bamboo Trap. It’s going on the ol’ TBR list! Glad you stopped by!

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