1. "Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?" by Joyce Carol Oates
What it's about: Oates gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "stranger danger" when Connie meets Arnold Friend while she's home alone.
Why you should read it: Even if you already know what happens, or can predict the end, it will still leave you creeped out, every time.
—Suggested by andreas4d285ede9
2. "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner
What it's about: When the reclusive Emily Grierson passes away, the curiosity of the townspeople gets the best of them.
Why you should read it: The abrupt and twisted ending allows for multiple interpretations and demands to be read again and again.
—Suggested by brittanyw4809c69ae
3. "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" by Alice Munro
What it's about: As Fiona develops Alzheimer's disease, she forgets her unfaithful husband and begins a new relationship in the nursing home she lives in.
Why you should read it: Munro unflinchingly confronts the tragedies of marriage and terminal illness with compassion. Just have tissues on hand.
—Suggested by morganfunkc
4. "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker
What it's about: Dee, who now prefers to be called Wangero, visits her mother and sister Maggie and wants to take family heirlooms as decorations for her apartment.
Why you should read it: Walker's story is one of the best explorations of the tension inherent in one's heritage.
—Suggested by Anonymous
5. "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce
What it's about: A Confederate sympathizer reflects on his life as the ends nears.
Why you should read it: The twist at the end will give you chills, guaranteed.
—Suggested by VanGogurt
6. "People Like That Are The Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk" by Lorrie Moore
What it's about: A mother and father face difficult circumstances and choices when their baby is diagnosed with a Wilm's tumor.
Why you should read it: Lorrie Moore is often considered one of America's foremost short story writers; this story is one of the reasons why.
—Suggested by Hayley H., Facebook
7. "The Sound of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury
What it's about: It is 2055, and time travel is possible, but would-be time travelers must follow strict instructions to minimize their impact on the past.
Why you should read it: Through the frame of time travel, Bradbury makes us consider scientific ethics.
—Suggested by Letsblowstuffup
8. "Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor
What it's about: A "good country" salesman attempts to sell Bibles to a Southern family. There are unexpected consequences.
Why you should read it: With a cast of interesting characters, O'Connor's short story is a darkly funny study of knowledge and evil
—Suggested by Nancy D., Facebook
9. "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
What it's about: The socially awkward Bernice visits her cousin Marjorie, who teaches her how to flirt. When Bernice begins to get more attention, Marjorie plots to sabotage her cousin.
Why you should read it: Fitzgerald's story is the perfect mix of funny, heartwarming, and malicious.
—Suggested by chloeh46aea3e0e
10. "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
What it's about: For her "health," a woman is kept in isolation in a room with yellow wallpaper, which she quickly becomes obsessed with.
Why you should read it: Though horrifying and dark, Gilman wrote what is often considered the first feminist short story.
—Suggested by Donna D., Facebook
11. "Lamb to the Slaughter" by Roald Dahl
What it's about: A pregnant housewife kills her philandering husband with a large leg of lamb and masterfully destroys the evidence.
Why you should read it: Dahl's genius wasn't limited to just insightful books for children; his short stories are disturbing, but brilliant and darkly funny.
—Suggested by Emma C., Facebook
12. "The Swimmer" by John Cheever
What it's about: While at a friend's house, Neddy decides to leave for home by swimming in every pool in the county. Things do not go as planned.
Why you should read it: The twist ending is shocking and heartbreaking, but it ultimately points to the emptiness of the American Dream.
—Suggested by Daisy J., Facebook
13. "Names/Nombres" by Julia Alvarez
What it's about: Julia Alvarez explores the immigrant experience through the divide between names in the home and school.
Why you should read it: Alvarez reminds readers of the power of names and beautifully reveals what it's like to live in and between two cultures.
—Suggested by elkidmarie
14. "On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning" by Haruki Murakami
What it's about: Boy sees girl. Boy wants to talk with girl. Boy walks past girl.
Why you should read it: While simple and light in tone, it will leave you thinking about the narrator's story for a long time to come.
—Suggested by Jarry Lee
15. "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin
What it's about: The city of Omelas is seemingly perfect, but the utopia-like state is based on a devastating secret.
Why you should read it: Completely existential, Le Guin will leave you with more questions than answers.
—Suggested by Chelsea L., Facebook
16. "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" by J. D. Salinger
What it's about: A WWII veteran recently discharged from the hospital goes to the beach while his wife talks on the phone with her mother and dismisses concerns for his health.
Why you should read it: An illuminating portrait of the impacts of war, Salinger's story is haunting and poignant.
17. "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid
What it's about: A mother instructs her daughter on how to be a lady and not a "slut."
Why you should read it: All the most devastating for its brevity, Kincaid illustrates the constricting expectations society places on young women.
—Suggested by Sarah Galo
18. "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson
What it's about: A small American town prepares for a ritual to welcome a successful harvest season.
Why you should read it: Seemingly timeless, Jackson's metaphoric and allusion-laden story reminds us of the moral compromises that are sometimes accepted for peace.
—Suggested by emmaf4b2b01b18
19. "Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe
What it's about: As a plague called the Red Death ravages his country, Prince Prospero entertains his guests with a masquerade. It does not end well.
Why you should read it: While Poe's endings are never entirely surprising, he manages to always horrify.
—Suggested by Becca S., Facebook
20. "The Witness for the Prosecution" by Agatha Christie
What it's about: A man is arrested for murder of an older woman, who declared him her heir. The man's wife comes forward as a witness against him.
Why you should read it: Thrilling and surprising, Christie elevates the court procedural in a way only she can.
—Suggested by rahulj2
21. "Cannibalism in Cars" by Mark Twain
What it's about: A group of politicians are trapped in a snow bound train. Things get desperate.
Why you should read itL No one does satire better than Twain. No one.
—Suggested by Marianne M., Facebook
22. "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin
What it's about: Louise receives news of her husband's death in a railroad accident. She has an unexpected reaction.
Why you should read it: Memorable for its ending, Chopin illuminates the confining nature of marriage in the late 1800s.
—Suggested by MJ C., Facebook
23. "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut
What it's about: In the future, the United States has mandated equality of intelligence and talent, and citizens with above average intelligence or talent must be "handicapped."
Why you should read it: Devastatingly understated, Vonnegut illustrates the emptiness of a society where sameness is the order of the day.
—Suggested by Cocopuff267