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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,
- 167 - The Aged Mother by Matsuo Basho
Life in the ancient world was often brutal and cruel. Resources were often limited leading to leaders ruthless edicts. In this old Japanese folktale, a young peasant is faced with an impossible decision.
Matsuo Basho, one of Japan’s most famous poets, was born 1644 and is known for creating the poetic style that eventually evolved into what are now known as haikus.Sat, 18 Jun 2022
- 166 - A Slice of Life by P. G. Wodehouse
This witty tale is about a veritable snake-oil salesman who uses his wares to help win the love of a beautiful young ward of an English Baronet.
British author P. G. Woodhouse was one of the mid-20th century’s most popular humorists – on both side of the Atlantic. He was also a lyricist and screenwriter. While living in France a the beginning of World War II, he was imprisoned by Germany, for whom he made some controversial broadcasts. After the war he and his wife Edith moved to the United States.Mon, 06 Jun 2022
- 165 - The Man with Two Lives by Ambrose Bierce
Here is the perfect story for those times when you need to fill a few minutes with entertainment. This tale is a surreal story of a 19th century soldier traversing a dangerous section of the the Great Plains on foot to deliver dispatches from one Old West fort to another.
Having served in the Union Army, Ambrose Bierce was one of the greatest authors of short war stories and macabre tales. We feature a number of his stories here on Litreading, including his most famous, “The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.”
In his search for new material about which to write, he crossed the border into Mexico during the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th Century and never returned.Wed, 02 Mar 2022
- 164 - The Haunted Mind by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Since the dawn of our species, we have been bewildered by about that strange period of altered consciousness that occurs just before, during, and at the end of our daily slumber.
Our next story expressively explores this activity that we all share and which still eludes understanding.
This piece was more of an observational essay than a classic short story. Its author, Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the young United States most brilliant fiction writers. Even today, his tales retain as much power as they had all most two centuries ago. His most famous novels were published at the dawn of the 1850s, “The Scarlet Letter” and “The House of the Seven Gables.”Tue, 22 Feb 2022
- 163 - That's Marriage by Edna Ferber
Marriage takes the simple concept of procreation and turns it into a lifelong commitment that can, at times, lead to unexpected anger and resentment. As Mark Twain once said, "God's great cosmic joke on the human race was requiring that men and women live together in marriage.” Anyone who has ever been married will see parallels to their own partnerships.
Despite the fact that Edna Ferber never married, she was an astute observer of people. That led her to great success as a writer. Her 1925 novel, "So Big," was a best-seller and won Ferber a Pulitzer Prize. The book was made into three movies. Her subsequent book, "Show Boat" was turned into a popular musical and her 1952 book "Giant" was the seed for the popular move of the same name starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean.Mon, 14 Feb 2022
- 162 - The Three Day Blow by Ernest Hemingway
Our second tale in this story series by a young Ernest Hemingway picks up a few months after our last story, "The End of Something," which you might want to hear before listening to this tale. A few month's after his breakup, Nick visits his friend Bill as a fall storm hits the Horton’s Bay region.
Our second tale in this story series by a young Ernest Hemingway picks up a few months after our last story, The End of Something, which you might want to hear before listening to this tale in which Nick visits his friend Bill as a fall storm hits the Horton’s Bay regionFri, 04 Feb 2022
- 161 - The End of Something by Ernest Hemingway
This story is part of a series of tales written by a young Earnest Hemingway. It’s a “slice of life” story about the conflicting emotions in a relationship between a young couple.
“The End of Something” was written when Hemingway was in his early 20s and features a recurring semi-autobiographical character, Nick Adams. The story had its roots in an early romance that began when Hemingway was in his late teens. Nick became a regular part of Hemingway’s early works and is featured in our next tale which follows chronologically, “The Three Day Blow.”Mon, 31 Jan 2022
- 160 - Desiree's Baby by Kate Chopin
Racism has always been an ugly part of the human condition. Yet, the horrors of racism in America are most undeniably illustrated by the treatment of African-Americans, particularly in the South. Here is just a small example of the pain caused by racial hatred in antebellum Louisiana.
I have presented the story exactly as written, as the author, Kate Chopin, lived during this terrible period in US history. Just five years after the end of the Civil War, Chopin married a French-American and lived with him for more than a decade in Louisiana. While Chopin’s brilliant writing is as powerful today as it was more than a century ago, it, like so many other tales of the time, focused on the suffering of white characters, ignoring the true cruelty suffered by their slaves.Mon, 24 Jan 2022
- 159 - The Romance of a Busy Broker by O. Henry
There are those for whom work becomes an obsession to the detriment of their personal lives. The businessman in our next story gives new meaning to the modern term “workaholic.”
William Henry Porter, better known as O. Henry led a short albeit intriguing life. Before he died in New York City in 1910 at age 47, Porter was a pharmacist, sheep ranch hand, draftsman, banker, and prolific author of short stories. Oh, and he was also a convicted embezzler who served time in federal prison.Tue, 18 Jan 2022
- 158 - A Country Cottage by Anton Chekhov
Life has a nasty habit of throwing us curves that we can either cause us long-term misery or force us to make the best of a bad situation as illustrated in this very short tale.
Anton Chekhov was undoubtedly brilliant. A physician by trade, his premier talent was writing. Chekhov had a unparalleled gift for understanding the depths of human emotions and sharing them first through his short stories and later, his plays. Chekhov once said “Medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress.”Fri, 14 Jan 2022
- 157 - The Rocking Horse Winner by D.H. Lawrence
Note from Don: Listening back to this story before posting it, I have to say that it moved me more than most – and I spent a few days reading, narrating, and editing it.
"The Rocking Horse Winner" entered the public domain at the beginning of 2022 and is considered one of the all-time best stories. It’s about a young boy’s dysfunctional relationship with his parents, under stress for living well beyond their means.
Like most great short stories, The Rocking Horse winner has it's roots in the author's own childhood. His well-educated mother expressed similar frustrations with Lawrence’s blue collar father.Mon, 10 Jan 2022
- 156 - The Clock That Went Backward by Edward Page Mitchell
For much of human existence we have questioned the concept of time. Is it always a constant or can it be manipulated, allowing us to move forward or backward chronologically. In this 19th century story, two cousins speculate about the age of their aunt whom they visited regularly, until they discovered the secrets of her old clock.
In 1881, several years before H.G. Wells even started writing his classic, “The Time Machine,” newspaper editor Edward Page Mitchell published his time travel story anonymously in his newspaper “The New York Sun.” Considered to be the true father of science fiction, Mitchell had penned stories about traveling father that light (1874), artificial intelligence and cryogenics (1879). Look for more stories from this lesser known sci-fi master in future episodes.Mon, 03 Jan 2022
- 155 - The State of the Podcast Address: A Plea for HelpMon, 03 Jan 2022
- 154 - Christmas Every Day by William Dean Powells
For many children, Christmas is the best day of the year. Yet, often it’s for selfish reasons. Some kids like it so much that they might wish that Christmas day might never end. One little girl father explains what it might be like if it was “Christmas Every Day” by William Dean Howells.
William Dean Howells was a proponent of literary realism. Called “The Dean of American Letters’” he was a playwright, author, critic andThe Atlantic magazine’s third editor.Wed, 22 Dec 2021
- 153 - Jimmy Scarecrow's Christmas by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
While this is primarily a story for children, Christmas is the perfect time to explore our inner child and share that spirit with today’s kids. This story originally appeared on my Readastorus podcast.
Being a scarecrow is a hard enough job in the best of times, but when winter comes, it can be miserable. Yet, for one scarecrow, a frosty Christmas brought a wonderful opportunity.
Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman started writing children’s stories as a teenager to help support her family. She went on to become one of the premier female authors of the late-19th century.Tue, 21 Dec 2021
- 152 - Reginald's Christmas Revel by Saki
This holiday tale features Reginald, a fictional young-man born to the Victorian upper crust in England, who finds himself at a stuffy family Christmas party and tries to liven things up a bit.
Saki, the pen name of British author H.H. Munroe, loved skewering the upper class, wielding the weapon of character’s like Reginald, who appeared in several of his short stories.Mon, 20 Dec 2021
- 151 - A Set of Poe by George Ade
This seasonal story features a theme that will resonate with most couple’s in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Beginning his writing career as a newspaper reporter George Ade went on the become a nationally syndicated columnist, playwright, humorist and popular author in the early 20th century. Ade is best know for his series of fables based on American slang.Mon, 13 Dec 2021
- 150 - A Case of Premeditation by R. Austin Freeman
Can an almost perfectly planned crime be solved? That question is answered in this classic mystery by one of the early 20th Century's most popular, fictional medical detectives, Dr. Thorndyke.
Sandwiched between the Sherlock Holmes mysteries of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the whodunnits of Agatha Christie are R. Austin Freeman's "whocatchums." Freeman pioneered the concept of the inverted detective story, in which the whole crime is explained before the investigation.Wed, 08 Dec 2021
- 149 - Three Thanksgiving Kisses by Edward Payson Roe
Unlike Christmas stories Thanksgiving stories are sparse. To celebrate the season, here is the tale of a proper New England celebration combined with a classic love story.
The 19th century novels and stories of Edward Payson Roe were very popular in their day. Being a Presbyterian minister, his works had a religious and moral foundation. One of his greatest criticism were the sermonly characteristics of his stories which may explain their wide acceptance during the Victorian age.Mon, 22 Nov 2021
- 148 - Araby by James Joyce
James Joyce’s “Araby” is ranked among the pantheon of greatest short stories ever written. In this timeless coming of age tale an adolescent boy, blinded by a hormonal fog, falls for a neighbor girl.
Now considered one of the classics of literature, the 1914 collection of short stories, Dubliners, of which “Araby” was an early part was an initial failure selling less than 400 copies. Of those almost a third were purchased Joyce himself.Wed, 10 Nov 2021
- 147 - The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe
While Halloween is the season for scary stories, their popularity is timeless. That is why this dark tale of revenge still send chills down listeners spines after almost two centuries.
The Cask of Amontillado was first published in the November 1946 issue “Godey’s Lady’s Book” which demonstrates the universal fascination with scary stories. Poe understood humanity’s greatest fears and exploited them masterfully, making him the all-time master of the horror genre.Tue, 26 Oct 2021
- 146 - The Furnished Room by O. Henry
Rather than your typical October horror story, This chilling tale is a unique variation on your run-of-the-mill ghost story with a wicked twist at the end from the master of narrative misdirection, O. Henry.
O. Henry, whose real name was William Sydney Porter, is considered one of the all-time masters of the short story. Known for his inventive twists, his work spanned many genres from comedy to horror. His short variegated life as draftsman, banker, and even federal convict, gave him a trove of experiences to weave into his tales.Thu, 21 Oct 2021
- 145 - Handful of Clay by Henry van Dyke
Every day we are bombarded by images of unattainable beauty, regaled with stories of fame, and envious of those who have attained great wealth. It’s easy to lose sight of our important contributions to the world and those around us. No matter how we have ended up , we all started as a figurative "handful of clay."
Henry van Dyke was a well-known clergyman, English professor, and author. He spent almost a quarter century teach English Literature at Princeton, while writing numerous short stories in his spare time. He also composed several verses of “My Country Tis of Thee,” America’s unofficial national anthem prior to the “Star Spangled Banner’s” gaining official anthem status in 1931.Tue, 07 Sep 2021
- 144 - August Heat by W. F. Harvey
Record summer temperature’s take their toll on both our physical and mental health. Extreme weather has been known to bring about strange and often dangerous behavior among those suffering its effects. How strange, I’ll let you be the judge in our special summer tale, August Heat.Wed, 18 Aug 2021
- 143 - A Haunted House by Virginia Woolf
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.Fri, 25 Jun 2021
- 142 - Old Well-Well by Zane Grey
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.Sat, 19 Jun 2021
- 141 - A Horseman in the Sky by Ambrose Bierce
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.Tue, 08 Jun 2021
- 140 - Two Hearts That Beat as One by Frank Norris
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.Thu, 03 Jun 2021
- 139 - The Bakers Dozen by Saki
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.Wed, 12 May 2021
- 138 - Indian Camp by Ernest Hemingway
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.Mon, 03 May 2021
- 137 - Gipsy by Booth Tarkington
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.Wed, 21 Apr 2021
- 136 - Mr. Know-All by W. Somerset Maugham
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.Wed, 14 Apr 2021
- 135 - The Eyes Have It by Philip K. Dick
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.Fri, 09 Apr 2021
- 134 - The Willow Walk by Sinclair Lewis
"The Willow Walk" is a dark, thriller by one of American’s greatest writers featuring some fascinating characters, shocking twists and powerful imagery. It is also one of our longest stories at over one hour.
In addition to winning a Pulitzer Prize, Sinclair Lewis was the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1930. Like many great artists he had a brief, truly brilliant period after which the quality of his work declined markedly.Thu, 08 Apr 2021
- 133 - The Aged, Aged Man by Lewis Carroll
I have always loved the work of Lewis Carroll. In fact, Litreading began with my rendition of Carroll’s nonsense poem Jabberwocky. His only foray into shorter works came in the form of poetry, much of which found its way into his Alice books.
This piece was written a bit differently earlier and changed when added to the book, “Alice’s Adventures Through the Looking Glass.”
This nonsense verse is said to be a parody of a poem by Wordsworth, Resolution and Independence.
Lewis Carroll was the pen name and alter ego of Charles Dodgeson, a well off Englishman in the mid 19th Century. Although not a particularly prolific author – he had myriad passions – Carroll remains of the most popular writers of all time.Fri, 26 Mar 2021
- 132 - The Fly by Katherine Mansfield
Grief part of the human condition and we cope with it varies from person to person. When two old men discuss the loss of family members several years after World War I, it is a fly that help illustrate both life’s constant struggles and fragility.
The Fly is considered one of Catherine Mansfield’s greatest works because it is personal. Mansfield lost her brother in a training demonstration during World War I.
One of the great modernist writers of the early 20th century, Mansfield was both a contemporary and a friend of two other great authors of that period, D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Wolff. Her works are less well known as her career was cut short by terminal tuberculosis at the age of 34.Wed, 24 Mar 2021
- 131 - A Telephonic Conversation by Mark Twain
This is more a satirical essay than an actual short story, but it makes me smile.
The first telephone was demonstrated at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. By 1880, many wealthier families were using the new communication device regularly and one of the 19th century’s best known authors and satirists observed some anecdotal differences in the way men and women communicate.
Samuel Clemens better known as Mark Twain is one of the most famous American authors of all time. This story was penned 4 years after his success with Tom Sawyer and about 5 years before he completed Huckleberry Finn. In 1884 he formed his own publishing company which went on to posthumously publish the best-selling memoirs of President Ulysses S. Grant.Wed, 17 Mar 2021
- 130 - The Other Two by Edith Wharton
We are complex creatures and grow more so with time. Every relationship adds or subtracts from who we are. No relationship is more life changing than marriage and for a woman thrice married in pre-suffrage America the stigma of mutual divorce seems insurmountable until her third husband’s comes to a startling revelation.
Best known for her novels, Edith Wharton was a prolific writer of short stories. Growing up among New York’s upper class, she created realistic portrayals of America’s Gilded Age pseudo aristocracy. In 1921, she became the the first woman to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Literature for her book, The Age of Innocence.Wed, 10 Mar 2021
- 129 - Solid Objects by Virginia Wolff
Virginia Wolff had a talent for taking mundane observations and weaving them into enchanting tales. Something a normal as watching two men on an ordinary a day at the beach became an impassioned and poignant story in her hands.
Born to an upstanding and literary Victorian family, Virginia Wolff suffered from serious psychological issues which may have been part of the genius behind her introspective and emotional powerful writing. She and her husband founded the famous British publishing house Hogarth Press in 1917.Wed, 24 Feb 2021
- 128 - In a Grove
What is truth? How does our perception color the facts as we observe them. Those differences how we see the world complicates this Japanese murder investigation in this renowned short story.
This profound modernist fable has echoed for almost a century. Also called "In a Bamboo Grove," this 1929 short story was inspiration for the critically acclaimed 1950 Japanese film, "Rashomon."Fri, 12 Feb 2021
- 127 - The Great American Pie Company by Ellis Parker Butler
People dream of success. Those ambitions can often be prodigious. Rarely, however, do our future business strategies develop as quickly as do those in this story that encapsulates the economic concerns of the early 20th Century.
For a full-time banker and part-time author Ellis Parker Butler was prolific writing more than 2,000 stories that were published in well over 200 magazines in the early 20th Century. His most famous story is "Pigs is Pigs" which a narrated in 2019.Tue, 09 Feb 2021
- 126 - The Way the World Is by Zona Gale
Falling in love is one of humanities most common events and biggest mysteries. What is it that ignites one person's passion for another. This poignant tale of surprisingly falling for someone was penned by the first woman playwright to win a Pulitzer Prize.
A brilliant author author of novels, short stories and plays, Zona Gale was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prie for Drama for the stage adaptation of her novel, Miss Lulu Bett. She sold her first story at age 16 for $3.Tue, 02 Feb 2021
- 125 - The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry - A Classic Christmas Story
How many times have you read “A Christmas Carol” or seen it performed. Every year millions of families rewatch classic Christmas movies like “It a Wonderful Life,” "A Christmas Story" or even "Christmas Vacation?"
For some reason these traditions never get old and create a sense of comfort in their ritual. There are a few short stories that occupy a similar place in our hearts. Like this special holiday reading of O. Henry’s enduring 1905 tale of unselfish love, "The Gift Of the Magi."Wed, 18 Dec 2019
- 124 - The McWilliamses And The Burglar Alarm by Mark Twain
We aren't the first generation to be frustrated by advancing technology. More than a century ago, new fangled products were making people crazy like this gentleman who supposedly related our next hilarious tale Mark Twain.
Mark Twain (the pen name of Samuel Clemens) had an unmatched knack for taking a normal story and turning it into a hilariously funny tall tale.Thu, 21 Nov 2019
- 123 - Four Men In A Cave by Stephen Crane
Mankind has always loved to explore sometimes crossing great wildernesses, but more often just poking around in our own backyards. This light-hearted tale is about a group of men who decide to investigate a local cave and literally stumble across a huge surprise.
Stephen Crane was born years after the US Civil War ended, but is best known for his stirring 1895 Civil War novel, The Red Badge of Courage. Crane was also a prolific writer of short stories, many of which ranged from actual war stories to the more personal battles of people against the wilderness or themselves.Tue, 12 Nov 2019
- 122 - The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde
There is a power that comes from giving without expectation of reward.
A self-sacrificing spirit is the theme for Irish author Oscar Wilde’s short story.
The Model Millionaire first appeared in print in the newspaper The World in June 1887. The story’s author, Oscar Wilde, was one of the 19th century’s most famous authors and playrights penning works like The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest.
Late in his life, Wilde served almost two years at hard labor after being convicting of violating England’s draconian laws against homosexual behavior. He died just over three years after his release at age 46.Tue, 05 Nov 2019
- 121 - Diary Of A Madman by Guy de Maupassant
For our final Halloween story of the season, we explore the darkest parts of the human mind - the hidden recesses where derangement resides.
A word of caution: this tale is very dark and is not suitable for younger children.Tue, 29 Oct 2019
- 120 - The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
Halloween is the season of the macabre and one the greatest authors of dark frightening fiction was Edgar Allen Poe. This season I decided to share the Poe story that frightened me most when I was young.
Considered to be the finest American Gothic writer of all time, Edgar Allen Poe loved to pen short stories. Of course, his best known tales are his darkest. This makes sense as Poe himself stated that he often suffered from bouts of depression and madness.Thu, 24 Oct 2019
- 119 - A Wireless Message by Ambrose Bierce
As Halloween approaches we begin a time for scarier stories. For this short tale with a chilling twist we turn to prolific 19th century stories Ambrose Bierce for "A Wireless Message."
Ambrose Bierce is considered one of the 19th Century finest authors of shockingly realistic short stories. His most famous tale “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is one of our favorites and can be heard at Litreading.Wed, 16 Oct 2019
- 118 - The Last Leaf by O. HenryWed, 02 Oct 2019
- 117 - The Idyl of Red Gulch by Bret HarteThu, 12 Sep 2019
- 116 - Good Souls by Dorothy ParkerThu, 11 Jul 2019
- 115 - Hands by Sherwood AndersonTue, 18 Jun 2019
- 114 - Father Forgets by W. Livingston LarnedFri, 14 Jun 2019
- 113 - The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark TwainTue, 04 Jun 2019
- 112 - An Alpine Divorce by Robert BarrTue, 28 May 2019
- 111 - Clovis on Parental Responsibility by SakiWed, 22 May 2019
- 110 - Empire of the Ants by H.G. Wells
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.Tue, 14 May 2019
- 109 - The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth GrahameSat, 06 Apr 2019
- 108 - Pigs is Pigs by Ellis Parker ButlerMon, 01 Apr 2019
- 107 - An Angel in Disguise by T.S. ArthurTue, 26 Mar 2019
- 106 - Dusk by SakiThu, 14 Mar 2019
- 105 - The Looking Glass by Anton ChekovWed, 06 Mar 2019
- 104 - The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut by Mark TwainFri, 01 Mar 2019
- 103 - The Fable of the Preacher Who Flew His Kite, But Not Because He Wished to Do So by George AdeThu, 21 Feb 2019
- 102 - Love in the Night by F. Scott FitzgeraldWed, 13 Feb 2019
- 101 - The Whirligig of Life by O. HenryFri, 08 Feb 2019
- 100 - Second Best by D.H. LawrenceThu, 31 Jan 2019
- 99 - The Story of an Hour by Kate ChopinFri, 25 Jan 2019
- 98 - After Twenty Years by O. HenryThu, 17 Jan 2019
- 97 - The Prophet - Part Two by Khalil GibranFri, 04 Jan 2019
- 96 - The Prophet - Part One by Khalil GibranThu, 03 Jan 2019
- 95 - Uncle Richard's New Year Dinner by Lucy Maud MontgomeryWed, 26 Dec 2018
- 94 - A Visit from St. Nicholas or 'Twas the Night Before Christmas - A Classic Christmas VerseSat, 22 Dec 2018
- 93 - A Kidnapped Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum - A Classic Christmas StoryThu, 20 Dec 2018
- 92 - Christmas at Red Butte by Lucy Maud Montgomery - A Classic Christmas StoryMon, 17 Dec 2018
- 91 - The Gospel According to Joan by Mary E. Wilkins FreemanTue, 11 Dec 2018
- 90 - Misery by Anton ChekhovTue, 04 Dec 2018
- 89 - A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin
Money has the power to take us away, if only temporarily, from the due routines of life. However, there is always a price to pay for our fiscal flights of fancy and real life eventually hoists its humdrum head again.Tue, 27 Nov 2018
- 88 - The Good and the Bad Little Boy by Mark Twain
In the 19th Century particularly, good boys are supposed to enjoy the fruits of the righteousness, and bad boys were destined for eternal damnation, at least according to Sunday School books, but according to Mark Twain, life often contradicted expectation.Wed, 21 Nov 2018
- 87 - Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen by O. HenryMon, 19 Nov 2018
- 86 - The Cactus by O. HenryTue, 13 Nov 2018
- 85 - The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs
Humans are rarely content with their lot in life. We long for something more and, all too often believe that, given the right opportunity, our lives can be made better in an instant through some fortunate event, like winning a lottery.Wed, 31 Oct 2018
- 84 - The Damned Thing by Ambrose BierceMon, 29 Oct 2018
- 83 - The Man in the Brown Coat by Sherwood AndersonSat, 27 Oct 2018
- 82 - The Black Cat by Edgar Allen PoeWed, 24 Oct 2018
- 81 - Yuki-Onna by Lafcadio Hearn
Ghost stories have been told around the world and often based on mythical creatures or spirits. Those living in the cold, snowy regions of Japan created the legend of a winter spirit called Yuki-Onna (or snow woman) whose beauty allows her to prey on those lost in brutal winter storms.Sat, 20 Oct 2018
- 80 - The Boarded Window by Ambrose Bierce
What led a man to live an isolated life at his ramshackle cabin, with a boarded up window, in the former American wilderness? What is the tragic story that led him to this doleful existence? Here is his traumatic tale.Wed, 17 Oct 2018
- 79 - Three Questions by Leo TolstoyFri, 12 Oct 2018
- 78 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Would it be better to start life as an old man and end it as an infant? That was the question posed by Mark Twain that inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald to write his short story, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."Thu, 11 Oct 2018
- 77 - An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
Prepare to be moved by one of the most unusual short stories ever written, which tells a chilling tale of the simple life and complex death of a slave-owning planter in Union-occupied Alabama during the Civil War.Wed, 03 Oct 2018
- 76 - The Million Pound Bank Note
This classic Mark Twain tale is a witty commentary on poverty and wealth. There is much of Twain’s personal circumstance reflected in the story, as Twain had himself recently gone from riches to bankruptcy.Wed, 03 Oct 2018
- 75 - JabberwockyWed, 03 Oct 2018
- 73 - The Interlopers by Saki
A long-running feud leads two men to face each other and the ravages of nature in this powerful classic story by one the best short story authors of all time.
One of listeners most requested authors is Saki, the pen name of British write H.H. Munro.
His incredible short stories run the gamut from biting satire to shockingly macabre.
At age 43, Munro insisted on enlisting as a mere trooper to fight for the British in World War One and was killed by a German sniper in 1916.Wed, 20 Jan 2021
- 72 - Memoirs of a Yellow Dog by O. Henry
I am a big fan of dogs and am fascinated with their non-verbal communication skills. I also enjoy dog stories and the writing of O. Henry, so what could be better to end season two of Litreading than a dog story written by O. Henry.
Each season of Litreading stretches from fall until mid-summer, giving me time for a family hiatus. In this one, I’m going to be moving to a new home in western Virginia, where I am also building a new studio. I have some big plans for season three of Litreading, do come back often and consider signing up for my Litletter at Litreading.com.
Thanks so much for listening and don’t miss season three premiering in late September.Wed, 05 Aug 2020
- 71 - My Financial Career by Stephen LeacockTue, 07 Jul 2020
- 70 - Jimmy Rose by Herman MelvilleSun, 28 Jun 2020
- 69 - The Enchanted Bluff by Willa Cather
Here is a wonderfully nostalgic tale of a time when boys could enjoy a taste of freedom, share ideas, and let’s their imaginations run wild, before the responsibilities of life overrode such fancies. You're invited to get lost at the foot of "The Enchanted Bluff."
Willa Cather published "The Enchanted Bluff" in "Harper's Magazine" in 1909 during a period when her writing skills were blossoming in stories about her experiences living on the Nebraska prairie. Her efforts culminated in a Pulitzer Prize for her book, "One of Ours." Her work was loved by some of the best authors of her day. In fact, after he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Sinclair Lewis stated that the prize should have gone to Willa Cather.Sun, 14 Jun 2020
- 68 - The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
In this episode, we go on an adventure off the coast of South America, as a famous big game hunter finds himself stranded on an island where hunting has been elevated to a new and frightening level. It’s time to play “The Most Dangerous Game.”
"The Most Dangerous Game" has been called "the most popular story ever written in English" and was made into a 1932 movie. It’s author, Richard Connell was one of the most famous American short story writers in the early 20th Century. He was also a screenwriter who won an Academy Award in 1942 for his original screenplay “Meet John Doe.”Sun, 07 Jun 2020
- 67 - Nevada Funeral - Scotty Briggs and the Clergyman by Mark Twain
In the 19th century, the United States was as diverse from region to region as were the country’s of Europe, except for the fact that we spoke some semblance of the same language. However, the language divide between proper Easern American English and that of the the inhabitants of the West could, at times be vast.
Samuel Clemens was born in Florida in 1835, but it wasn’t until 27 years later that his alter ego, Mark Twain, came into being in Carson City, Nevada. He credited the many extreme characters of Nevada’s early mining days with jump starting his literary career.Mon, 25 May 2020
- 66 - A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell
In the early 19th century country a farmer is murdered in his home. While investigated, local authorities task a local women with gathering a few things for the wife who was arrested for the crime.
Susan Glaspell wrote a one-act play which she adapted into "A Jury of Her Peers” It is loosely based on a murder covered while working as a reporter for the Des Moines Daily News.Sat, 16 May 2020
- 65 - Gentle Hand by Mary Roberts Rinehart
During these stressful times, forced into close quarters with those we love. we may find ourselves growing angry when a softer approach tends to me far more effective as is illustrated in this story.
Mary Roberts Rinehart is yet another fine example of a talented early 20th Century authors. Known as The American Agatha Christie, she is best known for her mystery stories. A character in her 1920 play “The Bat” was the inspiration for Bob Kane’s comic book character “Batman.”Wed, 13 May 2020
- 64 - Nobodys Story by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens was a constant observer of the plight of his fellows and critical of the divisions between humanity’s strata. In this deep and poignant parable of mankind’s need to be recognized by others he arrives at the conclusion that in the end, despite our apparent differences, we are all same.
Dickens wrote "Nobody’s Story" to honor those who toil in anonymity and suffer quietly. It was originally published in 1853 as part of a Volume of Christmas stories, but felt more appropriate for today.Tue, 05 May 2020
- 63 - The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Women’s health issues have long been explained away as emotional issues due to their role as the “weaker sex.” Serious illnesses were diagnosed as nothing more than hysteria and rest was prescribed. This ignorance of women’s real health problems is brilliantly portrayed in this haunting tale of a woman driven to the brink.
The author, Charlotte Perkins Gilman actually suffered a horrible case of post partum depression for which she was treated in a similar condescending manner.Thu, 23 Apr 2020
- 62 - Hermann the Irascible by Saki
How times have changed. Just over a century ago, women were still fighting for the right to vote and the prevailing belief among men was that they were too emotional and fragile to do so. Our next story takes place, ironically, in a fictional Britain in the wake of a great plague. Join me as we travel back to a very different world in Hermann the Irascible by Saki
Saki was the nome de plume of British author, H.H. Munro who was a prolific short story writer around the turn of the twentieth century. His wit, insight and style are unmistakable and incredibly enjoyable, even if the subject is a bit dated.Thu, 16 Apr 2020
- 61 - Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
When the plans for a top-secret British defense project are stolen and the apparent thief is found dead, the government turns to legendary detective Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery and find the documents.Sat, 04 Apr 2020
- 60 - The Widow's Cruise by Frank Stockton
We have been sharing stories with each other since the beginning of time. On occasion these tales have been known to grow a bit tall, as was the case when four elderly seamen spent an evening with a widow sharing a variety of yarns each one wilder than the next. Then the wood adds a tale of her own.
Frank Stockton was a 19th century author and humorist with an uncanny knack for poking fun a human failings. One of his most famous stories was "The Lady or the Tiger."Fri, 27 Mar 2020
- 59 - The Boston Massacre by Nathanial Hawthorne
What began as a street brawl on a winter evening in Boston, became one the biggest sparks to help ignite the American revolution. 250 years ago, on March 5th 1770, anger over the British housing troops among civilians in Massachusetts boiled over into what the British called the Incident on King Street but was referred to my early Americans as "The Boston Massacre."
To commemorate the 250th anniversary of the siminal event in early American history, we present Nathanial Hawthorne's unique narrative account of this fascinating tale.Wed, 04 Mar 2020
- 58 - Poor, Dear Margaret Kirby by Kathleen Norris
Happiness has always been elusive, usually found in unexpected places and, often, in the wake of the worst life events
In this heart-warming story, an affluent couple discovers what is truly important in life in the wake of both a fiscal and physical tragedy.
Kathleen Norris was, for a time, the highest paid female writer in early 20th-century America. She was half of a famous writing couple with her husband Frank Norris.Thu, 27 Feb 2020
- 57 - The Log by Guy de Maupassant
The lure of an illicit affair is not a new facet of human nature. People have been both tempting and tempted throughout time. But for a sudden twist of fate, our next story might have ended badly for everyone involved.
Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant was a 19th-century French author considered one the era greatest short storyist spinning realistic tales of the human conditionMon, 03 Feb 2020
- 56 - The Mark on the Wall by Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf demonstrates how simply focusing on one thing has the power to unleash torrents of thoughts and memories.
Born Adeline Virginia Stephen in 1882, British author Virginia Woolf went on to become an icon of modern 20th century literature.Fri, 17 Jan 2020
- 55 - Tobermory by Saki
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.Fri, 03 Jan 2020
- 54 - A Stolen Christmas by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman - A Classic Christmas Story
Sometimes we fall so far that we are tempted to cross lines we never would have in better times. Feelings of inadequacy can become particularly acute during the holiday season, when we see so much apparent happiness. Our next story about one woman’s fall from grace and her Christmas redemption.
Brilliant short story author, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman ’s "A Stolen Christmas" was published in Harper's Bazaar on December 24, 1887Tue, 24 Dec 2019
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