2020 favorites

2020 Favorites

Seven years in and going strong on the SSMT website.

It was a difficult 2020 all around. And as life got infinitely more stressful, the notion of having time to sit back and read a short story seemed comical.

But, I would argue, taking time to read a short story (at least every so often) becomes even more important during times of adversity. Art can lift us out of our own anxiety, away from our own grief, and give us someone else’s perspective. Getting out of your own head, even only temporarily, was essential self-care in 2020.

So in keeping with SSMT tradition, here is the annual list ranking the stories highlighted this year on the site, sorted in order of my own enjoyment.

And look for a new spin on things in 2021 here. Every week, we’ll be highlighting stories from a different country. After leaning overwhelmingly American for seven years, it seemed like it was well past time to expand my reading horizons. Can’t hurt to change things up for 2021.

So look forward to that, and have a happy new year!

  1. ‘Wenlock Edge’ by Alice Munro
  2. ‘The Green Banana’ by J.F. Powers
  3. ‘Love Letter’ by George Saunders
  4. ‘A Jonquil For Mary Penn’ by Wendell Berry
  5. ‘Family Furnishings’ by Alice Munro
  6. ‘A Bird In The House’ by Margaret Laurence
  7. ‘Emergency’ by Denis Johnson
  8. ‘The Most Girl Part Of You’ by Amy Hempel
  9. ‘The Proxy Marriage’ by Maile Meloy
  10. ‘A Temporary Matter’ by Jhumpa Lahiri
  11. ‘Corrie’ by Alice Munro
  12. ‘Heaven’ by Mary Gaitskill
  13. ‘The Lie’ by Maeve Brennan
  14. ‘Like It Or Not’ by Deborah Eisenberg
  15. ‘The Minister’s Black Veil’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  16. ‘Mirrorball’ by Mary Gaitskill
  17. ‘Accident Brief’ by Karen Russell
  18. ‘Across The Lake’ by Deborah Eisenberg
  19. ‘Notes From A Lady At A Dinner Party’ by Bernard Malamud
  20. ‘Witness For The Prosecution’ by Agatha Christie
  21. ‘An Error In Chemistry’ by William Faulkner
  22. ‘The Adventure Of The Norwood Builder’ by Arthur Conan Doyle
  23. ‘The Little Men’ by Megan Abbott
  24. ‘The Mask Of The Bear’ by Margaret Laurence
  25. ‘To Set Our House In Order’ by Margaret Laurence
  26. ‘The Unknown Masterpiece’ by Honoré de Balzac
  27. ‘Wakefield’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  28. ‘The Rug’ by Edna O’Brien
  29. ‘Mrs. Reinhardt’ by Edna O’Brien
  30. ‘The Dead’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  31. ‘The Lady With The Pet Dog’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  32. ‘Gravel’ by Alice Munro
  33. ‘A Half-Pint Of Old Darling’ by Wendell Berry
  34. ‘Number Ten’ by Edna O’Brien
  35. ‘Debt Of Honor’ by V.S. Pritchett
  36. ‘The Adventure Of The Dancing Men’ by Arthur Conan Doyle
  37. ‘The First Seven Years’ by Bernard Malamud
  38. ‘Mademoiselle Pearl’ by Guy de Maupassant
  39. ‘A Priest In The Family’ by Colm Tóibín
  40. ‘Godliness’ by Sherwood Anderson
  41. ‘Mother’ by Sherwood Anderson
  42. ‘Work’ by Denis Johnson
  43. ‘A Woman On The Roof’ by Doris Lessing
  44. ‘All The Way In Flagstaff, Arizona’ by Richard Bausch
  45. ‘Greenleaf’ by Flannery O’Connor
  46. ‘Lunch At The Loyola Arms’ by Stuart Dybek
  47. ‘The Metal Bowl’ by Miranda July
  48. ‘The Death Of A Government Clerk’ by Anton Chekhov
  49. ‘Hands’ by Sherwood Anderson
  50. ‘Paper Pills’ by Sherwood Anderson
  51. ‘The Beach Boy’ by Ottessa Moshfegh
  52. ‘The Loons’ by Margaret Laurence
  53. ‘Drinking Coffee Elsewhere’ by ZZ Packer
  54. ‘The Half-Husky’ by Margaret Laurence
  55. ‘The Sphinx’ by Edgar Allan Poe
  56. ‘Snow’ by Ann Beattie
  57. ‘A Dead Woman’s Secrets’ by Guy de Maupassant
  58. ‘The Woman Who Came At Six O’Clock’ by Gabriel García Márquez
  59. ‘First Love, Last Rites’ by Ian McEwan
  60. ‘Mrs. Fortescue’ by Doris Lessing
  61. ‘The Connor Girls’ by Edna O’Brien
  62. ‘Home For Christmas’ by Carson McCullers
  63. ‘Dismemberment’ by Wendell Berry
  64. ‘Her Letters’ by Kate Chopin
  65. ‘The Birth-Mark’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  66. ‘Two Men’ by Denis Johnson
  67. ‘Nobody Knows’ by Sherwood Anderson
  68. ‘The Sound Of The Singing’ by Margaret Laurence
  69. ‘Comfort’ by Mary Gaitskill
  70. ‘To Room Nineteen’ by Doris Lessing
  71. ‘The Wheelbarrow’ by V.S. Pritchett
  72. ‘England Versus England’ by Doris Lessing
  73. ‘Hunted Down’ by Charles Dickens
  74. ‘The Clever One’ by Maeve Brennan
  75. ‘The Profile’ by Willa Cather
  76. ‘The Mourners’ by Bernard Malamud
  77. ‘Going To Meet The Man’ by James Baldwin
  78. ‘Cattle Haul’ by Jesmyn Ward
  79. ‘Robert E. Lee Is Dead’ by Danielle Evans
  80. ‘Brownies’ by ZZ Packer
  81. ‘Horses In The Night’ by Margaret Laurence
  82. ‘On The Divide’ by Willa Cather
  83. ‘The Garden Lodge’ by Willa Cather
  84. ‘My Son The Murderer’ by Bernard Malamud
  85. ‘Angel Levine’ by Bernard Malamud
  86. ‘Visitor’ by Bryan Washington
  87. ‘The Pram’ by Roddy Doyle
  88. ‘A Room Forever’ by Breece D’J Pancake
  89. ‘Stone Mattress’ by Margaret Atwood
  90. ‘The Weirdos’ by Ottessa Moshfegh
  91. ‘The Turn Of The Screw’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  92. ‘The Old Man Of The Sea’ by Maeve Brennan
  93. ‘Mark Of Satan’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  94. ‘At The Seminary’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  95. ‘Twin Beds In Rome’ by John Updike
  96. ‘Turgor’ by Mary Gaitskill
  97. ‘The Tree Of Knowledge’ by Henry James
  98. ‘The Pelican’ by Edith Wharton
  99. ‘The Interlopers’ by Saki
  100. ‘Flesh And The Mirror’ by Angela Carter
  101. ‘The Flaw In The Design’ by Deborah Eisenberg
  102. ‘Fatality’ by Richard Bausch
  103. ‘A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings’ by Gabriel García Márquez
  104. ‘Seven’ by Edwidge Danticat
  105. ‘A Winter Courtship’ by Sarah Orne Jewett
  106. ‘My Friend Bingham’ by Henry James
  107. ‘Some Get Back’ by Robert J. Williams
  108. ‘The Creature’ by Edna O’Brien
  109. ‘Funny Little Snake’ by Tessa Hadley
  110. ‘The Rise Of Capitalism’ by Donald Barthelme
  111. ‘You Can’t Be Any Poorer Than Dead’ by Flannery O’Connor
  112. ‘The Children’ by Andrea Lee
  113. ‘One Of These Days’ by Gabriel García Márquez
  114. ‘The Girl On The Plane’ by Mary Gaitskill
  115. ‘Eyes Of A Blue Dog’ by Gabriel García Márquez
  116. ‘The Invalid, Or The Bedridden’ by Patricia Highsmith
  117. ‘Connection’ by Mary Gaitskill
  118. ‘The Philosopher’ by Sherwood Anderson
  119. ‘A Man Of Ideas’ by Sherwood Anderson
  120. ‘Dirty Deceivers’ by Chester Himes
  121. ‘Making It Home’ by Wendell Berry
  122. ‘The Sock’ by Lydia Davis
  123. ‘A Golden Slipper’ by Willa Cather
  124. ‘The Marvellous Girl’ by V.S. Pritchett
  125. ‘Second Best’ by D.H. Lawrence
  126. ‘The Stick Up’ by John Oliver Killens
  127. ‘Psychopolis’ by Ian McEwan
  128. ‘Father Abe’ by James McBride
  129. ‘East Side: North Africa’ by Jane Bowles
  130. ‘Trying To Be’ by Mary Gaitskill
  131. ‘The Fishing-Boat Picture’ by Alan Sillitoe
  132. ‘Mother’ by Grace Paley
  133. ‘Fly Away, Breath’ by Wendell Berry
  134. ‘Goodbye, Pops’ by Joe Gores
  135. ‘Nanette: An Aside’ by Willa Cather
  136. ‘The Lightning-Rod Man’ by Herman Melville
  137. ‘Wild Frank’s Return’ by Walt Whitman
  138. ‘Beverly Home’ by Denis Johnson
  139. ‘The Female Novelist’ by Patricia Highsmith
  140. ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  141. ‘The Devil In Us’ by Maeve Brennan
  142. ‘The Barrel Of Rumors’ by Maeve Brennan
  143. ‘Fern’ by Jean Toomer
  144. ‘The Coquette’ by Patricia Highsmith
  145. ‘Irina’ by Mavis Gallant
  146. ‘The Lily-White Boys’ by William Maxwell
  147. ‘An Affair, Edited’ by Mary Gaitskill
  148. ‘The Under Graham Railroad Box Car Set’ by James McBride
  149. ‘The Stone’ by Louise Erdrich
  150. ‘The Sunday Following Mother’s Day’ by Edward P. Jones
  151. ‘In The Hours Of Darkness’ by Edna O’Brien
  152. ‘A Talking Cure’ by Justin Taylor
  153. ‘My Sister’s Marriage’ by Cynthia Marshall Rich
  154. ‘The Absence Of Emily’ by Jack Ritchie
  155. ‘The Adventure Of The German Student’ by Washington Irving
  156. ‘Paranoia’ by Shirley Jackson
  157. ‘Twilight Of The Superheroes’ by Deborah Eisenberg
  158. ‘The Fall’ by V.S. Pritchett
  159. ‘The Two Davises And The Rug’ by Lydia Davis
  160. ‘Aren’t You Happy For Me?’ by Richard Bausch
  161. ‘I Live On Your Visits’ by Dorothy Parker
  162. ‘Reading Lessons’ by Edwidge Danticat
  163. ‘Northeast Regional’ by Emma Cline
  164. ‘How I Finally Lost My Heart’ by Doris Lessing
  165. ‘The Fly In The Ointment’ by V.S. Pritchett
  166. ‘On Saturday Afternoon’ by Alan Sillitoe
  167. ‘The Case Of The Missing Will’ by Agatha Christie
  168. ‘Simmering’ by Margaret Atwood
  169. ‘Out On Bail’ by Denis Johnson
  170. ‘The Other Man’ by Denis Johnson
  171. ‘My Flamboyant Grandson’ by George Saunders
  172. ‘Dragged Fighting From His Tomb’ by Barry Hannah
  173. ‘The Egg Race’ by John Updike
  174. ‘The Namesake’ by Willa Cather
  175. ‘Cortés And Montezuma’ by Donald Barthelme
  176. ‘The Haunted Mind’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  177. ‘Life After High School’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  178. ‘The Last Voyage Of The Ghost Ship’ by Gabriel García Márquez
  179. ‘The Chocolate Box’ by Agatha Christie
  180. ‘The Fascinating Problem Of Uncle Meleager’s Will’ by Dorothy Sayers
  181. ‘The Parker Shotgun’ by Sue Grafton
  182. ‘The Adventure Of The Cheap Flat’ by Agatha Christie
  183. ‘Wedlock’ by Richard Bausch
  184. ‘Show Don’t Tell’ by Curtis Sittenfeld
  185. ‘Nobody In Hollywood’ by Richard Bausch
  186. ‘The Hand’ by Patricia Highsmith
  187. ‘The Fully Licensed Whore, Or, The Wife’ by Patricia Highsmith
  188. ‘The Mirror’ by Haruki Murakami
  189. ‘Asleep In Armageddon’ by Ray Bradbury
  190. ‘The Pocketbook Game’ by Alice Childress
  191. ‘The Dancer’ by Patricia Highsmith
  192. ‘Miss Marple Tells A Story’ by Agatha Christie
  193. ‘The Veiled Lady’ by Agatha Christie
  194. ‘Billy’s Girl’ by Gordon Jackson
  195. ‘Quiet Please’ by Aimee Bender
  196. ‘Nairobi’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  197. ‘The Hit Man’ by T. Coraghessan Boyle
  198. ‘Heart Attack’ by Max Apple
  199. ‘Cooking Lesson’ by Rosario Castellanos
  200. ‘Coming Soon’ by Steven Millhauser
  201. ‘Exteriors’ by Kathleen Collins
  202. ‘Prue’ by Alice Munro
  203. ‘Company For Gertrude’ by P.G. Wodehouse
  204. ‘Steady Hands In Seattle General’ by Denis Johnson
  205. ‘The Yo-Yo’ by P.D. James
  206. ‘The Middle-Class Housewife’ by Patricia Highsmith
  207. ‘The Breeder’ by Patricia Highsmith
  208. ‘Temptation’ by Clarice Lispector
  209. ‘Ordinary Nudes’ by Stuart Dybek
  210. ‘Neighbors’ by Anthony Tognazzini
  211. ‘The Canebrake’ by Mohammed Mrabet
  212. ‘John Inglefield’s Thanksgiving’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  213. ‘The Boy Who Painted Christ Black’ by John Henrik Clarke
  214. ‘The Striding Place’ by Gertrude Atherton
  215. ‘Is He Living Or Is He Dead?’ by Mark Twain
  216. ‘The Maypole Of Merry-Mount’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  217. ‘Legend Of The Two Discreet Statues’ by Washington Irving
  218. ‘The Third Tower’ by Deborah Eisenberg
  219. ‘Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest’ by Sherman Alexie
  220. ‘La Sainte-Vierge’ by Daphne du Maurier
  221. ‘The Genuine Tabard’ by E.C. Bentley
  222. ‘The Queer Feet’ by G.K. Chesterton
  223. ‘Television’ by Lydia Davis
  224. ‘Blue Girl’ by Elizabeth Crane
  225. ‘The Flowering Of The Strange Orchid’ by H.G. Wells
  226. ‘The Bold Dragoon, Or The Adventure Of My Grandfather’ by Washington Irving
  227. ‘Mouses’ by Thom Jones
  228. ‘Housewife’ by Amy Hempel
  229. ‘Where I Lived, And What I Lived For’ by Joyce Carol Oates
  230. ‘The Annex’ by Amy Hempel
  231. ‘Odd Behavior’ by Lydia Davis
  232. ‘The Warmth Of Things’ by Nélida Piñón
  233. ‘Times’ by Ann Beattie
  234. ‘The Afterlife’ by Jonathan Lethem
  235. ‘Cranberry Relish’ by Katherine Heiny
  236. ‘The Richer, The Poorer’ by Dorothy West
  237. ‘The Doctor And The Rabbi’ by Aimee Bender
  238. ‘The Hanging Of The Schoolmarm’ by Robert Coover
  239. ‘My Brother At The Canadian Border’ by Sholeh Wolpé
  240. ‘The Coin Of Dionysius’ by Ernest Bramah

As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

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