5 Apps to Read or Listen to the Best Free Short Stories Online

A lot of people want to cultivate the habit of reading regularly. Start small with the best free short stories on these websites and apps, and work your way upwards.

Short stories are a gateway drug to the world of literature. In fact, most respected authors have a collection of short stories that are, at times, more entertaining than their larger works. Even for amateur writers, novels might be too daunting but short stories are more doable.

So the internet now has a storehouse of great short stories, from famous and unknown writers, that these apps have curated for your reading pleasure.

5 Apps to Read or Listen to the Best Free Short Stories

1. Storypony (Web): Community of Varied Short Stories

Storypony is a community for short story writers and readers. Each story has a maximum of 10,000 words, with most being around five to fifteen minute reads. The editors are particular about only accepting finished works and not chapter-by-chapter stories, so as a reader, you know you aren’t going to be left on a cliffhanger.

As you might expect, Storypony categorizes the short stories in genres like crime, drama, humor, fantasy, adventure, mystery, and so on. You can browse the most-voted, most-viewed, or most-recent submissions in any category, or go through the trending stories in all submissions.

Each story has its own comments page to discuss it with the author. Many of these short-story websites focus more on building a community, which eventually leads to a mutual admiration society. So far, Storypony seems like it hasn’t devolved into that, and the articles are picked on merit.

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2. Bungo Search (Web): Filter Project Gutenberg by Time Taken to Read

Some of the world’s greatest authors have written incredible short stories, including the likes of O. Henry, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Edgar Allen Poe. After the copyright period expires on these, you can read them for free on Project Gutenberg. Bungo Search is a new web app to filter titles on Project Gutenberg by reading time.

The length of the short story is up to you, with the options being 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, one hour, two hours, or three hours. This reading time is based on the average person reading 300 words per minute. To choose the title, Bungo Search gives you the name of the short story and the author’s name, along with an excerpt of the beginning and its popularity on Project Gutenberg.

Bungo Search also adds the NGSL percentage, an excellent tool for those trying to learn English by reading. NGSL, or New General Service List, is a collection of 2800 words seen as an integral core of the English language. The higher the NGSL percentage of a story, the more easily you’ll pick up the language. For experienced English readers, a high NGSL usage also means that you’ll read the story quickly, without looking up words in the dictionary constantly.

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3. The Short Story Project (Web, Android, iOS): Classic and Translated Short Stories

The Short Story Project finds little pieces of fiction worth reading from myriad sources: original publications, translated works from other languages, and a retelling of the classics. The mobile apps are especially great at collecting the pieces you want to read.

Translation is a central focus of The Short Story Project, which in itself opens up the world to so many more stories. Through categories like Latin, Arabic, German, Russian, and Israeli literature, you’ll come across fiction that breaks barriers. Yes, it’s available to read in English, and while the language might not be perfect all the time, it’s good enough to enjoy the new flavor of different worlds.

Each short story has an estimated reading time and a short description before you dive in. The project features audio retellings of classic English short stories too. Some of the stories and features are behind a paywall, but the bulk of free offerings on The Short Story Project are enough to enjoy it.

Download: The Short Story Project for Android | iOS (Free)

4. 1001 Classic Short Stories & Tales (Podcast): Soothing Narrations of the Classics

Narrator and podcast specialist Jon Hagadorn has a free podcast full of classic short stories and tales. Hagadorn, known for his “1001 Stories” podcast series on horror, history, and other genres, brings the classics to life with his inimitable narration style.

Hagadorn’s voice is the selling point of this podcast. He doesn’t have the deep voice you’ve come to expect from movie trailers or audiobook narrations. Nor does he act out different characters or situations to add flavor. It’s a humble retelling in a clear and endearing voice, which puts the story in the forefront. And after all, you’re here for the story, right?

The 1001 Classic Short Stories & Tales podcast releases a new episode every week. So far in its 200-episode run, it has already covered Agatha Christie, H. P. Lovecraft, Anton Chekov, Bram Stoker, and other literary giants. It’s a soothing podcast to listen to before you doze off.

Subscribe: 1001 Classic Short Stories & Tales podcast on Apple | Stitcher | PlayerFM | Megaphone RSS Feed

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5. Short Story Award (Web): The Best Contemporary Short Stories

The Sunday Times Short Story Award, ongoing since 2010, offers a massive prize of 30,000 British pounds to the best short story of the year. All stories are under 6,000 words, and surprisingly, many of them are available for free online.

The Short Story Award makes you work for it though. It’s easy to browse all nominations dating back to 2010. But you won’t find an easy link to go read any nominated story. Instead, you’ll have to type the author and story title in Google and find a free place to read it at. The 2020 and 2019 list’s stories aren’t all free, but go back a few years, and you’ll find that those stories are now freely available online.

The award is a nice way to find new authors spinning short stories that are relevant for current times. While it’s great to read the classics, some contemporary literature is going to be a future generation’s classic, so why wait to read it?

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