Top 3 Places to Hear Short Stories on the Web

Listen to Stories Come Alive

Nothing makes a short story come alive like hearing it read aloud, especially by a professional performer or a respected author who has chosen a favorite story to share.

If you sometimes find yourself thinking, "I wish I had more time to read!" maybe it's time to explore some short story podcasts. Whether you're stuck in traffic or putting in time on the treadmill, the following podcasts offer not just great stories, but also compelling context and commentary. Once you've tried them, you'll never look at print the same.

Image courtesy of CileSun92.

Once a month, The New Yorker publishes a fiction podcast in which one famous fiction writer reads the work of another. All of the stories come from The New Yorker's archives, and all of the readers have had their own work published in the magazine. The podcasts also include a discussion with Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker's fiction editor.

The New Yorker is one of the most powerful forces in literary culture, so listening to this podcast feels partly like hearing a history lesson, and partly like eavesdropping at a really exclusive party.

One of my favorite episodes features Edwidge Danticat reading and commenting on two stories by Jamaica Kincaid. It is fascinating to hear Danticat-a formidable writer herself-talk about being "blown away" the first time she encountered Kincaid's work, when Kincaid gave a reading at the college Danticat attended. At the time, Danticat hadn't even told anyone she wanted to be a writer.

Danticat says that Kincaid's "stories are meant to be read aloud," and her enthusiasm for Kincaid's work is infectious. This is the beauty of The New Yorker Fiction Podcast: hearing some of the most talented writers on the planet detailing their appreciation for the work of others.

Price: Free.

Access: Listen online at The New Yorker. Subscribe or download at iTunes or LearnOutLoud.com or PodBean.com. More »

Like The New Yorker Fiction Podcast, the Guardian Short Stories Podcast also features a famous writer reading his or her favorite short story by another writer. Each episode also includes an interview by the editor of the Guardian's Saturday Review section, Lisa Allardice.

The readers and stories featured here have not necessarily been published in the Guardian, and there's something intoxicating about knowing the entire sweep of literary history is open here. The choices span a wide range of countries and time periods. Hanif Kureishi, for example, reads Franz Kafka's "A Hunger Artist," Simon Callow reads Charles Dickens' "The Christmas Tree," and Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie reads Ama Ata Aidoo's "No Sweetness Here."

While The New Yorker places the stories in the context of a conversation between the reader and the editor, the Guardian opens directly with a reading of the story. If you want some background, you can choose to read the introductory text on the website, but the audio is designed to let you experience the story first without being influenced by the commentary.

Price: Free.

Access: Listen or download at the Guardian. More »

Selected Shorts is a weekly public radio program showcasing short stories. The show is broadcast on many public radio stations and is also available as a podcast. If you're in the New York City area, you can buy tickets to the live performances at Symphony Space. Live performances are occasionally scheduled for other cities, as well.

Unlike the other podcasts mentioned here, Selected Shorts emphasizes performance, not just reading. The performers are all highly regarded actors, whether from film, stage, or both. Their work isn't just a recitation-it's an interpretation, so that even if you're already familiar with the story you're listening to, you'll understand it in a new light. Selected Shorts also offers the camaraderie of hearing the laughter and applause of a live audience.

A recent episode hosted by David Sedaris focused entirely on stories by Dorothy Parker, performed by Jane Alexander, Dana Ivey, and Parker Posey. Selected Shorts features considerably less commentary than the other podcasts, but Sedaris's simple observation that "today we're relishing Dorothy Parker" left me pondering his perfect word choice for hours afterward. "Relishing" seems just exactly the way one experiences Dorothy Parker.

Price: Free for the five most recent episodes. $1-$28 for additional stories and collections.

Access: Use the Public Radio International Program Finder to check your local public radio schedule for Selected Shorts. Subscribe, listen to the five most recent episodes, or download the current episode at the Selected Shorts website. Purchase single stories and collections at the Symphony Space store. More »

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Sustana, Catherine. "Top 3 Places to Hear Short Stories on the Web." ThoughtCo, Nov. 30, 2014, thoughtco.com/places-to-hear-short-stories-web-2990535. Sustana, Catherine. (2014, November 30). Top 3 Places to Hear Short Stories on the Web. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/places-to-hear-short-stories-web-2990535 Sustana, Catherine. "Top 3 Places to Hear Short Stories on the Web." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/places-to-hear-short-stories-web-2990535 (accessed November 24, 2017).