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The Best Short Stories of O. Henry

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  2,462 ratings  ·  80 reviews
The more than 600 stories written by O. Henry provided an embarrassment of riches for the compilers of this volume.The final selection of the thirty-eight stories in this collection offers for the reader's delight those tales honored almost unanimously by anthologists and those that represent, in variety and balance, the best work of America's favorite storyteller.They are ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 22nd 1994 by Modern Library (first published 1904)
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Best Short Story Collections
12th out of 615 books — 502 voters
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Best Twists
267th out of 1,728 books — 3,897 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 195)
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"Of course there are two sides to the question. Let us look at the other."
The writers of short stories, the bar has been set. And it's really high. I've known it since I was about eight or nine, when my mother (bless the heart of the amazing literature teacher I have the privilege to be descended from!) slipped me a nondescript brown-cover book opened to the page with the title 'The Gift of the Magi'.

I read the story, and then the rest of a hundred or so in that little brown book, and the impos
Prior to reading this collection, my only association with O. Henry was the famous 'Gift of the Magi' which has spawned innumerable replications, homages, references, and allusions. I was moved to explore the rest of his writing at the recommendation of a short story how-to book. It claimed O. Henry was an acknowledged master of the short story, creating interesting characters with a compelling hook, and then his trademark twist at the end.

Yes, there's a twist at the end of every story. Every sh
And you thought O. Henry was just a witty name for a mediocre candy bar..."O" no!! This guy's another master of the English language, and I'm a sucker for a good short story. "Gift of the Magi" and "The Last Leaf" are unmatched. Its just a shame they couldn't have named a tasty Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor after him instead.
Dearest Reader,
It is with the greatest pleasure I bring to your attention one of the most excellent writer of the nineteen and twentieth centuries, O. Henry. In his time, O. Henry wrote over six hundred short stories that continue to delight readers to this day. His work is entirely memorable, once you have read “The Ransom of Red Chief” or “Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen”, you will never forget them. The writing is generally humorous, with a profound awareness of social ills.
Some may find t
Lahni Johnson
I discovered this book one day long ago on my parents bookshelf. It's kind of a smaller book and had been stuck between a huge atlas of the universe and the wall. Once I liberated it I decided to take my dad's advice (If you're bored go read O. Henry) and now I have my own copy sitting on my bookshelf gathering dust and waiting to be discovered by someone new.
I love O. Henry. I've a collection of his stories, but I'm not sure if it's actually this edition or not. At any rate, my favorite of his short stories is "The Pride of the Cities". It's probably available as an e-text SOMEwhere. Give it a perusal, the ending is too perfect for words. (There's a bit of a pun in that last comment)
I re-read some of these old favorites last year, and I have to agree with Helen that O. Henry is the master of the short story.
Zach Barnes
Wonderful Bed-side reading with a message. Collection of some of his best work, the master of the short story
Gideon Arulmani
The twists at the end of the tale are always breath taking.
Jan 14, 2009 Jennie added it
This is one of my favorites.
The collection of O. Henry's best short stories starts off with his most famous one , "The Gift of the Magi", which I have loved for many years. I really did not know what to expect from the rest of the collection, but for the most part they were similarly entertaining. I guess I really like more character and plot development than can be done in a short story so I often felt they were abruptly ended, but then I suppose that is the nature of the genre.

Set in the late 18th and early 19th century,
O. Henry wasn't what I was expecting. Since the prestigious prize is named for him, I expected him to be the pinnacle of the genre of short stories. I know he's been a bit neglected by modern lit critics as light reading, but I wasn't prepared for how magazine-y these stories are. Not that they lack literary merit I guess... just that there are so many cheap, trick endings you begin to feel once you've read one, you've read them all. Also I don't think they've aged well... O. Henry loves to do d ...more
Some touching moments (see the Leaf story), some very unusual settings, and some poignant twists. At other times, however, the reader can see his trademark twist coming a mile away. Maybe he's a victim of his posterity. Like when you go to watch Spaceballs because it was so awesome when you saw it 20-something years ago, but the humor has been redone so many times since then the movie is innefective. It's not Mel Brooks's fault! Or maybe Spaceballs is just lame, and you were only 12 so the lamen ...more
Jul 29, 2008 Dad rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all

I had only previously The Gift of the Magi which I dearly love. From the High School library I checked out this book. It is 1600+ pages, and it took me a while to read it, but it was well worth the time. In our world it is hard to find books that are clean. This was one of those books. Many of the short stories are merely entertaining while others teach significant morals. If a person would buy this book, he/she could use it to teach his family principles of good living.
Summer Larson
I have long been familiar with "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Last Leaf" so I was excited to find more O'Henry gems in this book. Some of the stories were clever, and some were boring, a few were wise, but overall I was disappointed with this book. Usually when I like an author I wish they had written more, but I guess there is such a thing as being too prolific.
Tried my best to read this for book club but had a hard time and didn't finish it. O. Henry was a trailblazer in his day, and is considered the grandfather of the short story and the twist ending. Today, I think audiences are much more sophisticated and it's not hard to foresee the twist in most of his stories.
Satish Jha
It is hard to believe Saki and O Henry were contemporaries. Chekhov fine he was of different school. But the detailed often ruffian characters and clever plot of O Henry with the setting in a different land miraculously complement the fluid prose and more commonplace setting of Saki
Keith Madsen
I remember studying O.Henry as a short story writer back in high school (admittedly, a long time ago!), and since I am now writing short stories myself, I decided to reread his work. I was once again pleased with his signature twists at the end of his stories. I particularly enjoyed his classics -- "The Gift of the Magi" (a Christmas classic), "The Passing of Black Eagle", and "The Ransom of Red Chief" (which inspired, I think the Bette Midler movie, "Ruthless People"). There were of course, sev ...more
My favorite airplane companion...not the book you bring to LOOK like you're reading something intelligent...but nice, compact stories with twists to leave you feeling satisfied, even if you're interrupted by the captain's comments a little too often.
I'm sure these had a time and place but in the present(jaded, cynical) world the stories had a saccharine overload. I eventually needed to bail and toss this in the trash. (I was never a big fan of the O. Henry candy bar, either.)
Had no idea about this author - took it from my mom's book shelf. The stories are short and really witty - who knew that he wrote the Gift of the Magi?!! And who knew it was only 5 pages long!!
Really good read

I gave this an extra star because it was given to me at the O Henry Hotel I stayed out and I thought that was pretty cool. The hotel also had the BEST bed I have ever slept in and the absolute BEST pillows ever.
Jul 26, 2007 Elizabeth is currently reading it
Not so much short stories, as whimsical musings on life's little ironies. These short sketches make for great bedtime stories. I keep a copy on my bedside table.
Sep 16, 2007 Helen added it
I love O. Henry. My favorite story is "Tobin's Palm," and I'm not sure if that is in this particular collection (it is not in a lot of the collections).
I often attribute my sense of humor to this guy, Roald Dahl and a strong desire to hide my vulnerabilities from others...
great short stories when you want an unexpected twist or a glimpse of life at the turn-of-the-century
I read this stories over and over. Even though you know the ending, it's still cool the way they twist!
Very victorian and sentimental, but O. Henry is a master story teller.
I love these short stories, funny and witty, cannot stop reading them.
It was really fun to read these classical O Henry stories. They are timeless.
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William Sydney Porter lends the pen name "O. Henry" to surprise endings signed officially as Sydney Porter. His biography shows where he found inspiration for his characters. Their voices and his language were products of his era.

He was born 1862 Greensboro, North Carolina. When he was three years old, his mother died from tuberculosis. He left school at fifteen, worked five years in uncle's drugs
More about O. Henry...
The Gift of the Magi Selected Stories The Ransom of Red Chief The Gift of the Magi and Other Short Stories The Last Leaf

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