Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “41 Stories” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
41 Stories
O. Henry
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

41 Stories

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  452 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Forty-one stories arranged by geographic location display O. Henry's genius for plot twists, surprise endings and deep insights into human nature.
Published September 5th 1986 by Signet Classics (first published 1984)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about 41 Stories, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about 41 Stories

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Stephen Williams
Jun 07, 2016 Stephen Williams rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The less said the better.

One star.
Jan 05, 2014 Sherril rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OH O Henry!!!

One of the best things about being in a good book club (and there are many) is that you end up reading books that you may otherwise, never have picked up . We read, several years ago, 41 Stories by O. Henry. I am a bit ashamed to admit that I do not recall ever reading any of his works. Perhaps he came up in High School English, but considering how much I enjoyed this book, I think I would have remembered.

O. Henry was a pseudonym. I did not know this. His real name was William Sydne
Aug 16, 2011 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These stories present a fanciful impression of the wonders of language and craft. Without losing the artist's keen awareness of humanity's nuances, for me, these works ultimately led me to ponder the essence of irony and to question why the reader would find twists in such plots.

Of course, Alanis Morissette confused irony with unfortunate events. O. Henry understood irony as a simple objection to the expected outcome. But what causes readers to expect certain outcomes? Is there irony in a usele
Jason Goodman
Nov 03, 2013 Jason Goodman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As most people, I am familiar with O'Henry for all of the wrong reasons and stories, naturally his old standards are in here, the hair cut, and the leaf paint job, but that is where the line is drawn. I do not feel, after reading 41 of his stories, that these are necessarily his best. This man has a well so deep filled with sweet puns and it never runs dry, his reference to the issues of his day are incredible, he must have read several newspaper's every morning before getting out of bed. He pul ...more
Sep 30, 2007 Tommy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who loves irony and witty stories
A wonderful collection of some of O'Henry, the master of irony's best works like the Gift Of the Magi. He capture our heart and fragile feelings with his carefully crafted character that we can all connect. And even more so for those who live in the Big Apple since many of the setting is set in this city that never sleeps. Every story is a refreshing taste of great literature infused with his witty word play and background building. This is a win win book there is no way someone can lose reading ...more
Stoyan Stoyanov
Until this book, I had only read "The Gift of the Magi" by O'Henry. This story is part of this book as well. I still believe it is O'Henry's best, even after reading 40 more stories by him. O'Henry's plots which almost always end with a twist, cover a wide spectrum of human experience. The portrayal of poverty and misery in late 19th century New York is so poignant as to be difficult to read. But then, he also deals with love, revenge, con men and their antics -- and his wry humor and almost del ...more
Some of these stories were absolutely brilliant, witty and amusing and surprising. Some were good but not spectacular, and a few were I think so based on references of their (long ago) time that I simply didn't get them.

But the wonderful ones made this a worthwhile read. Oddly, though, the introduction actually gives away the ending of at least two of the stories in the collection. Luckily I realized this was about to happen and skimmed the rest, but I knocked off a star for a spoilery introduct
Chessie Monks-Kelly
Jun 05, 2012 Chessie Monks-Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fiction, 2012
I enjoyed this book of short stories, but had a hard time getting through it. Overall, the stories were fun to read and were full of wit. By the end of the book, though, I was tired of stories about con men. They were often written with hard-to-follow dialects, and I think some of the cultural references of the day went straight over my head. Still, I worked my way through and enjoyed this slice of O. Henry's writings. It might have been better to pick this up from time to time and read a single ...more
Apr 09, 2013 Ernest rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I agree with Mr Burton Raffel who writes in the Introduction: "There are good stories and bad ones..."

The story I like best is "The Lotus and the Bottle". It reminds me of Maugham whom I like a lot.

On the other hand, "Hostages to Momus" is so bad that I could not finish.

In general, the shorter the story, the better it is. "Hostages to Momus"is the longest and is such a drag.

"Conscience in Art" and "Jeff Peters as a Personal Magnet" are also very clever and interesting.
Jun 25, 2008 Jon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These stories are always interesting to read, because they can be touching, sad, inspiring, and almost always ironic. Highlights include "The Furnished Room," a haunting short story about a man going insane because he can smell his lost wife's perfume in the hotel room he is staying at, and "The Gift of the Magi," a classic story about a couple's sacrifice for each other. Sometimes it is easy to see how the story will end, but frequently the endings are surprising and ironic.
Feb 21, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The narrative powers, the ear for flowing yet unforgettable dialogues, and the ability to conjure up dense and mysterious atmospheres with the slightest touches, are second to none.

Note: 41 Stories is a lot, don't feel that you have to read them all at once! I certainly didn't and still have a few to catch up with.
Lisa Lawless
The stories come off a bit predictable to a jaded 2009 reader, but I enjoyed the lighthearted sense of them just the same. There were several choice turns of phrase throughout these stories, but a favorite of mine was in A Double-Eyed Deceiver when the US consul who enjoyed his drink was described as never arriving at his 'desired state of beatitude' until mid afternoon.
Feb 06, 2012 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can't read these stories without thinking two things: first, how fresh they might have seemed when they were written and second, how frequently his plots show up in other places today. "The Gift of the Magi" is his best known and most frequently adapted story but many of the lesser ones will also seem familiar. The stories are all short and almost all of them end with a zinger.
May 26, 2011 Marlan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book over 10 years ago, and absolutely loved O.Henry's stories. They're pretty simple, and probably not the best literary quality all the time, but there are some absolute gems scattered in his writing. Some of the twists are fantastic.

After a while, you come to expect the twist that comes out of every story, but even then they're still good reads.
Jan 30, 2014 Aubren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I greatly enjoyed O. Henry's cleverly written stories. They are filled with sarcasm and wit and always include an unforeseen twist at the end. I am sure there are many examples of this that I unfortunately missed because I don't know my history and am unfamiliar with the culture of O.Henry's time.
I would highly recommend this book.
Jul 13, 2010 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
An interesting collection, with some classics such as "the gift of the Magi" by this master of the twist-at-the-end short story writer. For me, detracting from the wonderful plot twists was the writing style, which is very colloquial, often related in lengthy quotes by characters with dramatic slang, jocular, and often dated (now cryptic) references to pop culture.
Nov 06, 2012 Abby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O. Henry is one of the few authors of short stories that I can really get into. His irony, dry sense of humor, and surprise endings never fail to suck me into his world of cowboys, tropics, and life in the big city.
I read the first few stories from this collection, but never came close to reading them all. I have learned that I just don't like short story collections. I like to read a short story on its own now and then, but if I am reading a book, I like to read a novel.
Oct 29, 2007 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: humans
"Dearest Walter, with hard boiled egg." O Henry is the papa of the short story, no? well, even so. He's quite the bomb at them. His lines will stay with you, and remind you what is is to be human, for a long, long time.
Nov 11, 2008 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the general writing style of O.Henry, but maybe it was reading all 41 stories that casued it to be predictable. After the 5th story, you could predict the ending, thats how formulaic his writing style was. I actually did find a story I enjoyed more than the gift of the maji though.
Feb 18, 2008 April marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I figure since he lived here in Austin and they've got a museum for him, I should reread his stuff and then go check it out. I remember enjoying his stories when I last read them IN 7TH GRADE.

Yeah... long time.

Like OJ-was-on-trial-when-I-last-read-O.-Henry long.
Nov 16, 2007 CMT325 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like short stories
O. Henry wrote one of my favorite short stories, "The Gift of the Magi". While I didn't enjoy any of the stories in this book as much as "TGOTM", (which is in the collection) there are some good ones.
Jan 18, 2009 Patrone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love these clever reviewers giving this collection 2 or 3 stars because they don't like short stories. Here's an idea -- when the cover declares "41 STORIES", how about passing on it? Also fascinated by the brainiacs who find him "dated." Go back to Middlesex, dimwits.
Jul 16, 2008 Joseph rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
Great comedic writing, similar to the wit of Washington Irving, but, the short story format is just not that satisfying.
Oct 02, 2007 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading some short stories lately, and O. Henry is about as good a short story writer as there is. Some of these got a little tedious, but generally they are great.
Chris Bowles
not a book you can read front to back but really nice to read a couple here and there. O'Henery was a master of irony.
Aug 04, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We sell this in the O. Henry museum gift shop- one of the better collections of O. Henry's work, definitely recommend it!
Aug 10, 2007 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
O Henry's stories are timeless favorites.
May 11, 2015 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd only ever read the Gift of the Magi previously, so it was great treat to discover all of these other wonderful stories.
Jen Dee
Oct 12, 2013 Jen Dee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of wonderful, classic short stories, most with the classic O. Henry twist. I recommend it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Black Spirits and White - A Book of Ghost Stories
  • The Portable Graham Greene
  • The Magic of Shirley Jackson
  • Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope (Riverside Editions)
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Christmas: A Candid History
  • Humorous Stories and Sketches
  • Collected Stories
  • Howard Who?
  • The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind the New York Times
  • Lost Face
  • Contentment: A Godly Woman's Adornment
  • Dear Laura: Letters from Children to Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Letters of Virginia Woolf: Volume Three, 1923-1928
  • Problems: And Other Stories
  • The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue
  • The Signalman
  • The Jungle Book ; Just So Stories
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 his uncle's d
More about O. Henry...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Art does not have to be dull, to be effective; the artist does not have to be a bore, to be real.” 2 likes
More quotes…