34 Short Stories About Love to Read & Learn From

Posted on Aug 29, 2023

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Written by Bella Rose Pope

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Ah, love. Romance is popular for a reason. So many of us can relate to it deeply, and who doesn’t love short stories about love for a quick snippet to quench our thirst?

While you may be looking for a novel to read, we recommend trying out a short story. Romance novels may be able to expound upon love and the intricacies of it, but we’ve found that romance short stories tend to be poignant and leave us thinking deeper about love’s true meaning.

Dive on in and read a few of these this week!

Writing Short Stories About Love

If you’re here as a writer looking for some inspiration, we’re with you! Learning to write a short story is one thing, but how do you write about love in short form? It’s often difficult to depict such a strong emotion in just a few pages, so we understand the trouble you may be having.

Whether you’re trying to figure out character development, or the right length of your short story, gaining inspiration with other short stories about love is always a good idea.

While reading these stories, think about what you like about them and how they compare to your own story. Also consider that if you’re having trouble keeping the story short, you may be better off writing a romance novel instead.

Either way, happy reading!

34 Short Stories About Love You’ll Want to Read This Month

Pick a few, put them on the calendar, and read away! You can even make your reading theme this month all about love to kickstart your ideas and get you thinking about the right things.

1. “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry

This short story about love is a classic. Chances are, you’ve actually read it before, or at least heard it in school. It’s about a young married couple, Jim and Della, as they struggle to afford Christmas gifts for each other.

Della sells her long hair to buy Jim a chain for his prized pocket watch, while Jim sells his watch to buy Della a set of combs for her hair. The story highlights their selfless love and the irony of their sacrificial gifts.

2. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

In a seemingly idyllic town, the townspeople gather for an annual lottery. As the lottery proceeds, it’s revealed that the “winner” will be stoned to death by the community, including their own family. The story explores the dangers of blindly following tradition.

If you don’t think this is one of the short stories about love, read it again.

3. “The Chaser” by John Collier

In this one, a young man seeks a love potion from an old man. Initially, the potion makes the woman he desires fall madly in love with him, but he soon realizes that it also has a deadly side effect. The story examines the consequences of pursuing love through manipulation.

This is one of the short stories about love you can use to learn how to twist your story’s meaning to go deeper than just love.

4. “The Last Leaf” by O. Henry

Two young women, Johnsy and Sue, share an apartment during a serious illness outbreak. Johnsy believes she’ll die when the last ivy leaf falls from a vine outside their window. An old artist paints a leaf on the wall to give Johnsy hope. The story illustrates the power of hope and friendship.

Plus, it’s a bit topical to the world’s events of the last couple of years. And it’s a peek into non romantic love—something you can use to write your own short story.

5. “Hills Like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway

A couple sits at a train station in Spain, discussing whether the woman should have an abortion. Their conversation is cryptic and filled with unspoken emotions, revealing the complexities of their relationship and the decision they face.

6. “A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri

A couple, Shukumar and Shoba, experience emotional distance after their baby dies. During scheduled power outages, they open up to each other about their secrets, revealing the impact of their grief on their marriage.

7. “The Kiss” by Kate Chopin

A newlywed woman is haunted by a passionate kiss she received from a man she barely knows. Her obsession with the kiss reveals her internal conflict between societal expectations and her personal desires.

8. “The Love of a Good Woman” by Alice Munro

In a small town, a nurse named Enid discovers a collection of letters that reveal a hidden story of love and tragedy. The story explores the complexities of human relationships and the secrets people keep.

9. “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver

Two couples discuss their different perspectives on love while drinking. The conversation delves into the various forms of love, touching on themes of passion, obsession, and emotional pain.

10. “Brokeback Mountain” by Annie Proulx

Ennis and Jack, two ranch hands, develop a deep and passionate love during a summer spent herding sheep on Brokeback Mountain. However, societal expectations and personal struggles prevent them from fully embracing their love.

Of course, you probably recognize this one. It was made into a popular movie.

11. “The Dead” by James Joyce (from “Dubliners”)

Gabriel Conroy attends a holiday party with his wife, Gretta, and is confronted with feelings of distance from his Irish identity. After Gretta is moved by a song, she reveals a secret from her past, leading Gabriel to a deep realization about life and love.

12. “Cat in the Rain” by Ernest Hemingway’

A wife feels unfulfilled in her marriage and longs for a pet cat. During a rainy day at a hotel, she becomes fixated on rescuing a cat she sees outside, leading to a moment of emotional vulnerability between her and her husband.

13. “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant

Mathilde, a woman discontent with her social status, borrows a beautiful necklace for a high-society event. When she loses the necklace, she and her husband go to great lengths to replace it, only to realize the necklace was a fake all along.

14. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

A woman suffering from postpartum depression is confined to a room by her husband, who believes rest is the cure. As she becomes increasingly obsessed with the room’s wallpaper, her mental state deteriorates.

15. “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver

A blind man comes to visit a couple, and the husband initially feels uncomfortable around him. Through a shared experience of drawing a cathedral, the husband gains a new perspective on empathy, connection, and understanding.

16. “Everything That Rises Must Converge” by Flann

A young man accompanies his mother on a bus ride, and their differing views on race and class come to a head during their interactions with a black woman and her son.

If you’re trying to write short stories about love, you can’t discount the love of a mother.

17. “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe

A narrator insists on their sanity while recounting the gruesome murder they committed. The story explores the narrator’s descent into madness and guilt.

18. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

Upon hearing of her husband’s death, Mrs. Mallard experiences a moment of elation and freedom. However, her husband’s unexpected return leads to a tragic outcome.

19. “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin

A man reconnects with his troubled younger brother, Sonny, who has struggled with addiction. The story explores their complex relationship and the redemptive power of music.

20. “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe

Montresor lures Fortunato, a wine connoisseur, into his catacombs to exact revenge. The story delves into the dark motives and psychological tension between the two characters.

21. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates

A teenage girl named Connie is targeted by a mysterious and charismatic man named Arnold Friend. The story delves into themes of innocence, manipulation, and danger.

So rather than being one of the short stories about love, it’s more of what love isn’t.

22. “Babylon Revisited” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Charlie Wales returns to Paris after the stock market crash, attempting to regain custody of his daughter. The story explores his regrets, past mistakes, and his desire for redemption.

23. “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

A scientist becomes obsessed with removing a birthmark from his wife’s cheek, believing it mars her perfection. His actions lead to tragic consequences and a reflection on the nature of human imperfection.

Again we have one of the short stories about love that uses a non love story to showcase the true nature of unconditional love.

24. “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin

In the utopian city of Omelas, happiness and prosperity depend on the suffering of a single child. The story raises profound ethical questions about the nature of happiness and morality.

25. “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” by J.D. Salinger

A soldier named Seymour Glass interacts with a young girl named Sybil on a Florida beach. The story explores themes of trauma, communication, and the disconnect between adults and children.

There’s a lot to learn from many of these short stories about love, particularly this one as it relates to these themes.

26. “The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty

Set during the Irish Civil War, a sniper experiences the brutal reality of warfare and faces a personal and unexpected revelation about his enemy.

27. “The Country Husband” by John Cheever

Francis Weed, a suburban husband and father, undergoes a transformation after surviving a plane crash. The story examines his desires, relationships, and the pursuit of meaning. If you want a heartwarming example of how you can craft your own short stories about love, give this one a read.

28. “The Swimmer” by John Cheever

Neddy Merrill embarks on a journey to swim across his affluent neighborhood’s pools, experiencing a surreal and poignant transformation along the way. While it might not sound all that intriguing, there is plenty to learn here.

29. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce

Peyton Farquhar, a Confederate sympathizer, faces imminent execution during the Civil War. The story alternates between his escape fantasy and the grim reality.

30. “The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield

The Sheridan family prepares for a garden party while a working-class man’s death occurs nearby. The story explores the contrast between the privileged world of the Sheridans and the reality of life and death.

When it comes to short stories about love, it’s hard not to shine a light on the differences in class and what that can do for love.

31. “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros

On her eleventh birthday, Rachel reflects on the complexities of growing up and the layers of her identity and of course, love.

32. “The Lady or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton

In a semi-barbaric kingdom, a princess must choose whether to direct her lover toward a door with a lady behind it or a tiger that will kill him. The story ends with an unresolved cliffhanger, leaving the conclusion to the reader’s imagination.

33. “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst

The story follows the relationship between a boy and his physically disabled younger brother, whom he pushes to walk. The story delves into themes of love, pride, and the consequences of expectations.

34. “A&P” by John Updike

A young cashier named Sammy quits his job at a grocery store in protest of his manager’s treatment of three young women in bathing suits. The story explores themes of rebellion, individuality, and societal expectations.

You’ll find other themes intertwined in this story, as with the other short stories about love shared above.

Whether you just want to create a stockpile to read or are trying to write something yourself, these short stories about love are great examples of the wide range that “love” falls under. Find these online or purchase them from a publication and read today!

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