While we take a break over the holidays, Library of America presents—in case you missed any of them—the ten most-read (based on traffic during the two weeks after the story was posted) stories from the past year.
1. Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Day Before the Revolution”
Faced with the impending success of the revolution she inspired, Laia Asieo Odo meditates on her turbulent past and imminent mortality.
2. Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Birth-mark”
A scientist, increasingly distracted by a small mark on his wife’s face, suggests to her that he might be able to create a formula to remove it.
3. John Quincy Adams, “This Whole Horrible Transaction”
The former president investigates the complex history of a woman who kills two of her children when they are all sold into slavery.
4. Walt Whitman, “Death in the School-Room”
Whitman’s first work of fiction, in which a young student is falsely accused by his teacher of stealing and then, caught sleeping, punished.
5. James Thurber, “If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox”
In this parody of the alternative history genre, Thurber imagines what might have happened if, on the morning of the end of the Civil War, Grant woke up with a dreadful hangover.
6. Carson McCullers, “The Great Eaters of Georgia”
Carson McCullers (whose centennial is this year) returned to Georgia in 1953 to write a travel piece for Holiday magazine.
7. Alexander Hamilton, “Account of a Hurricane”
Seventeen-year-old Alexander Hamilton, living on the island of Saint Croix, sends a letter to the father he hasn’t seen in seven years and describes a recent, devastating hurricane.
8. F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Dalyrimple Goes Wrong”
Bryan Dalyrimple receives a hero’s welcome on his return from the European front—only to realize “that he had to go to work—right away.”
9. Rupert Trimmingham (with others), “Democracy?”
An Army corporal eats in the kitchen of a segregated lunchroom in a railroad station—and then German prisoners of war show up.
10. Edgar Allan Poe, “The Angel of the Odd”
The narrator’s unwillingness to believe in unlikely coincidences challenges the Angel of the Odd, who revenges himself in a series of perils and accidents.