Reading List for “The Choice”

The Narrative Archive offers thousands of stories, poems, and essays free of charge—we invite you to gather inspiration by getting lost in our stacks. Need a place to start? We’ve handpicked a few of our favorite pieces that center on a pivotal choice, and included a brief prompt below each title.

Dear America,” an essay by Hugo Anaya de Jesus

• What emotions does the author provoke in the reader in this short work? How does the author achieve this?

Bats,” an essay by Anton Disclafani

• How does the author use imagery to effectively illustrate the emotional consequences of her pivotal choice?

Devil’s Child,” a story by Farnaz Fassihi

• What choices have you made for the well-being of others? Did you sacrifice your own well-being?

Underaged,” a story by Avianca Jackson

• Listen to the song mentioned in the story. How does it contribute to the story’s meaning?

Nicky Nicky Nine Doors,” a story by Alex Jaros

• How does the story’s setting inform (or even inspire) the narrator’s choice?

The Second-Worst Rug My Father’s Ever Seen,” an essay by Spencer Wise

• When was a time that you disappointed someone that you loved? What were the consequences?

Villa Palms,” a story by Jenny Xie

• What details connect the choices made by the story’s mother and daughter?

General Reading List
The Narrative Archive doesn’t stop there! Great reading—no matter the subject matter—inspires great writing. So dive into the below essays, stories, and poems too. You never know when you’ll read something that sticks.


Snapshots of My Brother” by Lynn Ahrens
Whale Shark” by Rick Bass
Catching Out” by Charles D’Ambrosio
Sparrow” by Maria Hummel
Real People” by Jayne Anne Phillips
Blue Lake” by Laura Rose
At Lee” by Jack Schiff
Mysteries of Love and Grief” by Sandra Scofield


Hands” by Sherwood Anderson
The Woman in the Rose-Colored Dress” by Gina Berriault
Araby” by James Joyce
The Treatment of Bibi Halder” by Jhumpa Lahiri
Red Dress–1946” by Alice Munro
The Man Arguing in the Kitchen” by Gina Ochsner
Friday Night Fish Fry” by Austin Smith
In the Water” by Brenden Willey


Los Angeles” by Chris Abani
How to Be a Real Indian” by Kenzie Allen
How to Live in an American Town” by Jennifer Chang
night vision” and “it was a dream” by Lucille Clifton
Slow Dance” by Matthew Dickman
Weak Winter Sun” by Jim Harrison
English” by Yusef Komunyakaa
To the New Year” by W. S. Merwin
A Small Motor” by Alberto Álvaro Ríos
What We Have” by Ruth Stone
Trojan” by Ocean Vuong
Put This Book Down” by Javier Zamora
Poem for Americans” by Matthew Zapruder

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