Entering the realm of short fiction can be daunting. There’s so many avenues through which one can find a short story to read – online literary magazines, paper literary journals and good old fashioned books, just to name a few – and so many different writers currently working on stories that are shorter than the average novella. Many people never venture into the world of short stories and instead decide to stick to novels, which are certainly one of the most (if not the most) popular forms of writing.
I have started to gravitate more towards short stories than novels for a variety of reason. As a writer, I find that it is extraordinarily beneficial for me to read the work of authors who are writing the kind of work I like to write. At this point in my writing career, I am writing short stories and most ideas for novels have been put on the back burner. Reading short stories, then, is a great way for me to find out more about the form I am working and develop craft – but it’s also a way to expose myself to some wonderful short stories by some astounding writers.
If you are interested in the brevity of short stories versus the novel, the concept of reading a story at a time rather than a chapter at a time, or are already immersed in the world of short stories but looking for some new collections to pick up then look no further. Here’s a list of some short story collections to peruse!
1) "The Oxford Book of American Short Stories" edited by Joyce Carol Oates
A well known and well respected short story composer in her own right, Oates has collected a series of stories here that span from some very early short stories (like “Rip Van Winkle”) to more recent stories that capture the imagination. Although this book wasn’t published super recently, it’s a good one to pick up if you’re wanting an introduction into the short story world.
2) "Like Life" by Lorries Moore
If anyone were to ask me what writer has been most influential for me in my own work, I would have to say Lorrie Moore. Moore is an expert at developing characters that are believable, strange, and yet somehow relatable. This short story collection is full of such characters and is a treat to read.
3) "Walk the Blue Fields" by Claire Keegan
The stories in Walk the Blue Fields are all set in Ireland, Keegan’s homeland, and explore numerous different characters facing numerous different challenges. These stories are all great reads on their own, but together work to create a tapestry of history and color unlike any other.
4) "Half Wild" by Robin MacArthur
This book is full of great stories of strong characters that leave an impact. The voice of these characters, combined with MacArthur’s own, leave an impression.
5) "For the Relief of Unbearable Urges" by Nathan Englander
In For the Relief of Unbearable Urges the characters and plots are familiar and foreign at the same time, making for a truly intriguing read. These stories span time from Stalin’s Russia to contemporary New York and each one has a simply unforgettable moment or character that doesn’t leave one after reading.
These are just some of the books on my shelf full of short stories that I have enjoyed reading. Writing a complete story in a short amount of words is an art, and I always appreciate the craftsmanship of a good tale. I’d encourage you to venture into the realm of the short story and pick up one of these books – I’m sure you won’t regret it.