Short stories will always hold a special place in my heart. The way an author polishes each piece until it shines, every single story its own unique gem, will never cease to feel like magic to me. To work, short stories require such precision and every word needs to be there for a reason. When it comes to audiobooks, I think the best collections use a cast of narrators to note the change from one short story to another. But, there are a few narrators who can pull off audiobook short story collections all by themselves.
Runaway by Alice Munro, Narrated by Kimberly Dakin
As an avid Alice Munro fan, I may be biased, but I believe you can’t go wrong with any short story collection you pick up by this master of the craft. My most recent excursion into Munro’s work brought me to Runaway, a collection that focuses on characters in movement, coming or going from circumstances they can’t entirely control. Unlike previous collections of hers that I’ve read, Runaway’s stories feel a little more modern, less timeless, but no less captivating. Though Kimberly Dakin narrates these stories by herself, she’s still able to create a unique feel or mood for each piece.
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw, Narrated by Janina Edwards
The last book I listened to in 2020 stands, by far, as my favorite of the year. The audiobook edition of Philyaw’s The Secret Life of Church Ladies was finally released a couple days before the end of December. This collection focuses on the lives of Black women, most from or with roots in the American south. Many are queer, and all are trying to figure out their place in the world and navigate the complex relationships in their lives. Janina Edwards performs the audiobook flawlessly and was the perfect choice for these stories.
The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans, Narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Nicole Lewis, Brittany Pressley, Shayna Small, January LaVoy, Adenrele Ojo, and Janina Edwards
From the moment that The Office of Historical Corrections hit the shelves, I haven’t stopped hearing about it. Fellow book nerds kept telling me to pick up this book until I finally did, and I can’t help but agree; this short story collection will knock your socks off. The way Evans creates a world for her characters to inhabit and draws out their stories page by page (or minute by minute, rather) illustrates such an understanding of pacing and story structure. And the wide range cast of audiobook performers make The Office of Historical Corrections a truly great listening experience.
Awayland of Ramona Ausubel, Narrated by a Full Cast
Sometimes I crave stories all about the weird and wonderful. It’s these times that I reach for Ramona Ausubel. Though she writes both long and short fiction, Ausubel’s short stories are my favorite of hers. She’s able to create unique, often magical, worlds in such a short amount of space. Her use of the fantastical creates this otherworldly sort of storytelling that reads like fables or fairy tales.
So We Can Glow by Leesa Cross-Smith, Narrated by Erin Bennett, Kamali Minter, Cassandra Morris, Sisi Aisha Johnson, Je Nie Fleming, and Christine Lakin
Is there anything as wonderful as Leesa Cross-Smith’s storytelling? Whatever the length of the story, these characters and their adventures will capture your attention from the first few minutes. Cross-Smith’s unique brand of literary romance creates the perfect blend of excellent prose and romantic scenarios. The amazing cast of narrators help your mind jump from story to story as you listen, giving each piece its own unique voice and feel.