We’ve all read short story collections. Whether writing college papers or browsing in a local bookshop, short stories are very accessible. My first anthology was a Women’s Studies assortment during my undergrad years. While I don’t remember the title, I do recall Virginia Woolf’s story “Lapin and Lapinova.” It was such a surprising story of love and heartbreak.
Short story collections are an invaluable resource in learning about an author’s work. Think of these stories as a “sample” before exploring a full novel. Indeed, there are soo many stories to choose from!
What Makes A Short Story Popular
Of course, what draws us to short stories? What makes us devour them?
- Quick content. Let’s face it…we have busy, hectic lives! Not everyone has the time and energy to read a heavy tome. My educator schedule keeps me from knocking out a book in one day, yet short stories allow us to read an entire tale in less than 30 pages.
- Sampling the author. We’ve all done it. We find an author that clicks with us, yet we are not sure about buying (or borrowing) their books. Short story collections offer us a great solution: reading small samples before the book commitment. I’ve tried this method before picking up favorite reads.
- Several tales in one! The best part about story compilations? They have many tales to choose from. Additionally, we can go through a short story in minimal time. I immerse myself in a tale during lunch break, or after a long day of work. Always a guaranteed stress reliever!
Who Reads Short Story Collections
Anyone! Whether you’re a student or someone searching for a good yarn, short story collections are perfect for all readers. Book Break offers a reading guide to those unfamiliar with the format:
8 Timeless Short Story Collections
Here are some more short story compilations that are worth your time:
After the Quake BY HARUKI MURAKAMI
After the Quake addresses trauma within the human experience. Set during the time of the 1995 Kobe earthquake, these six stories take us through the fragility of humanity. From a woman experiencing a reset (Thailand) to college friends reevaluating their bonds (Honey Pie), these characters indeed delve into the meaning of completeness.
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
The House on Mango Street is both poetic and powerful. Through the eyes of young Esparanza, her life is told in 40 vignettes. This stunning collection highlights Esparanza’s life as a young girl fighting poverty and misogyny. Cisneros certainly details the plight of women through Esparanza’s perspective. As she matures, she experiences firsthand the double standards women face. Women are grouped together, yet pitted against each other for no reason.
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Equally riveting and heart wrenching, The Thing Around Your Neck features 12 stories set in both Nigeria and America. Each tale hits you with raw emotion. These characters truly face unspeakable horrors such as brutality, abuse and isolation. Adichie vividly writes about the immigrant experience. She writes these stories while baring her soul for all to witness.
Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19 Edited by Jennifer Haupt
Alone Together describes America struggling through a very difficult time. Through the eyes of poets and educators, we learn how the pandemic effects different parts of the country. For example, a professor shares her mission to deliver to food to students sheltering in place. Additionally, we read heartbreaking accounts of virtual funerals and weddings. Alone Together certainly brings a community perspective into focus.
Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? Stories by Kathleen Collins
Love should conquer all, yet discrimination has other plans! Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? shows the intolerant side of humanity. Indeed, the characters in these 16 stories want devotion, yet the roads taken are very arduous.
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Family and community is strong with Interpreter of Maladies. Jhumpa Lahiri expertly pens the human experience, as her characters live the Benghali and American ways of life. Each story captures conflict and love while navigating what it means to live harmoniously.
Night Shift by Stephen King
Night Shift is truly memorable. Although I read this in high school decades ago, it still left a lasting impression. From a self-help group trained to torture, to nightmarish visions of past acquaintances, this collection has many jump scares. These stories left me looking over my shoulder.
The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Yellow Wallpaper is a memorable compilation. I recall reading this book for my Women’s Studies courses. They all pulled at my emotions. For example, one woman is trapped by her husband for the sake of protection. Another tale illustrates a matriarch at the mercy of her selfish descendants. Indeed, The Yellow Wallpaper displays women in complex situations.
More Short Story Resources
Short Story Examples in (Almost) Every Genre gives you a sample of tales in a variety of tastes. How Do I Incorporate Short Stories Back Into My Reading Life? offers advice on diving into quick reads!