Bookish Discussions

Short Stories: A snapshop of literature I always have time for.

snapshot of literature

Short on time but love to read? SHORT STORIES!!

I have to admit, I am one of the few in my circle of reading friends who enjoy short stories. Yes they are short. You don’t get that feeling of great accomplishment like when you read a chunkster nearing 500 pages. Yes, you might get invested in the plot line and the characters and then it ends. Not many neat and tidy endings unfortunately. Yes, at times they read more as poetry or in some case use fantasy (like in Stone Mattress and A Different Bed Every Time) and leave you feeling confused and inept as a reader. Sometimes they have titles like Women in Bed and you recommend them to a book group and the book group thinks they will be reading something entirely different and wonder what the heck you were thinking. (I enjoyed it by the way!)

All of the negatives against short stories are somewhat true. But I have been reading short stories since I could read. You all have too. Fairy Tales and Fables are in the short story family. It wasn’t until high school that I really got into them even more. I clearly remember reading “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Poe, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and “A Good Man is Hard To Find” by Flannery O’Connor and freaking out a bit. I loved them sooo much. In such a short amount of time, I was sucked in and left breathless at the end. The photo above has my very small collection of short stories but the top two I’ve held onto since my high school/college days. Stay tuned for my Tuesday post where I share my wish list for Christmas books and all the short stories I’d love to get from dear Old St. Nick.

So I still haven’t convinced you to give them a try? I’ve listed some great sites out there that offer FREE short stories to read. One site (American Literature) even has a “short story of the day”, which I’ve been enjoying quite a bit. These are the ones I like the most:

American Literature

Classic Short Stories

East of the Web

Right now I’m reading these collections and must say I am very impressed so far.

18209281[1] 20828358[1] 

That’s the beauty of short stories, you can read one and walk away to do something else. You can read another book at the same time and not get confused. They are like an episode of your favorite sitcom but without a reoccurring theme or characters. OK, they are a bit different, but you get the point. Heck, I’ve been working on the The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor for years and love coming back to it to find a new story to read. I don’t feel pressure to finish the book and can keep them on the nightstand and around the house and open one for a quick satisfying read. The best part to me is getting to sample an author’s writing range. Some collections can have similar themes and tone with stories linking to one another. Other collections read more as essays or vignettes dealing with whatever that author’s mind is creating on the page. I just love them and happy to be back discovering new short story writers.

Do you read short stories?

Which stories/authors are your favorite?

10 thoughts on “Short Stories: A snapshop of literature I always have time for.

  1. I don’t read a lot of short stories but absolutely loved Tenth of December thanks to Saunders snarky, irreverent wit. I also loved Richard Ford’s Let Me Be Frank With You which is a continuation of his Frank Bascombe novels. It’s more like vignettes in that it’s all connected and all about Bascombe. Beautifully written.

    • I’ve heard good things about Tenth of December. Will have to add that to my list, thanks! Let e Be Frank With You was recommended by a patron at the library who raved about his work until I actually reserved a copy. 🙂 She didn’t say I needed to read the others, do you think I will be confused without reading his other Bascombe stories?

      • You should be all right reading just this one. The others are full-length novels and are absolutely marvelous (Lay of the Land is one of my favorite books of all time). Let Me Be Frank is shorter and divided into the four ‘stories’ to kind of indicate the winding down of life. It’s humorous and bittersweet.

  2. I think this is the year I finally came around to short stories and it’s been so fun to finally nail down what works for me. Like Catherine said, I just recently read and loved Tenth of December and I’ve loved two of Simon Rich’s books, too. Hooray for celebrating the short!

    • Ok, it’s a definite! I’m adding Tenth of December to next week’s Santa wish list! 🙂 Which Simon Rich books did you enjoy? And what works for you as far as short stories? I hadn’t read much fantasy shorts until I read Stone Mattress this year and loved the collection so much. Or maybe it’s just her writing.

      • Simon Rich and George Saunders are pretty similar, and I think they’ve shown me that I really like satire, they also have a bit of that fantasy element like the stories in Stone Mattress. I liked Rich’s Last Girlfriend on Earth, but his new collection Spoiled Brats is the best.

    • Just read your post and it’s FANTASTIC!! Everything I wanted to say on mine but you did more thoroughly and much more eloquently. I especially liked points 4 & 5. I just have the most difficult time listening to audio books but no problem with audio shorts. Thanks for leading me there and now I am adding more collections to my list.

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