Why You Should Be Reading Short Stories (And Recommendations On Where To Start)

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In an effort to continually explore and read new literature, I’m going to try my best to read one short story every weekday for thirty days, or for as long as I decide. Maybe I’ll really enjoy the experiment and keep reading. Maybe I’ll get burnt out and cut back to only a few short stories per week. Regardless, I think this exercise is important.

Short stories are often seen as lesser than novels. Really, the average person pays very little attention to short story collections, even if they consider themselves a “bibliophile”. Now, this isn’t me berating you all for not reading short stories, because I am very bad about it myself. I will always catch my favorite author’s latest novel, but I don’t always make time to read their short stories. Why? I’m not exactly sure. I think there is the falsehood floating around that because short stories are, by their very nature, short, that they are somehow not as impressive as novels or not as important. That couldn’t be more true! A short story is like a bite size candy bar—it showcases the writer’s talent and individual writing style, but in a more palatable format that can be enjoyed, from start to finish, in thirty minutes.

So, for the next thirty days I will be reading short stories from several collections I own and from various places online. If you’d like to read along then you can follow me on Instagram (@Literberry) with the hashtag #SSLiterberry. I’ll do my best to post the night before what story I’ll be reading the next day in case anyone wants to read it along with me. I’d love to be able to have literary chats, so if you do read along, comment here, on my Instagram, or on my Facebook page and we can get a conversation going!

For anyone who wants to read more short stories, but doesn’t know where to start, here are five of my favorite short stories and five of my favorite short story collections (for anyone who is really ready to take the plunge!):

Short Stories:

1) “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver

2) “Axis” by Alice Munro

3) “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor

4) “The Cheater’s Guide to Love” by Junot Diaz

5) “Cathedrals” by Raymond Carver

Collections:

1) The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories edited by Tobias Wolff

2) The Best American Short Stories (2012) edited by Tom Perrotta and Heidi Pitlor

3) Dear Life by Alice Munro

4) 20 Under 40: Stories from The New Yorker edited by Deborah Treisman

5) This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

Happy Reading,

Mallory