16 in ’16: Read Short Stories

By Stacey



What is a short story? Simple version–a work of fiction that is shorter than a novel. A story that can be read in one sitting.

Yet, a short story can be so much more. Marilyn Singer, author of over 90 children, young adult and poetry books eloquently elucidates:

A short story is, in some ways, like a photograph- a captured moment of time that is crystalline, though sometimes mysterious, arresting, though perhaps delicate. But while a photo may or may not suggest consequences, a short story always does. In the story’s moment of time something important, something irrevocable has occurred. The change may be subtle or obvious, but it is definite and definitive.

In addition, while it is the audience that supplies the back story for a photo, it is the writer who must give the audience a beginning, middle, and end of a short story. Without that structure, the piece is not a short story at all but a scene, a vignette, a fragment-evocative, yes, but not emotionally or psychologically satisfying.

Neil Gaiman has a briefer more succinct answer.

Short stories are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back for dinner.

Often our first introduction to short stories is in English class. Frankly, when I think of short stories the first word that comes to mind is disturbing. The Monkey’s Paw, The Lottery, The Tell Tale Heart. But there are so many more choices extending from the romantic to the theoretical. Take our quiz below to find out what short story collection best fits your style.

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Do you have a favorite short story and/or collection? Maybe even a story you were forced to read in school, but on later reflection you realized this is a brilliant story.

Below are some suggestions ranging from classics, award winners, novel-in-stories and recently published.

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6 responses to “16 in ’16: Read Short Stories”

  1. Ruth G. says:

    I *love* the stories in Jess Walter’s collection, We Live in Water. That book is un-put-down-able! Compulsively readable! So well written, and so moving.

  2. Stacey says:

    Thank you for pointing out Jess Walter has a short story collection. The novel “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter is one of my favorite reads.

  3. Lindsey says:

    I definitely plan to read Ken Liu’s collection once I chisel away at the books I’m currently reading. I’ve heard great things about it! I loved the quiz, Stacey! I’m not at all surprised I ended up with fantasy suggestions.

  4. Stacey McKinley says:

    The Paper Menagerie is on my list as well. I have to read the first work of fiction to win all three of SF’s major awards: the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award.

  5. […] a collection of short stories (Nov. 7 – Nov. […]

  6. […] our 16 in ’16: Read a short story challenge, I got my hands on the new anthology Shadowed Souls edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. […]

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