Beyond Bestsellers: Short Stories

by Kimberly P.

Welcome to another round of Beyond Bestsellers! This month we’ll be tackling short stories (Yes, I know short stories are more a “format” than a “genre” but bear with me.) Short stories are probably one of my favorite formats to read, especially with the weather starting to cool down. What’s better than sitting with a hot cup of coffee, huddled in a cozy sweater, and browsing a good short story collection while the leaves change color around me?

Ah, sweet bliss. 

So what makes a short story a . . . well, short story? In terms of format, word count. Short stories usually fall between 1,000 and 20,000 words, though at the 20,000-word mark, short stories are often deemed novellas.

In general, most short stories hover around 3,000 words to 5,000 words. But don’t let their low word count fool you. Short stories are just as diverse and dynamic as any novel.

I like to think of short stories as brief excursions into a different world where you’re visiting just long enough to get a feel for the place, but not long enough to overstay your welcome. It’s a great format to discover a new author, read while commuting or discover a previously unknown genre.

Which short story genre is calling your name? Take our quiz to find out. Or, if you’re ready to dive right in, browse my list of notable short stories.




Remember to check out our simultaneous-access title on Overdrive, too. This month there is no waiting for Homeland by Barbara Kingsolver! Also, keep those lists coming! Be sure to title them “Beyond Bestsellers: [insert your title] so that we can see them.


Happy reading!

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10 responses to “Beyond Bestsellers: Short Stories”

  1. ann gibson says:

    As you say, short stories are more a format than a genre, I use a book of short stories in a particular genre to find new authors.
    I will go to the library, find the mystery or fantasy section, pick a book of short stories, and as I read, make notes of authors I like and go back for books by those authors. It’s more difficult when I try to find audiobooks on line. I haven’t figured out how to find short story books, I usually just stumble on them, since it isn’t a genre but more of a format.
    I’d love some recommendations of short story books in my preferred genres. Also how to find them on line in audiobooks.

    • Kimberly P. says:

      Ann, one of the things I love to do is use an anthology to find a new author! We can always create a personalized reading list for you if you’re interested. But first! When creating my lists of short stories, this was the method I used to browse through short stories through the website:

      In the search bar, I typed in “Short Stories” and then “Search.” From there, on the left hand menu, I narrowed down what I was looking for. In your case, since you are looking for audiobooks–or maybe even downloadable audiobooks)–you could check both of those boxes under the “Format” tab.]

      From the “Content” heading, I chose “Fiction” just to make sure I had stories. Under “Audience” I chose Adult since that was what I was most interested in seeing. Right beneath “Content” is “Form/Genre” and from there I chose what genre I felt like seeing (maybe Mystery or Fantasy in your case?). It then gives you a list of what we have–and you can always adjust it for more or less items to peruse.

      Likewise, if you want, you can always drop into your local branch and get a staff member to show you how to navigate the website. We’re always happy to help. If you want a personalized reading list, let us know!

      • Kimberly P. says:

        I also wanted to add: you can contact us through the comment section, Ask Us, Tell Us, or in person for a personalized reading list, or any help using our catalog. We’re happy to help in whatever way is most convenient for you!

  2. Serena S says:

    Love the quiz, it’s so funny. My result was Romance Short Stories.

    • Kimberly P. says:

      I’m glad you liked it! I hope you’re able to find some romance short stories to your liking–and if you can’t, we’re always here to help with suggestions.

  3. ann gibson says:

    Just an update, already posted comment

  4. ann gibson says:

    Thanks Kimberly, I followed your steps and got pages and pages of books with short stories to chose from……..this should keep me off the streets and out of trouble for awhile!

    • Kimberly P. says:

      Ha! I’m so happy it worked out for you. When browsing, I think I added about 20 short story collections to my TBR list. *sigh*

  5. Lindsey A. says:

    Your quizzes are the best, Kim! I’d probably be charmed if someone wanted to borrow my hair for a spell. No voodoo dolls, though, please. I keep ending up with literary short stories, which makes me feel very intellectual.

    • Kimberly P. says:

      Thank you, Lindsey! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Interestingly enough, I thought I was a shoe in for horror or fantasy, but ended up with mystery/thriller…

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