Sampling Shorts for Short Story Month

by Denise D. 

Do you short story?

Imagine yourself perusing the new books shelves. A cover catches your eye. Perhaps it’s the color. Maybe it’s the art. Or an author you’ve been meaning to try. You reach out. Pick it up. And then you notice the finer print: Stories

What do you do? Murmur that you wish it had been a novel as you return it to the shelf? Or do you check it out?

For much of my life, I have said no to short stories. Whenever I heard about a tantalizing title, only to learn that it was a short story collection, I declined. Why? Oh, I had my reasons:

“I want to immerse myself in atmospheric settings.”

“I need more time to get into the characters.”

“I want to escape to another place.”

“I like to spend time in my books.”

“I’m not really a short story kind of reader.”

Short Story Month

Enter May. The month of lilacs, dogwoods, rhododendrons, Mother’s Day and Beer Week. While looking into other May events, I stumbled across its title as Short Story Month.

I sheepishly admit that I did not know May had this honor, but once informed, I had to learn why May was short story month:

Short stories make the perfect intro to a new author’s work, a great way for readers to get a top-up from their favorite authors between novels, a perfect impulse purchase on a phone or e-reader.

Short stories are exciting, moving and unexpected. They make you think. They are like little puzzles to be solved. Short stories can blow away the cobwebs of your thinking in a few short lines.

Short Story Marathon

Unexpected? Liable to “blow away the cobwebs” of my mind? Sign me up! Why not dedicate a weekend’s worth of reading to see if I was missing something? I checked out a pile of short story collections, lugged them to my reading chair, excused my novels for the weekend, and dove in.

My plan was simple. Pick up a book. Start to read. If I was engrossed, the collection went on my For Later shelf.  If not, I’d return the book on Monday.

By Sunday evening, my For Later shelf was full of short story collections and I was returning fewer books than I was keeping.

I do like short stories! I do! 

Why do I like these short stories? Because they are quick but fulfilling immersions into other lives and worlds. Short story writers are master craftspeople. They might fill fewer pages, but they do not sacrifice character or setting in the process. Instead, they mold their language so that all the power of a memorable story can be shared in one sitting. (Or one beer!)

How about you? Do you read short stories? What are some of your favorites?

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Comments

8 responses to “Sampling Shorts for Short Story Month”

  1. I do enjoy a round of short stories now and then, and just happen to be reading “The Machine Stops and Other Stories” by E.M. Forster right now. So timely for May! I’ll have to go back to my reading records and find some of my favorites to share in another comment later.

    • Denise D. says:

      Ooh! I just glanced at The Machine Stops and other Stories and it sounds intriguing. Are you a Forster fan or is this an entry point? He is one of the authors I might have read, but cannot remember for sure… and I was just thinking of him this week while reading the novel, Peculiar Ground, which is set on an English manor. I was wondering if Forster fans would like it (I’m loving it!), so I’ll have to check out his stories. Thanks for the suggestion! And Happy May!

      • This is my entry point for Forster! I really enjoy his style so far, and the stories are a bit on the weird side (no surprise that appeals to me). There’s something about reading pre-technology boom stories that’s a bit soothing as well. There’s a different pacing to the lives of the characters that I envy.

      • Denise D. says:

        Agreed!

  2. Brian says:

    I recently read Five-caret Soul, a book of short stories by James McBride and enjoyed.

    • Denise D. says:

      It sounds quite intriguing and gets much love on Bibliocommons. Definitely another collection to add to our suggestions. Thanks, Brian!

  3. Danielle Dreger says:

    My favorites are Lorrie Moore’s SELF Help and Helen Ellis’s AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE (also amazing on audio)

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