Last month I was taking a look at my to-be-read pile and realised… the majority of books on that pile were short story collections. This wasn’t my intention, but I seem to have been subconsciously drawn to these slender little paperbacks and I must say, I’m a big fan of this type of reading.
Is it me or the publishing industry that are currently going through a love affair with the short story collection? Perhaps it’s our busy lifestyles and limited attention span or that we’re finding ourselves with increasingly less leisure and that’s making short story collections so appealing, but either way I can’t get enough of them. And because of that, I wanted to share with you some of the fabulous short story collections that have been filling my bookshelves over the last year or so.
A Few Days in the Country by Elizabeth Harrower
I picked up Elizabeth Harrower’s collection of short stories, which spans 50 years of her writing, after it was shortlisted for the 2016 Stella Prize. I actually took it away with me when Sim and I had a weekend away at Leongatha and the cosy, country cabin we stayed in was the perfect setting to read Harrower’s collection. A Few Days in the Country contains 12 works of fiction, most of which feature a female lead character at various ages and stages of their lives.
Themes of country and identity and strong throughout this collection and Harrower’s writing is subtle, witty and striking. I loved how Harrower was able to create complex characters with real depth in just a few pages and I was engrossed by each and every story – not a common feeling with most short story collections!
Leaving Elvis by Michelle Michau-Crawford
I’ve written a full book review about Leaving Elvis which you can read here, but to give you a snapshot of this collection, Leaving Elvis is a collection of short chapters from the perspective of different characters within the same family. The whole collection spans roughly 50 years and it differs from the other short story collections because each story belongs to an over-arching narrative, it’s just that the voice of each chapter changes in form and language. It’s an incredible study in family history and I couldn’t put this book down!
Free Love and Other Stories by Ali Smith
Ali Smith works her literary genius as she explores the complexity of love in all of its forms in her collection of short stories, Free Love and Other Stories. This is a fabulous book for those of us who like to pick up a book every now and then and want something completely different from each short story.
Public Library by Ali Smith
A whole short story collection about libraries and books? Yes please! As soon as I heard Ali Smith had published a book of short stories all about why and how people connect with libraries and reading, I knew I would love it. Dispersed between each chapter are quotes and mini interviews with writers on what public libraries mean to them. If you’re into books and reading, and you love visiting your local library, pick up this beautifully written collection by Ali Smith, you won’t be disappointed!
I Call Myself a Feminist edited by Victoria Pepe, Rachel Holmes, Amy Annette, Alice Stride and Martha Mosse
These are the stories from 25 women under the age of thirty about what feminism means to them. I picked this up to participate in the Feminist Orchestra book club run by one of my favourite BookTuber’s Jeans Bookish Thoughts. I really enjoyed the diverse perspective of women’s experiences showcased in I Call Myself a Feminist, it’s one of those short story collections that you can dip into every now and then, and find inspiration and hope, while also learning a thing or two in every chapter.
Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman’s third collection of short fiction, Trigger Warning, delves into the shady underworld of life’s realities with experimental writing and fantastical storylines. Alongside each story, Gaiman shares the meaning behind his inspiration and writing process for the story. Gaiman guides you through his writing while also leaving a lot of interpretation up to the reader. Creative, kooky and captivating, Trigger Warning will entrance you from the first page.
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
I threw this one in the pile as something a little different! Through the Woods is a fantastic, dark and striking graphic novel with four distinct short stories. The illustrations are creepy, the stories are haunting and each story will simultaneously send shivers up your spine and drawn you in deeper and deeper.
If you’ve read any short story collections lately, I’d love to hear about it! Leave your suggestions in the comments below. Happy reading. x