And sometimes, like last Saturday while cleaning house, I remember how much I love short stories. I found a copy of Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness languishing in a pile of clutter. I received this book as a birthday gift from a dear friend and I had been meaning to read it for months. I picked it up, sat down, and decided to read just one story before getting back to dusting and tidying.
That’s the brilliant thing about short story collections. You can use them as a way to procrastinate your chores. You can meander through them slowly as palette cleansers between other books. Or you can read them straight through, cover to cover, like you would a novel. Like the dearest of friends, short story collections can be accommodating, forgiving, eclectic and inviting.
My favorite short story collections, like my favorite novels, often explore the daily lives of girls and women or the intricacies of family dynamics. Alice Munro always satisfies in that regard. Here are a few of my other recent favorite story collections.
- Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Nine stories about Bengali-Americans, a lovely follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize winning collection Interpreter of Maladies.
- How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
Nine stories about girls coping with loss and coming of age.
- Where the God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom
Twelve stories, including two sets of linked stories, exploring love in a variety of forms.
For more short story ideas in other genres, check out Richard’s musings on the topic.