Short stories do some heavy lifting: delivering a complete story arc with no room for meandering plot diversions or exhaustive character development. They are tailor-made for the limited attention span, and reflect the current trend toward concision in the age of Twitter and quick sound bites. Short story collections allow writers to experiment and explore a theme without being tethered to a longer format. Easy to digest and pop into, short stories are a perfect “snack” for those occasions when you don’t have the time or inclination for a protracted reading “meal.”

For this month’s blog, I am recommending some great story collections by some contemporary authors. Some of those the titles listed below serve as a departure from a writer’s typical fare or offer a appetizer version of their specialty.

Old Babes in the WoodOld Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood "A dazzling collection of short stories from the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments, stories that look deeply into the heart of family relationships, marriage, loss and memory, and what it means to spend a life together."
Tiny LoveTiny Love: The Complete Stories by Larry Brown

"A career-spanning collection, Tiny Love brings together for the first time the stories of Larry Brown’s previous collections along with those never before gathered. This is the whole of Larry Brown, the arc laid bare, both an amazing story collection and the fullest portrait we’ll see of one of the South’s most singular artists."

The Faraway WorldThe Faraway World by Patricia Engel

"From Patricia Engel, whose novel Infinite Country was a New York Times bestseller and a Reese’s Book Club pick, comes a “rich and compelling” (The Washington Post) collection of ten exquisite, award-winning short stories set across the Americas and linked by themes of migration, sacrifice, and moral compromise."

RealityReality by John Lanchester

"Ghost stories for the digital age by the Booker Prize–longlisted author of The Wall. A book of disquiet that captures the severe disconnection and distraction of our time."

Bliss MontageBliss Montage by Ling Ma

"In Bliss Montage, Ling Ma brings us eight wildly different tales of people making their way through the madness and reality of our collective delusions: love and loneliness, connection and possession, friendship, motherhood, the idea of home."

Learning to TalkLearning to Talk by Hilary Mantel

"In the wake of Hilary Mantel’s brilliant conclusion to her award-winning Wolf Hall trilogy, Learning to Talk is a collection of loosely autobiographical stories that locates the transforming moments of a haunted childhood."

The Souvenir MuseumThe Souvenir Museum by Elizabeth McCracken

"Award-winning author Elizabeth McCracken is an undisputed virtuoso of the short story, and this new collection features her most vibrant and heartrending work to date. McCracken traces how our closely held desires—for intimacy, atonement, comfort—bloom and wither against the indifferent passing of time."

The Memory LibrarianThe Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae

"The Memory Librarian serves readers tales grounded in the human trials of identity expression, technology, and love, but also reaching through to the worlds of memory and time within, and the stakes and power that exists there."

The Jealousy ManThe Jealousy Man by Jo Nesbo

"A veritable crime lover’s delight from a true master of mystery and suspense. Experience the #1 New York Times best-selling author as never before in this dark and thrilling short story collection that takes us on a journey of twisted minds and vengeful hearts."

Liberation DayLiberation Day by George Saunders

"...a masterful collection that explores ideas of power, ethics, and justice, and cuts to the very heart of what it means to live in community with our fellow humans. A collection of prismatic, deeply resonant stories that encompass joy and despair, oppression and revolution, bizarre fantasy and brutal reality."

Stories From the Tenants DownstairsStories From the Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana

"Set in a Harlem high rise, a stunning debut about a tight-knit cast of characters grappling with their own personal challenges while the forces of gentrification threaten to upend life as they know it."

Companion PieceCompanion Piece by Ali Smith

"A celebration of companionship in all its timeless and contemporary, legendary and unpindownable, spellbinding and shapeshifting forms..."

Night of the Living RezNight of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty

"Set in a Native community in Maine, Night of the Living Rez is a riveting debut collection about what it means to be Penobscot in the twenty-first century and what it means to live, to survive, and to persevere after tragedy. In a collection that examines the consequences and merits of unforgettable portrayal of a Native community."

Growing ThingsGrowing Things by Paul Tremblay

"A chilling anthology featuring nineteen pieces of short fiction from the multiple award-winning author of the national bestseller The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of GhostsFrom global catastrophe to the demons inside our heads, Tremblay illuminates our primal fears and darkest dreams in startlingly original fiction that leaves us unmoored."

Summaries sourced from publishers' marketing materials

Here are a few multi-contributor anthologies for genre fans looking to discover new authors with a wider selection of voices and styles:

The Best American Short Stories 2022 - Andrew Sean Greer and Heidi Pitlor (eds.)

When Things Get Dark: Stories Inspired by Shirley Jackson - Ellen Datlow (ed.)

Flash Fiction America: 73 Very Short Stories - John Dufresne, Sherrie Flick, James Thomas (eds.)

March's Featured Reviews

A House is a BodyA House is a Body by Shruti Swamy
Everyone in My Family Has Killed SomeoneEveryone in My Family Has Killed Someone Benjamin Stevenson

Hop on the Holds List

1. The Guest – Emma Cline

2. Central Park West: A Crime Novel – James Comey

3. (NF) The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece – Tom Hanks

4. Yellowface – R.F. Kuang

5. Homecoming – Kate Morton

Recent Readings

I have recently just finished reading Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson and Exiles by Jane Harper. These are by two of my favorite authors and were as fantastic as I expected! I also just finished listening The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica.

Right now, I am reading Don't Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones and Bliss Montage by Ling Ma (see above) . I am also currently enjoying the audiobook version of Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez.

Do you enjoy short stories? Do you use them as a break between longer reads? If you have any recommendations I would love to know: (

Until next time: Be safe, be well and be well-read!


So, who am I, anyway? I am a resident of West Groton, with a husband, 3 children in college (and one at GDRHS) and a Samoyed that keeps my vacuum well-employed. I am currently working part time at the Groton Public Library and in a former life I was a Director or PR/Marketing at a high-tech consulting firm. My BA is in Psychology, but most of my time was spent in college earning a Concentration on the Novel. That is all to say that I make no claims at being an expert of any kind and my thoughts, opinions and mistakes are solely my own. I am just a person whose passion for books has continued to grow from the moment I was first able to grip and gnaw on them. I have been devouring them ever since.

Mar 01, 2023 / Joelle M Egan