I’ve never been one to read a lot of short stories, as I’ve always just preferred novels. I like how novels can go more in depth into characters, and how they have much more time for layered and complex plots. However, I have had my experience of some great books of short stories that I’ve really enjoyed and have stuck with me. Perhaps you are in a similar boat to me, or you already like short stories and would like some recommendations, or maybe you’re a bit of both. Without further ado, and in no particular order…
Picnic in the Storm by Yukiko Motoya
Motoya’s short stories are surreal and eerie, yet alluring and intriguing in their aberration. In these eleven short stories, you meet a husband made of straw, a mystery customer in a clothes shop who will not leave the fitting room, and a spouse whose features slide around their face. Motoya’s stories are set in a reality that feels familiar, but everything is just slightly off. Accept the bizarre and enjoy the hints of metaphor.
I’d recommend this to fans of Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata.
The Gospel According to Blindboy by Blindboy Boatclub
This book was mentally the wildest literary journey I’ve ever been on. My brain processed situations I never thought I’d have to process. You cannot predict what will happen in any one of these fifteen short stories (or should I say ‘gospels’). Some stories have depth at the beginning, and illustrate a very human point or situation, before taking a sharp turn and going absolutely bonkers. Other stories begin hysterically and take an unexpected twist into making a very topical and intelligent point. And a lot do neither or both. A wacky balance of mad and profound.
We Don’t Know What We’re Doing by Thomas Morris
I find that with books of short stories you don’t tend to remember a lot of the stories, but a few will stay with you. This is not the case with We Don’t Know What We’re Doing. I read it at a time where I was very busy and had limited time for reading each day. I read one story each night, and spent the next day thinking about what I’d just read the night before. Perfect for when you don’t have much time to read, but still want something thought-provoking for your brain to munch on.
The Girl Who Married a Lion by Alexander McCall Smith
I got this book for my seventh or eighth birthday and have reread it multiple times since. McCall Smith’s storytelling can be enjoyed at any age. This collection of stories from Zimbabwe and Botswana was my first time reading African folklore, and a perfect introduction to it. The moral truths of these tales have stuck with me since childhood. Why would a girl marry a lion? Maybe you’d like to find out.