If one of your resolutions for next year is to read more short stories (and it should be!), it can be hard to know where to start.
You want to cultivate a modern style, the kind of thing that reflects your voice AND the kind of stories people want to read.
The problem with a do-it-yourself reading masterclass, is that anthologies tend to contain a vast range of stories, chronologically arranged from the late 1800s to the mid 1960s. These stories have stood the test of time and are therefore considered classics, but their style can seem pretty dated.
On the other hand, you could grow old reading a random selection of the multitudinous modern short stories available online. So what’s a serious writer to do?
Let other people recommend stories to you.
I’ve trawled the end-of-year roundups and found a number of recommendations for your further reading. Most of these are stories from this century, with a few must-read classics sprinkled in here and there. Names that kept cropping up on list after list: B. J. Novak, Lorrie Moore, Lydia Davis, Elizabeth McCracken, Phil Klay, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro.
Treat yourself to a volume or two, or trot off down to your local library to look for some of these titles.
Powell’s Short List 2014
Powell’s audaciously posted a “best of” list in time for Short Story Month in May this year (N.B. Did we make May the month for short stories? I don’t remember anyone calling it that before we started this crazy thing in 2010. Pat yourselves on the backs, StoryADay-nauts! I think we created a Thing!)
NOT a list of the best short story collections this year, it is however a list of excellent short story collections from the century so far:
The Guardian’s Ill-Defined “Best” List
Not sure what the category here is — I suspect it’s the editors’ favorites list, rather than a true ‘best of’ — but I’m betting there are some collections (and authors) you might have missed in this British-based list.
Paris Review’s Prize Winning Stories of The Year
Two stories are in the Best American Short Story Anthology this year and nine were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Read some at the Paris Review site.
The Independent’s Best Stories of the Year
Another list from a British newspaper. Includes Hilary Mantel’s controversial “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher”, some Margaret Atwood and a collection by Tom Barbash, a fave of mine.
The Huffington Post’s 10 Best Short Stories You’ve Never Read
Take the HuffPo challenge. Have you read them? I felt quite smug when I discovered I had read the first one on their list…then I looked at the rest of them. Ahem…
Electric Literature’s Best Short Story Collections of 2014
25 recommended story collections from Donald Antrim to Lorrie Moore with some names that didn’t hit any other lists I saw.
Readers’ Digest 8 of the Best
RD recommended these eight collections in the spring (another shout out for May as Short Story Month!). Some familiar names on this one…
BookTrust Recommendations From Short Story Authors
BookTrust asked prize-winning writers to pick THEIR favorite collections. Seems sensible…
Also, check out BookTrust’s online library of short stories here:
Longreads Best of the Year
A subjective list of the best short stories of the year. As good a place as any to start 😉
The Quivering Pen Great Big Roundup
A fine list of short story collections from David Abrams. Compiled in June, it contains some interesting titles.
Hugo Award Nominees 2014
If all that up there is wa-ay too much literary fiction for you, how about taking a look at the Hugo Award nominees of the year for some speculative fiction-y goodness?
Stacked’s Young Adult Short Story Recommendations
Doesn’t it seem like YA would be a great category for short fiction? Well, Stacked has a list of some YA short story collections from the past few years.
Fantastic Stories of the Imagination’s Short Genre Fiction Recommendations for 2014
Finally! A collection that includes Speculative and horror short stories. Only four stories in this list, but they are different enough to be worth checking out.
More Genre Fiction from Jonathan Strahan
This list is way out of date, but worth looking at just because genre gets so little respect in the other lists. All titles are from the first decade of the 21st century. Good additional recommendations in the comments section.
Jason Sanford’s Sci-Fi Picks for 2014
An author and reader picks his best bets for next year’s awards lists.
Then of course, there is always the Best American Short Stories annual anthology, The Best British Short Stories 2014, and I highly recommend the Selected Shorts podcast as a way to have new and notable short stories read to you by great actors, wherever you are.
Side note: apparently Brits take the short story much more seriously than folks anywhere else in the English-speaking parts of the planet. Prizes, end-of-year round ups, they dominate them!
Lets all don fake-British accents (except for me, of course who still has a semi-authentic one) and cheer the patron saints of the short story: the good folk of the UK!
So, what short stories have you read this year that you’d recommend? Share in the comments!