Read Harder

Read Harder 2023 Task #21: Read a Book of Short Stories

Short stories are marvelous things because they’re so easily consumed in between busy days and schedules. I also love short story collections (by a single author) because they often showcase the range and breadth of a writer’s talent, and I think it’s fun to see how various short stories can weave together to create a cohesive whole. Some themes are more obvious while others may take a while to emerge, but no matter what I think, short story collections are fascinating because they’re more than just the sum of their parts. I love revisiting short stories when I’m in the mood for a comfort read but don’t feel like committing to a full book, and I’m constantly on the look out for great new short stories to add to my favorites list.

Short story collections are oftentimes not given as much attention as full novels, which is in part why we’ve chosen “read a book of short stories” as one of the challenges for this year’s Read Harder challenge. Whether you’re a YA reader, a lover of literary fiction, or a sci-fi and speculative fiction fan, this is a short round up of great short story collections that will help you dip your toes into the form…or maybe just offer an intriguing new option to your TBR! I’ve tried to showcase a mix of backlist and newer reads, but you can’t go wrong with any on this list!

The Office of Historical Corrections cover

Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

In this collection, Evans looks at history, race, and contemporary life. From a girl who tries to remake herself when a racist photo goes viral to a woman who puts her career and reputation at risk to solve a historical mystery, these stories force readers to reconsider what we’ve accepted as the “truth” about America’s founding.

cover image of Sabrina & Corina- Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Set in Colorado and starring Latina characters with Indigenous heritage, these stories are about the resilience and history. This collection was a National Book Award finalist, and it won the American Book Award.

Scattered Showers cover

Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell’s assorted short stories are collected in one book for the first time ever, plus this book contains some brand-new stories that have never been published. They run the range from stories that feature old and beloved characters to new characters and worlds, and many are winter or Christmas-themed!

You Think It I'll Say It cover

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

Curtis Sittenfeld’s short story collection looks at people, mostly millennial women, dealing with a whole slew of relatable yet unexpected situations. From social media to social justice, these stories look at upending expectations about gender, family, and class.

Exhalation by Ted Chiang

From the same person who dreamed up the story that inspired the movie Arrival, here is a collection of short speculative stories about the bounds of humanity and human technology, and our understanding of the universe.

Friday Black cover

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

In this satirical and sometimes surreal collection of short stories, the author explores what it means to be young and black in the U.S., addressing social issues such as consumerism, justice, and racism.

The Poison Eaters cover

The Poison Eaters by Holly Black

In Holly Black’s short story collection, strange and sinister events unfold, undercut with unexpected dark humor. This collection contains the short story that inspired The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and one of my personal favorite short stories, “Paper Cuts Scissors.”

cover of Night of the Living Rez: Stories by Morgan Talty; pastel letters over image of a star-filled night sky

Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty

This new collection of short stories is set in a Penobscot community in present-day Maine, revealing what life is like for contemporary citizens. These stories are about survival, memory, and dealing with the fallout of trauma, as well as perseverance.

Want more short story recommendations? Here are 20 more must-read short story collections!

Click here for the full Read Harder 2023 task list, and for previous recommendations, click here.