Not everyone is up to reading a full-length novel. Sometimes a short story will do. Many short stories are as famous and powerful as their larger counterparts. In fact, many of Stephen King’s more famous stories and movies were based upon short stories. Many novel authors write a collection of short stories that have stood the test of time! Don’t let the smaller size of short stories keep you from reading them. Usually shorter stories don’t have the luxury of building a plot, so they often pack a lot of punch in a short amount of time.
What Did These Short Story Books Do To Qualify For This List
Any time you are ranking the best of something the results are usually somewhat subjective but we have did our best to come up with a list the readers of the short story genre will truly like. To come up with this list we took into account:
- quantity and quality of user reviews
- sales data
- public perception
- opinions of readers of this genres
- commercial success
- and of course personal opinion
Take a look at the best Short Story Books you can read right now:
• Best Short Story Books
• Best Short Story Movies
• Best Short Story Books in Audio
Best Short Story Books
Here are the best Short Story books by the experts:
1)This Is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz
- Book Summary:On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In a New Jersey laundry room, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses.In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, these stories lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”
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2)Tenth of December, by George Saunders
- Book Summary:One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet.In the taut opener, “Victory Lap,” a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is faced with a harrowing choice: Does he ignore what he sees, or override years of smothering advice from his parents and act? In “Home,” a combat-damaged soldier moves back in with his mother and struggles to reconcile the world he left with the one to which he has returned. And in the title story, a stunning meditation on imagination, memory, and loss, a middle-aged cancer patient walks into the woods to commit suicide, only to encounter a troubled young boy who, over the course of a fateful morning, gives the dying man a final chance to recall who he really is. A hapless, deluded owner of an antiques store; two mothers struggling to do the right thing; a teenage girl whose idealism is challenged by a brutal brush with reality; a man tormented by a series of pharmaceutical experiments that force him to lust, to love, to kill—the unforgettable characters that populate the pages of Tenth of December are vividly and lovingly infused with Saunders’s signature blend of exuberant prose, deep humanity, and stylistic innovation.Writing brilliantly and profoundly about class, sex, love, loss, work, despair, and war, Saunders cuts to the core of the contemporary experience. These stories take on the big questions and explore the fault lines of our own morality, delving into the questions of what makes us good and what makes us human.Unsettling, insightful, and hilarious, the stories in Tenth of December—through their manic energy, their focus on what is redeemable in human beings, and their generosity of spirit—not only entertain and delight; they fulfill Chekhov’s dictum that art should “prepare us for tenderness.”
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3)Redeployment by Phil Klay
- Book Summary:Phil Klay’s Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos.In “Redeployment”, a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people “who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died.” In “After Action Report”, a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn’t commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Morturary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains—of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic “Money as a Weapons System”, a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball. These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier’s daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier’s homecoming.Redeployment is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss. Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation.
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4)The Beautiful Indifference, by Sarah J. E. Hall
- Book Summary:Sarah Hall has been hailed as “one of the most significant and exciting of Britain’s young novelists” (The Guardian). Now, in this collection of short fiction published in England to phenomenal praise, she has created a work at once provocative and mesmerizing.
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5)The Stone Thrower, by Adam Marek
- Book Summary:A bold voice in absurdist short fiction Intelligent clothing, superhero dictators, contagion-carrying computer games, cross-species reproduction. Welcome to the strange and startling world of Adam Marek; a menagerie of futuristic technology, sinister traditions, and scientifically grounded superpowers — a place where the absurd and the mundane are not merely bedfellows, but interbreed. At the core of Adam Marek’s much-anticipated second short story collection is a single, unifying theme: a parent’s instinct to protect a particularly vulnerable child. Whether set amid unnerving visions of the near-future or grounded in the domestic here-and-now, these stories demonstrate that, sometimes, only outright surrealism can do justice to the merciless strangeness of reality, that only the fantastically illogical can steel us against what ordinary life threatens. Bonus BackLit materials will include an interview and a list of Marek’s recommended books.
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6)Leaving the Sea, by Ben Marcus
- Book Summary:By turns hilarious and heartfelt, dark and illuminative, Ben Marcus’s Leaving the Sea is a ground breaking collection of stories from one of the single most vital, extraordinary, and unique writers of his generation.In the heartfelt “I Can Say Many Nice Things,” a washed-up writer toying with infidelity leads a creative writing workshop on board a cruise ship. In the dystopian “Rollingwood,” a divorced father struggles to take care of his ill infant, as his ex-wife and colleagues try to render him irrelevant. In “Watching Mysteries with My Mother,” a son meditates on his mother’s mortality, hoping to stave off her death for as long as he sits by her side. And in the title story, told in a single breathtaking sentence, we watch as the narrator’s marriage and his sanity unravel, drawing him to the brink of suicide. Surreal and tender, terrifying and life-affirming, Leaving the Sea is the work of an utterly unique writer at the height of his powers.
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7)We Live in Water, by Jess Walter/span>
- Book Summary:Stories in We Live in Water range from comic tales of love to social satire and suspenseful crime fiction. Traveling from hip Portland to once-hip Seattle to never-hip Spokane, to a condemned casino in Las Vegas and a bottomless lake in the dark woods of Idaho, this is a world of lost fathers and redemptive con men, of personal struggles and diminished dreams.In title story “We Live in Water”, a lawyer returns to his corrupt hometown to find his father, who disappeared 30 years earlier. In “Thief,” a blue-collar worker turns unlikely detective to find out which of his kids is stealing from the family fund.“Anything Helps” sees a homeless man try to raise money to buy his son the new Harry Potter book; and in “Virgo,” a newspaper editor attempts to get back at his superstitious ex-girlfriend by screwing with her horoscope.Also included are “Don’t Eat Cat” and “Statistical Abstract of My Hometown, Spokane, Washington,” both of which achieved cult status after their first publication online.
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8)Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro
- Book Summary:In the her tenth collection (the title story of which is the basis for the new film Hateship Loveship), Alice Munro achieves new heights, creating narratives that loop and swerve like memory, and conjuring up characters as thorny and contradictory as people we know ourselves.
A tough-minded housekeeper jettisons the habits of a lifetime because of a teenager’s practical joke. A college student visiting her brassy, unconventional aunt stumbles on an astonishing secret and its meaning in her own life. An incorrigible philanderer responds with unexpected grace to his wife’s nursing-home romance. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage is Munro at her best, tirelessly observant, serenely free of illusion, deeply and gloriously humane.
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9)The Whole Story and Other Stories, by Ali Smith
- Book Summary:What happens when you run into Death in a busy train station? (You know he’s Death because when he smiles, your cell phone goes dead.) What if your lover falls in love with a tree? Should you be jealous? From the woman pursued by a band of bagpipers in full regalia to the artist who’s built a seven-foot boat out of secondhand copies of The Great Gatsby, Smith’s characters are offbeat, charming, sexy, and as wonderfully complex as life itself.
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10)Not the End of the World, by Kate Atkinson
- Book Summary:Arthur is a precocious eight-year-old boy whose mother is a B-list celebrity more concerned with her bank account than with her son’s development. Then an enigmatic young nanny introduces him to a world he never knew existed.
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Best Short Story Movies
If you enjoyed the best short story books, why stop there? Take a look at our list of best short story movies and witness these marvelous films from the big screen.
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeremy Blackman, and Tom Cruise
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Movie Summary:An intriguing and entertaining study in characters going through varying levels of crisis and introspection. This psychological drama leads you in several different directions.
A complex, intricately crafted character drama of monumental proportions. Featuring truly an ensemble cast, Magnolia never focuses too little or too much on any single character. Instead, it focuses on similarities, differences, and a great deal of parallels between characters and their lives. It explores symbolism and metaphor in the way only a Paul Thomas Anderson film can. If you are a fan of his work, don’t let the run time dissuade you. The writing, direction, editing and cinematography draws you into this chaotic drama as few films do.
Everyone, and I mean everyone unravels in this character study of people in pain. Loathing, regret, shame, fear, loneliness and crushing dread touches all the characters as their lives intertwine against a backdrop of a game show wraparound story. A huge cast of stars that keeps surprising with each new face. If one is looking for creativity beyond studio controlled script-by-committee popcorn films, this takes a chance and rewards those that appreciate raw, off beat characters and storylines. Masterful.
Starring: Linda Hunt, Brendan Fraser, and Elisabeth Shue
Directed by: Keva Rosenfeld
This multi-character comedy follows the path of a single twenty dollar bill in a city neighborhood,focusing on various holders and their intertwining stories, including two convenience store robbers, an estranged father and daughter and a young newlywed couple. Featuring performances by Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd, Linda Hunt and Spalding Gray.
A day in the life of a 20 dollar bill. Interesting characters and story lines. I like movies that are quirky and different, and this one definitely is that.
3)Glenn Gould: Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould
Starring: Colm Feore
Directed by: François Girard
Director Francois Girard explores the life of legendary pianist Glenn Gould in 32 vignettes – each a variation on a theme of the Gould phenomenon, resulting in a biographical mosaic of a film deftly capturing the artist’s uniquely personal journey.
If you are a true pianist, all the way to the heart, then I believe you will find this collection of shorts to be fascinating. The production is very original, artful, playful, original, and I feel like I have had a chance to meet Glenn Gould. Don’t know who Glenn Gould is? Love piano music? Intrigued by amazing performers? I purchased this the second it came back to Prime Video. For me, it is a treasure.
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Benicio Del Toro, Jacob Vargas
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Movie Summary:Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Quaid and Catherine Zeta-Jones star in this powerful epic drama about the high-stakes, high-risk world of the drug trade.
I have always loved this film, which so urgently portrays the toll of drug traffic on all parties – small users, serious addicts, growers in poor countries, corrupt law enforcement and so forth. Benicio del Toro embodied all the paradoxes and tragic observances of the human being on the ground right in the middle. Exciting, terrifying, dramatic – the film moves you along fast paced simultaneous narratives.
Starring: Andie MacDowell , Robert Downey Jr. , and Tim Robbins
Directed by: Robert Altman
Movie Summary:The work of two great American artists merge in Short Cuts, maverick director Robert Altman’s kaleidoscopic adaptation of the stories of renowned author Raymond Carver. Epic in scale yet meticulously observed, the film interweaves the stories of twenty-two characters struggling to find solace and meaning in contemporary Los Angeles. The extraordinary ensemble cast includes Tim Robbins, Julianne Moore, Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Lemmon, and Jennifer Jason Leigh all giving fearless performances in one of Altman’s most compassionate creations.
I haven’t read much by Raymond Carver, but I think this movie succeeds on its own terms. It’s beautifully shot–especially the helicopter/crop duster scenes at the beginning–and it has a stellar cast giving their best for director Robert Altman.
Best Short Story Audio Books
Now that you’ve seen our list of the best short story books and movies, I’m sure you’ll be interested in trying out more of the best short story books in audio!
1)The Complete Stories, by Muriel Sparks
Book Summary:From the cruel irony of A Member of the Family to the fateful echoes of The Go-Away Bird and the unexpectedly sinister The Girl I Left Behind Me, in settings that range from South Africa to the Portobello Road, Muriel Spark coolly probes the idiosyncrasies that lurk beneath the veneer of human respectability, displaying the acerbic wit and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her unique talent.
The Complete Short Stories is a collection to be loved and cherished, from one of the finest short-story writers of the twentieth century, rediscover it on the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth with outstanding performances by Emilia Fox, Richard E. Grant and Juliet Stevenson.
2)Selected Shorts: New American Stories, by Sherman Alexie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Aleksander Hemon
Book Summary:New American Stories presents diverse stories of contemporary American life and dreams lost and found, by four of the best young contemporary writers – Jhumpa Lahiri, Sherman Alexie, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Aleksandar Hemon – as performed by terrific stage and screen actors. All four writers have a unique perspective on the American experience, which is reflected in their work. Whether they are immigrants from another country, or in the case of Sherman Alexie, a Native American, they’re all writing from a voice that comes from being an outsider. They also share well-deserved, universal praise for their work.
This is one of my all-time favorite Selected Shorts. I listened to every story twice. Particularly loved the reading of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Hell-Heaven. I had already read the story, years ago, but this reading brought so much richness and deepened my appreciation of Lahiri, who is a word goddess in my book. Sat in the driveway to hear the rest of Breaking and Entering.
I enjoyed these, but the 4 stories went by quickly.
3)Hall of Small Mammals by Thomas Pierce
Book Summary:A wild, inventive ride of a short story collection from a distinctive new American storyteller.
The stories in Thomas Pierce’s Hall of Small Mammals take place at the confluence of the commonplace and the cosmic, the intimate and the infinite. A fossil-hunter, a comedian, a hot- air balloon pilot, parents and children, believers and nonbelievers, the people in these stories are struggling to understand the absurdity and the magnitude of what it means to exist in a family, to exist in the world.
In “Shirley Temple Three,” a mother must shoulder her son’s burden-a cloned and resurrected wooly mammoth who wreaks havoc on her house, sanity, and faith. In “The Real Alan Gass,” a physicist in search of a mysterious particle called the “daisy” spends her days with her boyfriend, Walker, and her nights with the husband who only exists in the world of her dreams, Alan Gass. Like the daisy particle itself-“forever locked in a curious state of existence and nonexistence, sliding back and forth between the two”-the stories in Thomas Pierce’s Hall of Small Mammals are exquisite, mysterious, and inextricably connected.
From this enchanting primordial soup, Pierce’s voice emerges-a distinct and charming testament of the New South, melding contemporary concerns with their prehistoric roots to create a hilarious, deeply moving symphony of stories.
I didn’t know what to expect from this collection, but I certainly didn’t anticipate being drawn into each short story so completely. The writing is clean, bright, engaging, and unexpected. There were no jolts of poor editing, no totally wrong words. I can’t wait to read Pierce’s new novel and am exited to see where his writing career heads from here.
Gotta say, this is one of the best short story collections I’ve read in a long while. I hate for it to end.
4)The Iron Bridge: Short Stories of 20th Century Dictators as Teenagers by Anton Piatigorsky,
Book Summary:In a bold collection of stories, Dora Award-winning playwright Anton Piatigorsky delivers a superbly inspired inquiry into the early lives of the 20th century’s most notorious tyrants. In The Iron Bridge, he is unafraid to push at the boundaries of the unexpected as he breathes fictionalized life into the adolescents who would grow up to become the most brutal dictators the world has ever known.
We discover a teenaged Mao Tse-Tung refusing an arranged marriage; Idi Amin cooking for the British Army; Stalin living in a seminary; and a melodramatic young Adolf Hitler dreaming of vast architectural achievements. Piatigorsky explores moments that are nothing more than vague incidents in the biographies of these men, expanding mere footnotes into entire realities as he fills the gaps of the historical record. The Iron Bridge, completely imagined yet captivatingly real, captures those crucial instants in time that may well have helped to deliver some of the most infamous leaders in history.
A truly remarkable book of short fiction. I had wondered from the start how much influence one of my favorite short story writers, Robert Coover, may have had on the author, but Piatigorsky out-Coovers Coover. I can’t fathom anyone walking away unfulfilled – especially when one considers that fiction must challenge a reader with so much more than “likable” characterizations. Each story holds its own with intense and compelling prose, riveting dialogue and striking imagery, all leading the reader down that peculiar path of revulsion and fascination for the antagonist-protagonists. Piatigorsky is in a class all his own!
A wonderfully imaginative book, beautifully written. Anton Piatigorsky is a very talented playwright and novelist. He deserves much wider recognition.
5)Benedict Cumberbatch Reads Sherlock Holmes’ Rediscovered Railway Stories: Four Original Short Stories, by John Taylor
Book Summary:Benedict Cumberbatch reads these four new Sherlock Holmes stories by John Taylor: ‘An Inscrutable Masquerade’, ‘The Conundrum of Coach 13’, ‘The Trinity Vicarage Larceny’ and ‘The 10.59 Assassin’.
Inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes stories, John Taylor has written four more mysteries featuring the world’s greatest detective.
Read by acclaimed actor Benedict Cumberbatch, these new adventures share all the suspense of the original tales.
In a drawer in his bureau, Dr. Watson keeps a locked cedarwood chest – a ‘box of secrets’.
It contains an archive of notes referring to some of Holmes’ cases that, for one reason or another, never saw the light of day. Now, for the first time, Watson has decided to reveal the truth to the world….
In these four thrilling stories, Holmes experiments with the science of ballistics, locates some missing gold bullion, investigates the theft of a large amount of money and solves the baffling mystery of the Stovey murder.
Classic little bite size mysteries – seems unsolvable until it’s explained by Sherlock Holmes and then seems so obvious. Benedict Cumberbatch has the perfect rolling gravelly voice for it. Wish there were more stories included!
Love Everything Sherlock Holmes, everything Sir Arthur Conan Doyles…… really love Benedict Cumberbatch. something about his voice, Stephen Fry is amazing as well. Their just something about Cumberbatch tone of voice. I’d love to hear him do more.
What do you think about our list of best short story books? If you have another genre that you prefer to read we have probably compiled a list of our favorites for that genre too. So if you are looking for something other than the best short story books you can find other genres here.