Just because summer's come & gone doesn't mean you shouldn't give up on plans to luxuriate & dive into a good book.
Okay, so your schedule doesn't exactly allow for luxuriating, but as for slipping in some reading time - that's where short stories come in. "You don't have the time for leisure," remarks librarian and author Nancy Pearl about why well written short stories are so compelling from the opening sentence. "You have to draw readers in immediately." Short stories are perfect for overscheduled lives: commuting on the subway, standing in line at the bank, picking up the kids from practice, etc.. They're short enough that you can typically finish one in a single sitting, and not so long that by the time you've picked it up & put it down countless times, you can no longer even remember what it's about.
Here are Pearl's list of awesome short story collections, courtesy of National Public Radio (NPR.org). Your brain thanks you in advance.
Librarian & Author Nancy Pearl Recommends These Short Story Collections:
- Here's Your Hat What's Your Hurry by Elizabeth McCracken Pearl calls this collection a "wonderfully wacky" assortment of short tales about oddball individuals inhabiting neglected corners of the familiar. Pearl's favorite character? Aunt Helen Beck, a homeless eccentric who adopts families by pretending she's a long-lost relative...and filching a "keepsake" from each family to give as a housewarming gift to the next family she cons.
- A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia and Other Stories by Victor Pelevin translated by Andrew Bromfield A young slacker finds the hinterlands full of werewolves, and then he makes an interesting discovery. "These are the kind of stories you just delight in reading and re-reading, because it's just so fascinating to see where this guy can take you," remarks Pearl about Pelevin, a "fabulist" in the tradition of Kafka & Borges.
- After the Plague by T.C. Boyle Best known for novels like The Road to Wellville and The Inner Circel, his short stories contain opening and last lines that "are the kind that kind of reach in an twist your heart a little bit," says Pearl.
- Birds of America by Lorrie Moore 12 stories of people afflicted with an angst & aimlessness that's both engrossing and unnerving. "This is one of those collections where one would be hard pressed to find a bad story," explains Pearl. "Moore is one of those people whose every word is chosen carefully to move the story forward just a little bit -- so that as you're reding, you get caught up in the lives of her characters."
- All This Heavenly Glory by Elizabeth Crane A collection of interlinked stories charting the amusing, askew life of Charlotte Anne Byers. Says Pearl, "I was just totally blown away by the humor and grace, and ability...to bring her characters to life."
- The Lone Pilgrim by Laurie Colwin Most of the stories revolve around the dizzy glee of being young, and discovering the maddening and enriching complications of adult life.
- Samuel Johnson is Indignant by Lydia Davis Less a collection of stories & more a flurry of ideas in 56 chapers from an author discribed as part Gertrude Stein & part Simone Weil - but don't fret, some of the chapters are a mere paragraph long.
- Among the Missing by Dan Chaon Twelve vignettes about human relationships against emotional landscapes that are unsettling but beautiful.