Quick Summer Reads: New and Notable Short Story Collections

Do you want to pick up a good book to read but just don’t have the mental energy for something the length of a novel? Here are some new and notable short story collections that can offer quick yet excellent reads for short attention spans and brief reading interludes, whether at the beach or under a cool shade.  All are available to borrow with your Livingston Public Library card.

The Adventurists : Stories by Richard Butner

Butner’s short stories are strange little vignettes of people’s lives, tales of the ways time and memory—both what we remember and what we don’t—affect the stories we tell about ourselves and the world around us.

Animal Person : Stories by Alexander MacLeod

MacLeod’s engrossing short story collection follows characters navigating the transient shallows of their lives. Relationships strain, connections to others shift, and inner desires and resentments are exposed.

Being Here : Stories by Manini Nayar

With eloquent, lush language,  Nayar brings to the forefront immigrant women making their way in the world as mothers, wives, as outliers, and as rebels. She writes about their insistence on autonomy and on the absurdity and triumphs of their struggles. 

Blank Pages : And Other Stories by Bernard MacLaverty

A collection of twelve powerful and moving new stories from one of Ireland’s most celebrated writers. Tinged with melancholy but rooted in resiliency, the exquisite stories probes MacLaverty’s signature themes-domestic love, Catholicism, the Troubles, aging-with compassion and insight.

A Calm & Normal Heart : Stories by Chelsea T. Hicks

Hicks, an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation, debuts with a short-story collection that fearlessly both embraces and upends Native American tradition and storytelling. Young women take center stage as they navigate sex, love, and general life transitions in lands, from Oklahoma to California, that are theirs and not, where they belong and don’t.

A Down Home Meal For These Difficult Times : Stories by Meron Hadero

Set across the U.S. and abroad, Hadero’s stories feature immigrants, refugees, and those on the brink of dispossession, all struggling to begin again, all fighting to belong. Moving through diverse geographies and styles, this captivating collection follows characters on the journey toward home, which they dream of, create and redefine, lose and find and make their own. Beyond migration, these stories examine themes of race, gender, class, friendship and betrayal, the despair of loss and the enduring resilience of hope.

Extenuating Circumstances : Stories Of Crime And Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates

Two hitmen in a depressed rust belt town struggle with a job gone wrong. A girl witnesses a horrifying accident and carries it with her for the rest of her life. Medical students bring a severed foot to a college party. Five-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Oates has made a career of exploring the forbidden corners of human experience, and the stories collected here, spanning her first three decades as a writer, are among her most unsettling and unforgettable works to date.

Family Album : Stories by Gabriela Aleman

In this collection of eight hugely entertaining short stories, Ecuadorian author Aleman teases tropes of hardboiled detective fiction, satire, and adventure narratives to recast the discussion of national identity. A muddy brew of pop-culture and pop-folklore yields intriguing, lesser-known episodes of contemporary Ecuadorian history, along with a rich cast of unforgettable characters whose intimate stories open up onto a vista of Ecuador’s place on the world stage.

Ghost Lover : Stories by Lisa Taddeo

In these nine riveting stories–which include two Pushcart Prize winners and a finalist for the National Magazine Award– Taddeo brings to life the fever of obsession, the blindness of love, and the mania of grief. 

Gods Of Want : Stories by K-Ming Chang

Relationships between women—familial, beloved, strange, imagined—dominate queer Taiwanese American Chang’s explosive and bizarre first story collection. Three single-word, deftly exacting descriptors define three sections—”Mothers,” “Myths,” “Moths”—which organize 16 tales that challenge immigration and diasporic identity, confront inequity and dysfunction.

Heartbroke : Stories by Chelsea Bieker

Bieker flexes a gift for the short form in her searing first collection. Each story draws readers in, moving them to love Bieker’s crusty characters before ending just in time to satisfy. Every engrossing piece takes place, as the stellar Godshot did, in California’s rural Central Valley. The disenfranchised, impoverished, exploited, and manipulative characters are raisin farmers, sex workers, miners, mothers, addicts, and cowboys.

Hoaxes And Other Stories by Brian DiNuzzo

The characters populating DiNuzzo’s short stories may be eccentrics, but at their core they are struggling to get through life, dealing with unmanageable bosses and tedious jobs, and trying to maintain their interpersonal and romantic relationships. They are willing to improve their circumstances, but willing (or forced) to accept much less.

Homesickness : Stories by Colin Barrett

Don’t expect spectacle from these eight superb short stories, set, with one exception, in Ireland, for they’re quiet examinations of mundane lives that are made extraordinary by the author’s remarkable talent for creating unforgettable characters. The stories have another thing in common: abrupt endings that seem to come within a hair of resolution before leaving it to the imaginations of readers to supply their own.

Interesting Women : Stories by Andrea Lee

In vivid prose infused with wicked irony, award-winning author Lee takes us on a dazzling international journey into the hearts and minds of a number of extraordinary women–intelligent, cosmopolitan, and fiercely independent–who, with wit and style, grapple with questions of identity in an increasingly connected world where everyone has become, in some way, a foreigner.

Jane Of Hearts : And Other Stories by Katharine Weber

At the heart of every story in this collection, desire, events, and identity intersect and often collide for Weber’s…characters. Children go door to door selling poison mushrooms. An elderly New Yorker on the brink of losing her freedom bolts for one last dignified adventure. In the title novella, lonely children roaming their Connecticut neighborhood discover a forgotten bomb shelter, which they make their secret headquarters.

Lesser Known Monsters Of The 21st Century : Stories by Kim Fu

In these twelve unforgettable tales the strange is made familiar and the familiar strange, such that a girl growing wings on her legs feels like an ordinary rite of passage, while a bug-infested house becomes an impossible, Kafkaesque nightmare. Each story builds a new world all its own: a group of children steal a haunted doll; a runaway bride encounters a sea monster; a vendor sells toy boxes that seemingly control the passage of time; an insomniac is seduced by the Sandman.

Life Ceremony : Stories by Sayaka Murata

In these twelve stories, Murata mixes an unusual cocktail of humor and horror to portray both the loners and outcasts as well as turning the norms and traditions of society on their head to better question them. Whether the stories take place in modern-day Japan, the future, or an alternate reality is left to the reader’s interpretation, as the characters often seem strange in their normality in a frighteningly abnormal world. 

Life Without Children : Stories by Roddy Doyle

Children and family. Death and grief. Life touches everyone the same. But living under lockdown, it changes us alone. In these ten beautifully moving short stories written mostly over the last year, Booker Prize winner Roddy Doyle paints a collective portrait of our strange times. 

The Man Who Sold Air In The Holy Land : Stories by  Omer Friedlander

The poignant, whimsically imaginative stories in Friedlander’s debut transport readers to the narrow limestone alleyways of Jerusalem, the desolate beauty of the Negev Desert, and the sprawling orange groves of Jaffa. Across the sharply drawn borders that divide them, Friedlander’s characters, often outsiders or even outcasts, are haunted by the past, or by the promise of a future that they can see but often cannot reach.

The Memory Librarian : And Other Stories Of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe

“Whoever controls our memories controls the future.”  This volume serves readers tales grounded in the human trials of identity expression, technology, and love, but also reaching through to the worlds of memory and time within, and the stakes and power that exists there.

Out There : Stories by Kate Folk

Full of indelible characters and darkly comic twists, the stories in Folk’s debut collection are perfectly pitched for the madness of our modern moment.  They explore what it means to face the void, human beings try to find their way in bizarre and dystopic settings, whether their own body, their relationships, their home, or the world at large.

Self-Portrait With Ghost : Short Stories by Meng Jin

From the acclaimed author of Little Gods, comes an immersive and electrifying story collection that explores self-construction, female resilience, and migrations both literal and transformative.

Shadowselves : Stories by Jason Ockert

Speculative and darkly surreal, the stories by Ockert  examine characters who have stepped dangerously close to an edge they cannot see.  With a sometimes-tenuous grip on reality, and often haunted by mistakes, repressions, and alternate versions of who they might have been, the characters in Shadowselves struggle to find meaningful human connections in a world where the most important things always seem just out of their reach.

Total : Stories by Rebecca Miller

From Dublin to Martha’s Vineyard, from the anxious comforts of motherhood to a technologically infected near future that mirrors today with dark prescience, each of the seven stories in Total is a world of its own, painted with vivid strokes, whose people and questions stay with the reader long after the story has ended.

The Way Spring Arrives And Other Stories edited by Yu Chen and Regina Kanyu Wang

From an award-winning team of authors, editors, and translators comes a groundbreaking short story collection that explores the expanse of Chinese science fiction and fantasy. Time travel to a winter’s day on the West Lake, explore the very boundaries of death itself, and meet old gods and new heroes in this stunning new collection.

-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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