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Shorter Reads

Want to read a story with all the depth, questions and quality of a novel, written by highly skilled writers in about 5% of the space? Short stories can be heartbreaking, mysterious and incredibly detailed; for a perfectly formed, bite-sized smorgasbord of stories, browse our Short Story recommendations here.

The Book of Life

The Book of Life

Author: Stuart Nadler Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/04/2012

In The Book of Life, as in life, moments of unsettling tension and grief sit alongside those of humour and happiness. There are huge betrayals one man sleeps with his best friend's daughter, one with his best friend's wife. There are uncompromisingly awkward situations between estranged brothers called upon to clear out the house of their recently deceased parents; between three generations of men who, despite the obvious family ties, have never stood together in the same room. There are tales of broken bonds and the struggle for redemption one man, unwillingly thrust into an open marriage, tries to readjust to his new life; two former lovers are desperate to rekindle the only relationship that ever mattered, but remain reluctant to admit their past offences. These compulsively readable stories mark Stuart Nadler as a fresh and perceptive new voice, a writer in the great American tradition, but one who emerges from the shadows of Updike, of Bellow, of Cheever and stakes his own bold and exciting claim.

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The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime

The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime

Author: Maxim Jakubowski Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/02/2012

The perfect book for any lover of Crime Fiction, featuring a captivating group of authors; from Alexander McCall Smith (of The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency Series), to Lee Child (Jack Reacher series) and adding a different energy, the occasional ace of a wild card. Edited by the renowned Maxim Jakubowski (keep your eyes peeled for his story), announces you are in safe hands and in for a real treat.  There’s a host of diverse dynamic short stories, you can choose to dip in and out or devour the entire book in one sitting. Each story packs a different punch; prepare for feints, look out for snares, expect to be walloped.

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This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You

This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You

Author: Jon McGregor Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/02/2012

A man builds a tree house by a river, in anticipation of the coming flood. A sugar-beet crashes through a young woman's windscreen. A boy sets fire to a barn. A pair of itinerant labourers sit by a lake, talking about shovels and sex, while fighter-planes fly low overhead and prepare for war. These aren't the sort of things you imagine happening to someone like you. But sometimes they do. Set in the flat and threatened fenland landscape, where the sky is dominant and the sea lurks just beyond the horizon, these delicate, dangerous, and sometimes deeply funny stories tell of things buried and unearthed, of familiar places made strange, and of lives where much is hidden, much is at risk, and tender moments are hard-won.

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Diving Belles

Diving Belles

Author: Lucy Wood Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/01/2012

Along Cornwall's ancient coast, the flotsam and jetsam of the past becomes caught in the cross-currents of the present and, from time to time, a certain kind of magic can float to the surface...Straying husbands lured into the sea can be fetched back, for a fee. Magpies whisper to lonely drivers late at night. Trees can make wishes come true - provided you know how to wish properly first. Houses creak, fill with water and keep a fretful watch on their inhabitants, straightening shower curtains and worrying about frayed carpets. A teenager's growing pains are sometimes even bigger than him. And, on a windy beach, a small boy and his grandmother keep despair at bay with an old white door. In these stories, Cornish folklore slips into everyday life. Hopes, regrets and memories are entangled with catfish, wrecker's lamps, standing stones and baying hounds, and relationships wax and wane in the glow of a moonlit sea.

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Stop What You're Doing and Read This!

Stop What You're Doing and Read This!

Author: Mark Haddon, Michael Rosen, Zadie Smith, Carmen Callil Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/12/2011

In any 24 hours there might be sleeping, eating, kids, parents, friends, lovers, work, school, travel, deadlines, emails, phone calls, Facebook, Twitter, the news, the TV, Playstation, music, movies, sport, responsibilities, passions, desires, dreams. Why should you stop what you're doing and read a book? People have always needed stories. We need literature - novels, poetry - because we need to make sense of our lives, test our depths, understand our joys and discover what humans are capable of. Great books can provide companionship when we are lonely or peacefulness in the midst of an overcrowded daily life.

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New World Fairy Tales

New World Fairy Tales

Author: Cassandra Parkin Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/12/2011

In contemporary America, an un-named college student sets out on an obsessive journey of discovery to collect and record the life-stories of total strangers. The interviews that follow have echoes of another, far more famous literary journey, undertaken long ago and in another world. Drawing on the original, unexpurgated tales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, six of their most famous works are re-imagined in the rich and endlessly varied landscapes of contemporary America. A haunting blend of romance and realism, these stripped-back narratives of human experience are the perfect read for anyone who has read their child a bedtime fairy story, and wondered who ever said these were stories meant for children.

ebook of the month

There is a real skill in being able to conjure a whole life in just a few pages, to be able to leave a reader with an enduring feeling in just a short time. Here you will find lasting stories about life the universe and everything, from authors you already know as novelists and some that will be knew and welcome friends. We love a good short story, not just because they provide great reading in bite-size chunks - perfect for the trip to work, or a moment when you just want a small piece of brilliance in your life – but also because they are (if they are good) a perfect piece of art, capturing the human condition in a snapshot that stays with the reader for much longer than it took to write. As Graham Greene put it; “a novel can seldom have the sense of perfection which you find in Chekhov’s story, The Lady with the Dog.” From Chekhov to Julian Barnes via a whole host of other perfectionists, we have hand-picked the very best of short story collections for readers of all tastes.