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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.
So beautifully written you can just slip into this gentle wander through Botswana alongside the kind and astute investigations of Mma Ramotswe. During a quiet patch at the agency, Precious has friends in need and Charlie is placed in a difficult position. If you haven’t read any of this much loved series, do start at the beginning with the aptly named The No:1 Ladies Detective Agency. We are now at the twentieth novel and the absolute charm of these books is in getting to know the characters (Mma Makutsi is a personal favourite). Alexander McCall Smith excels in creating a light yet warm atmosphere where he quietly looks at complex issues. Human nature in all its wonder is examined with mellow observations and compassionate wit sitting alongside the vivid heat of Botswana as it waits for rain. To The Land Of Long Lost Friends is a lovely, affectionate read and a fine addition to this celebrated series. Find out more about Alexander McCall Smith in our Book Chat blog post.
Stunningly gorgeous short stories and wonderful illustrations make for an absolute treasure trove of a book. I have quite simply fallen in love with Foxfire, Wolfskin, it makes my heart sing. Discover 13 short stories about shapeshifting women, the shortest story being three and a half pages long. All are “either reimaginings of older tales, or contain characters, beings and motifs which appear in older tales”. On opening the book, I felt as though I was walking into an age old story, the descriptions are startling, vivid, touchable. I began with Wolfskin, which is sharp and edgy, it hurts, it feels… right. After finishing Wolfskin, I immediately read it again, this time out loud. I fell headlong in once more, and at the extraordinary end, emotional goosebumps skitter-scattered down my arms. All of these stories have a unique strength to them and I disappeared into each one. Just a note on the accompanying illustrations by Helen Nicholson. They are fresh, original, and yet have that same age old feel of the stories. At the very end you will find notes on each tale, the inspiration behind them and where the idea appears in folklore. Foxfire, Wolfskin is full of beautiful stories that take hold, bite, leave their mark and I adored it so much I had to add it as one of my picks of the month!
Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
Missing a Beat and Other Stories is a varied collection of short stories. There are 11 different short stories, spanning a variety of genres although contain a similar thread. Each of the main characters seemed a little bit broken in their own way, with additional obstacles and challenges to face. I like the variety within this different collection of short stories, this is a book that you could return to, dipping in and out to find a story to suit your mood. Each short story is well-developed and the characters within them are nuanced and well written. Each story draws you in with fresh questions about what has happened and what will happen. I paused between each story to ponder the events. My favourite story was ‘Out of Sync’, the setting, description and atmosphere really brought this story leaping off the page for me, and I especially like the added touch of the bobble head, it added both whimsy and foreboding and was a good example of small detail bringing everything vibrantly to a life. A great short story collection that I would recommend and return to in the future.
Us & Everything Else is a collection of poems and short stories by Francoise Helene, in which the author explores her feelings about many different aspects of her life. Covering topics from love and loss, pain and healing to joy and wonder, self-appreciation and inner strength. There are also atmospheric black and white illustrations used throughout which are lovely. The poetry is in free form and the reader will relate to it on a very deep level. Each poem is written from the heart and truly inspiring. Francoise has made herself vulnerable when creating Us & Everything Else so that we may share her connection with the world and indeed the universe. I would challenge anyone not to be moved by these beautiful poems with their amazing imagery. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
This sequel to John Uttley’s family drama Where’s Sailor Jack? sees Bob, now past his “three score and ten”, dealing with era-defining external changes (Brexit, changes in the Labour Party, Donald Trump’s presidency) alongside day-to-day life, with his new love Wendy also given her own narrative. Having survived a divorce and a heart attack, and found himself new partner, Bob has also bought himself a grave plot “near enough to the gate for me to look for an escape if I’m sent to the wrong place,” he remarks with typically wry humour. Lively new characters are also introduced in this sequel, courtesy of teacher Lucy Fishwick, reputedly “a man-eater of all ages and sizes”, and her daughter Maddie, who’s often the object of male characters’ lascivious gazes. Reflective, nostalgic, and suffused in the author’s roots, No Precedent will appeal to those interested in personal takes on present-day political shifts. Indeed, it often reads as if lines between characters’ views and those of the author have been blurred. Tony Blair, Ed Miliband, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Teresa May, Jacob Rees-Mogg, John Bercow and Keir Starmer - and others - are discussed, and we’re also offered a reason for the collapse of Labour’s red wall in the 2019 general election: “I suppose they took the view that if you can’t beat the bastards then you might as well join them, if only for a while.” With loss, immortality (and the fates of Bolton and Blackpool football clubs) covered alongside politics, the overall reading experience is akin to overhearing a wry-minded, well-meaning stranger, then getting to know them over the course of an evening.
A collection of four uniquely wonderful long stories, including a stand-alone sequel to the No. 1 bestseller THE OUTSIDER. News people have a saying: 'If it bleeds, it leads'. And a bomb at Albert Macready Middle School is guaranteed to lead any bulletin. Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers detective agency is working on the case of a missing dog - and on her own need to be more assertive - when she sees the footage on TV. But when she tunes in again, to the late-night report, she realises there is something not quite right about the correspondent who was first on the scene. So begins 'If It Bleeds', a stand-alone sequel to the No. 1 bestselling THE OUTSIDER featuring the incomparable Holly on her first solo case - and also the riveting title story in Stephen King's brilliant new collection. Dancing alongside are three more wonderful long stories from this 'formidably versatile author' (The Sunday Times) - 'Mr Harrigan's Phone', 'The Life of Chuck' and 'Rat'. All four display the richness of King's storytelling with grace, humour, horror and breathtaking suspense. A fascinating Author's Note gives us a wonderful insight into the origin of each story and the writer's unparalleled imagination.
Quirky, provocative, and fabulous, these short stories highlight everyday normality and yet firmly shake the roots of your thoughts. Hannah Vincent is a novelist and playwright, I first came across her writing in 2014 when I read Alarm Girl, which I can still clearly remember (bearing in mind just how many books I read, it shows you how powerful her writing is). Although these short stories might leave you with more questions than answers they are actually perfectly formed. Sweary, occasionally shouty, definitely challenging, the mundane is examined, and experienced in a completely different way. She-Clown and Other Stories is a really interesting and decidedly different collection of 16 stories that I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Quirky, provocative, and fabulous, these short stories highlight everyday normality and yet firmly shake the roots of your thoughts. Hannah Vincent is a novelist and playwright, I first came across her writing in 2014 when I read Alarm Girl, which I can still clearly remember (bearing in mind just how many books I read, it shows you how powerful her writing is). Some short stories feel as though you’d like more, want more, these leave more questions than answers and yet are perfectly formed. Sweary, occasionally shouty, definitely challenging, the mundane is examined, and experienced in a completely different way. She-Clown and Other Stories is a really interesting and decidedly different collection of 16 stories, that I really do wholeheartedly recommend.
Just that little bit different (in fact strikingly different), Mexico Street challenges preconceptions and society issues, ensuring a full-on fabulous read. German public prosecutor Chastity is back, this time investigating a series of arson attacks that lead to the death of a man linked to criminal gangs. One thing to note straightaway is that I really feel you do need to have read the others in the Chastity Riley series to fully enjoy this one, otherwise too much would be unexplained and you would have to sprint like heck to keep up. Start with Blue Night, followed by Beton Rouge, both equally readable and also translated with surety by Rachel Ward. As usual Simone Buchholz snared my attention from the get-go. The words stormed my senses, falling like a sword and I found myself on full alert. Short, sharp, shocks of chapters hit, with the chapter headings almost creating their own story. Mexico Street, full of sparks and quirks, is 227 pages of wonderful. Adding to the series beautifully, I just had to include it as one of my Liz picks of the month.
Sapphire is the hot-headed leader of the Red Roses in an area where gang loyalty is all that matters. But after a tragic event, Sapphire vows to leave her old life, friends and her gang behind. Life without the Red Roses and the violence that always followed them is certainly quieter. When she meets a boy called Apollo on her way to Notting Hill Carnival, she forms an instant bond with him. She thinks he could be the one. Until she discovers he's a member of rival gang, the Gold Teeth. Will she ever escape her past with the Red Roses, and how many lives will be ruined until she does? Funny, emotional and raw, with the Notting Hill Carnival acting as the backdrop of this retelling of West Side Story, by the Sunday Times bestselling author of Queenie.
From wronged wives to nosy neighbours, from distant dads to new-found family, from secrets to lies, fresh starts to false endings - and everything in between... A collection of brilliant short stories from the best writers around. This collections contains original stories from Fanny Blake, Louise Candlish, Mike Gayle, Mari Hannah, Sophie Kinsella, Jojo Moyes, Adele Parks, Ian Rankin, Mahsuda Snaith and Keith Stuart.
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.