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.
Variations is the debut short story collection from one of Britain's most compelling voices, Juliet Jacques. Using fiction inspired by found material and real-life events, Variations explores the history of transgender Britain with lyrical, acerbic wit. Variations travels from Oscar Wilde's London to austerity-era Belfast via inter-war Cardiff, a drag bar in Liverpool just after the decriminalisation of homosexuality, Manchester's protests against Clause 28, and Brighton in the 2000s. Through diary entries of an illicit love affair, an oral history of a contemporary political collective; a 1920s academic paper to a 1990s film script; a 1950s memoir to a series of 2014 blog posts, Jacques rewrites and reinvigorates a history so often relegated to stale police records and sensationalist news headlines. Innovative and fresh, Variations is a bold and beautiful book of stories unheard; until now.
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.
Short and brilliantly bittersweet, Marie Aubert’s Grown Ups packs plenty of existential trials into its 160 pages. Honest, entertaining, and poignant with it, Grown Ups shows how many of us never quite grow up through its nuanced, droll portrayal of family dynamics. Single architect Ida isn’t terribly keen on children - “other people’s children, always, everywhere” - but, at forty, as her family gather at their country cabin to celebrate her mother’s 65th birthday, she’s considering freezing her eggs for the future. Sibling tension and rivalry is succinctly and potently evoked from the outset, delivered through Ida’s engaging first-person narrative that often drifts into introspective monologues. Her younger sister Marthe is insecure, desperate to conceive, and envious of Ida. At the same time, Ida competes with Marthe (“She can’t overtake me”), sick of Tinder, and desperate for physical closeness, “to have someone come up behind me, hold me, their breath at my neck.” The cracks that come in the wake of Marthe’s big announcement widen further during their mother’s birthday meal, leaving both sisters forever changed.
A Jay Qasim short story and prequel to EAST OF HOUNSLOW written for Quick Reads 2021 Business has been slow for Hounslow's small time dope-dealer, Jay Qasim. A student house party means quick easy cash but it also means breaking his own rules. But desperate times lead him there - and Jay finds himself in the middle of a crime scene. Idris Zaidi, a Police Constable and Jay's best friend, is having a quiet night when he gets a call out following a noise complaint at a house party. Fed up with the lack of excitement in his job, he visits the scene and quickly realises that people are in danger after a stabbing. Someone will stop at nothing to get revenge . . . Don't miss Jay Qasim's next adventure: 1. East of Hounslow 2. Homegrown Hero 3. Ride or Die
She has only one chance to turn her life around... Allie is bored with her job and starting to wonder whether she even likes her boyfriend, Ryan. The high point in her day is passing a cafe on her walk home from work. It is the sort of place where she'd really like to work. Then one day she sees as advert on the door: assistant wanted. But before she can land her dream job, Allie knows she must achieve two things: 1. Learn to cook 2. End her relationship with Ryan, especially as through the window of the cafe, she spies a waiter who looks much more like her type of man. And when she learns that the cafe is in danger of closing, Allie knows she must do her very best to save the day ... This is a short story, not a full-length novel.
They can't see her, but she can see them... Simone has a secret. She likes to stand at her bathroom window and spy on the couple downstairs through their kitchen skylight. She knows what they eat for breakfast and who they've got over for dinner. She knows what mood they're in before they even step out the door. There's nothing wrong with looking, is there? Until one day Simone sees something through the skylight she is not expecting. Something that upsets her so much she begins to plot a terrible crime... From the author of Our House, the British Book Awards Crime & Thriller of the Year
Wish You Were Dead is a Quick Read short story from bestselling author Peter James. Roy Grace and his family have left Sussex behind for a week's holiday in France. The website promised a grand house, but when they arrive the place is very different from the pictures. And it soon becomes clear that their holiday nightmare is only just beginning. An old enemy of Roy, a lowlife criminal he had put behind bars, is now out of jail - and out for revenge. He knows where Roy and his family have gone on holiday. Of course he does. He's been hacking their emails - and they are in the perfect spot for him to pay Roy back . . .
When his girlfriend throws him out during the pandemic, Bambi has to go to his Uncle's house in lock-down Lagos. He arrives during a blackout, and is surprised to find his Aunty Bidemi sitting in a candlelit room with another woman. They both claim to be the mother of the baby boy, fast asleep in his crib. At night Bambi is kept awake by the baby's cries, and during the days he is disturbed by a cockerel that stalks the garden. There is sand in the rice. A blood stain appears on the wall. Someone scores tribal markings into the baby's cheeks. Who is lying and who is telling the truth?
'The Old Men Who Row Boats and Other Stories' is a collection of 14 thoughtful and thought-provoking short stories by David Joseph. Previously published as a poet, the author's lyrical prose flows effortlessly throughout the book. Set in a series of Spanish and Portuguese cities, characters of differing ages, gender and origins reveal their joy, grief, regret or sadness through extraordinary events in their otherwise ordinary lives. Many of these stories are outstanding but, for me, particularly so is 'The Cleanest Alimentación in Spain'. It tells of 18 year old Jorge, a second generation Chinese immigrant, who works in the family convenience store at weekends to give his mother a break. One quiet Sunday afternoon, four yobs enter the shop intent on making trouble. Although powerfully built, Jorge keeps his cool as they sweep tins from the stacked shelves, laughing and jeering all the while. Thinking of the long and proud histories of their two countries, he stands firm as the louts walk off with their loot, which he pays for from his own money to prevent his mother finding out. We learn of his love for a Spanish student in his class, the dream of being with her, the burden of prejudice but the hope she gives him for Spain, for the future, for himself. This moving collection is a must-read...compelling, sincere, incisive and keenly observed. The backdrop of the Iberian peninsula is magnificently evocative, so much so that the reader is transported to the sun and sites there, which is just what is needed when, at the moment, it's so difficult to actually travel in person. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
In the bedazzling world of adventure sports, many would say (me included) that Anna McNuff burns the brightest. The title for her latest book, Bedtime Adventure Stories for Grown-Ups, may surprise many of her following who don’t regard Anna as especially grown-up and may also be surprised at the implication that she ever sleeps! There’s a laugh on every page of this compilation of some of the author’s "mini-adventures” over the years - although what’s mini for Anna might be mega for most... Close to home and abroad, on wheels and on foot, at all times of the day and night … Anna’s appetite for adventure is insatiable and her talent for wordplay and punchlines ensures that the stories are lively, colourful and likely to turn up your lust for living. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about these dreamy adventurous bedtime tales… is that they are actually, really, true. I mean, who climbs over their backyard gate to be sent all over Europe by the public egging her on with daily votes on where to head to next? Answer: This gal. Find our full list of recommended adventure reads for the London Mountain Film Festival Bookfest 2021.
‘Running Coyote and Fallen Star’ by Gavin Boyter is a collection of short stories created through an interesting concept. Looking for inspiration the author started to write short stories to a strict word count using three randomly generated words as prompts. ‘Running Coyote and Fallen Star’ not only contains some of these works (that have received further editing from the initial strict requirements) but other stories of a variety of length for readers to disappear into. I found all of these stories very well-written and I liked the variety of genres within the collection. Some stories address life during the pandemic, others are set in the future with a science fiction twist. There’s tales of ghosts and old friendships and without going through and describing every single one, there’s something for everyone. If you’d like a recommendation to start with, I found ‘Duet’ to be the most powerful. A great short story collection to suit any mood or available reading time. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
A wonderfully engaging blended mix of spy turned PI novel set in the USA during the 1960’s. When ex CIA spy Vera’s girlfriend leaves her and on the same day she is sacked, Vera decides to turn private investigator. Her first case involves a lost child and a Caribbean Island under authoritarian rule. I haven’t read the first in the series Who is Vera Kelly, yet felt incredibly comfortable stepping midway into the story. Though I have to say that the various mentions of the first book where she was stranded in Argentina during a coup, ensured I wanted to go back and meet her at the start. Vera is very much the star of this story, she survives on instinct and smarts, her vulnerabilities adding an edge. Rosalie Knecht creates a beautifully balanced story, with go-getter Vera marching through the interesting plot and her life during a time of political upheaval and action for LGBTQ rights. The ending arrived at unexpected speed, leaving me wanting to know more about this private investigator. Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery is a short, smart, rewarding detective novel with real heart.