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.
'One of the most singular, moving and crucial voices of our times' David Peace In Male Tears, a debut collection of stories that brings together over fifteen years of work, Benjamin Myers lays bare the male psyche in all its fragility, complexity and failure, its hubris and forbidden tenderness. Farmers, fairground workers and wandering pilgrims, gruesome gamekeepers, bare-knuckle boxers and ex-cons with secret passions, the men that populate these unsettling, wild and wistful stories form a multi-faceted, era-spanning portrait of just what it means to be a man.
‘Twisted Scarborough’ by J.B. Forsyth is the latest in a series of horror-filled short story collections all based in Scarborough. In these 12 stories the reader will discover a strange clifftop cave, see the consequences of playing with a magician’s hat, an encounter with a Roman God and more besides in this delightfully chilling anthology. Expertly written, with plenty of tension, dark humour and cliff-hangers, these short stories are the perfect entertainment for a winter (or a summer) night. I liked ‘Books to Die For’ most for it’s ingenious twisting and warping of reality to suit this mysterious bookstore. Each story is unique, with their own characters, pace and tone. As I read I was excited to see what the next story would bring while also lingering over what might have happened at the end of the last. I can see myself and many other readers enjoying this collection from cover to cover and then returning to read and ponder over their favourites. There is horror here but it’s mixed with a perfect balance of brevity, tension, the uncanny and fantastical plot. The only way these stories will be keeping me up at night is to ponder over how much has been packed into so few pages, and what could have happened after the writing ended.
Featuring notable characters from the Kinloch fishing community of Denzil Meyrick's much-loved DCI Daley thrillers, A Toast to the Old Stones is an essential standalone story for fans of the series. With the seasonal setting and attractive hardback format making it a great gift to curl up with on Boxing Day, it’s also likely to entice new readers to discover the novels. Denzil Meyrick sure knows how to conjure details of character and place that keep readers invested in knowing what happens next, and those skills are very much on display in this atmospheric tale, alongside the author’s trademark humour. With the 12th January New Year celebrations approaching, the fishermen of Kinloch are readying themselves for their annual pilgrimage to the Auld Stones, with youngster Hamish over the moon to be invited to partake in the tradition, given that this honour is usually bestowed on the oldest fishermen. Then, as the new owners of Firdale Hotel create a stink by increasing their whiskey prices, with a plan to circumvent them all but ruined by a tip-off, the appearance of a “man from another realm, from another time” further adds to the intrigue.
'Resistance, Revolution and Other Love Stories’ by K is a collection of short stories which, as the title already suggests, focuses on varying perspectives on love. From teen boys who both have feelings for the same girl to futuristic Big Brother-like worlds with automatons and a telling of one of my personal favourite Greek Myths Orpheus and Eurydice. Each story stands alone and so this book can be picked up and enjoyed from cover to cover, or when a reader is looking for a short story to get lost in. Although the theme throughout is love, not all the stories are uplifting, and each one has a distinct tone and atmosphere. I thought the stories were well written and found myself chuckling out loud to ‘Calamity Jane’. Set across the world and throughout time with one universal thread I think that this is an eclectic collection of stories that’s well worth a read. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
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.