Share Good Things Come in Small Packages: 11 Short Story Collections to Savor

Good Things Come in Small Packages: 11 Short Story Collections to Savor

Erin Flaaen is a corporate marketing assistant at Simon and Schuster. Despite her innocent appearance, she loves dark stories, having been strongly influenced by Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner as a teenager. Originally from Arizona, she moved to New York in 2014 and now spends her days being constantly confused by the weather, craving Mexican food, and reading books on trains.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate the art of the short story. These gifted authors have mastered the art of keeping things brief without skimping on plot, character, or beautiful prose. Entertaining, delightful, and sometimes shocking, these enticing collections will satisfy your need for meaningful literature even on the days when you can’t quite get yourself to pick up the 500-page tome on your bedside table.


Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage
by Alice Munro

While visiting her unconventional aunt, a college student discovers an astonishing secret and its impact on her own life. Following his wife’s nursing-home romance, a philanderer responds with surprising grace. This is Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro at her best: tirelessly observant, creating narratives that loop and swerve like memory, and conjuring up characters that are deeply and gloriously human, as thorny and contradictory as people we know ourselves.

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage
Alice Munro

While visiting her unconventional aunt, a college student discovers an astonishing secret and its impact on her own life. Following his wife’s nursing-home romance, a philanderer responds with surprising grace. This is Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro at her best: tirelessly observant, creating narratives that loop and swerve like memory, and conjuring up characters that are deeply and gloriously human, as thorny and contradictory as people we know ourselves.

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Esther Stories
by Peter Orner

In this original debut collection, Peter Orner takes us across America and inside two very different Jewish families, one on the East Coast, one in the Midwest. The narrator of the title story tries to piece together his aunt Esther’s life from fragments of stories he heard about her. These innovative stories explore emotion, memory, and the brief but far-reaching occasions that haunt us.

Esther Stories
Peter Orner

In this original debut collection, Peter Orner takes us across America and inside two very different Jewish families, one on the East Coast, one in the Midwest. The narrator of the title story tries to piece together his aunt Esther’s life from fragments of stories he heard about her. These innovative stories explore emotion, memory, and the brief but far-reaching occasions that haunt us.

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Alone With You
by Marisa Silver

Including the O. Henry Prize–winning story “The Visitor,” in which a VA hospital nurse’s aide confronts a family ghost and deals with her own haunting past, this elegant collection explores the complexities of modern relationships and how love manifests itself. With a variety of relatable characters facing both the familiar and strange, these stories cause us to reflect on ourselves and see ourselves anew.

Alone With You
Marisa Silver

Including the O. Henry Prize–winning story “The Visitor,” in which a VA hospital nurse’s aide confronts a family ghost and deals with her own haunting past, this elegant collection explores the complexities of modern relationships and how love manifests itself. With a variety of relatable characters facing both the familiar and strange, these stories cause us to reflect on ourselves and see ourselves anew.

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The Age of Grief
by Jane Smiley

The luminous novella and stories in this collection explore variations of love, friendship, and marriage with all the compassion and insight that has come to be expected from Jane Smiley. In one of these tales, a lonely, single woman searches for the secret to happiness by befriending the married couple next door. In another, a man faces guilt after a surprisingly easy escape from an affair that no longer compels him. Together, they capture moments of intimacy with grace, clarity, and indelible emotional power.

The Age of Grief
Jane Smiley

The luminous novella and stories in this collection explore variations of love, friendship, and marriage with all the compassion and insight that has come to be expected from Jane Smiley. In one of these tales, a lonely, single woman searches for the secret to happiness by befriending the married couple next door. In another, a man faces guilt after a surprisingly easy escape from an affair that no longer compels him. Together, they capture moments of intimacy with grace, clarity, and indelible emotional power.

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Come to Me
by Amy Bloom

A grieving mother, a frightened father, a wife who becomes another man’s mistress, and a psychiatrist crashing through professional boundaries are among the many characters whose inner worlds are revealed in this stunning collection. Amy Bloom takes us into the hidden corners of marriages, affairs, and friendships, showing us tenderness and humor in grief and celebrating the flawed nature of the human race.

Come to Me
Amy Bloom

A grieving mother, a frightened father, a wife who becomes another man’s mistress, and a psychiatrist crashing through professional boundaries are among the many characters whose inner worlds are revealed in this stunning collection. Amy Bloom takes us into the hidden corners of marriages, affairs, and friendships, showing us tenderness and humor in grief and celebrating the flawed nature of the human race.

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You Know When the Men Are Gone
by Siobhan Fallon

The sounds of men marching in formation reverberate throughout Fort Hood, Texas. But without the men, there is a sense of silence, a muted sense of life. This unforgettable collection of interconnected stories takes readers onto the base, inside the homes, and into the marriages of the women waiting for their men to return to Fort Hood—intimate places not seen in newspaper articles or politicians speeches.

You Know When the Men Are Gone
Siobhan Fallon

The sounds of men marching in formation reverberate throughout Fort Hood, Texas. But without the men, there is a sense of silence, a muted sense of life. This unforgettable collection of interconnected stories takes readers onto the base, inside the homes, and into the marriages of the women waiting for their men to return to Fort Hood—intimate places not seen in newspaper articles or politicians speeches.

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The Stories of Eva Luna
by Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende returns to the character of Eva Luna in this collection of brilliantly crafted stories. Beginning with the request to tell a story “you have never told anyone before,” these twenty-three tales of love, vengeance, compassion, and the strengths of women create a world that is at once poignantly familiar and intriguingly new.

The Stories of Eva Luna
Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende returns to the character of Eva Luna in this collection of brilliantly crafted stories. Beginning with the request to tell a story “you have never told anyone before,” these twenty-three tales of love, vengeance, compassion, and the strengths of women create a world that is at once poignantly familiar and intriguingly new.

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The Birthday Of The World
by Ursula K. Le Guin

In these eight stories, Ursula K. Le Guin has created a provocative, ever-evolving universe filled with diverse worlds and rich characters reminiscent of our earthly selves, each of whom probes the essence of humanity.

The Birthday Of The World
Ursula K. Le Guin

In these eight stories, Ursula K. Le Guin has created a provocative, ever-evolving universe filled with diverse worlds and rich characters reminiscent of our earthly selves, each of whom probes the essence of humanity.

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Smoke and Mirrors
by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman uses imagination and supreme artistry to transform the mundane into terrible wonders in this cruel, yet beautiful, collection. From an old woman who purchases the Holy Grail at a thrift store to assassins who advertise their services in the Yellow Pages under “Pest Control,” these stories explore a new reality that is eerily reminiscent of our own.

Smoke and Mirrors
Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman uses imagination and supreme artistry to transform the mundane into terrible wonders in this cruel, yet beautiful, collection. From an old woman who purchases the Holy Grail at a thrift store to assassins who advertise their services in the Yellow Pages under “Pest Control,” these stories explore a new reality that is eerily reminiscent of our own.

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Interpreter of Maladies
by Jhumpa Lahiri
These elegant, touching stories feature characters struggling to navigate the Indian traditions they’ve inherited and the baffling new world in which they reside. United by their desire to seek love beyond the barriers of culture and generations, Jhumpa Lahiri tells their stories with a deft insight that displays her enormous talent as a storyteller.
Interpreter of Maladies
Jhumpa Lahiri

10 Books to Read in the Back of a Tuk-Tuk

I love India so much that I cannot wait to go back. At this very moment, I am struggling against the desire to pack some lightweight clothing into a suitcase and head to Kerala, where I spent the better part of a week while traveling abroad in 2012. Here are a few of the stories I return to when I’m longing for a jasmine flower tucked behind my ear and a seat at an old friend’s table on the streets of Cochin.

MENTIONED IN:

What We’re Reading for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

By Sarah Jane Abbott | February 28, 2017

Off the Shelf’s 15 Favorite Book Lists from 2016

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 15, 2016

10 Books to Read in the Back of a Tuk-Tuk

By Amy Hendricks | February 18, 2016

Good Things Come in Small Packages: 11 Short Story Collections to Savor

By Erin Flaaen | July 30, 2015

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Astray
by Emma Donoghue

In these surprising and moving stories, Emma Donoghue takes us from Puritan Massachusetts to revolutionary-era New Jersey and antebellum Louisiana, highlighting four centuries that have profound echoes in the present and offering us moving meditations on restless times. Her characters are brought to life through historically rich detail, and their voices echo across the decades.

Astray
Emma Donoghue

In these surprising and moving stories, Emma Donoghue takes us from Puritan Massachusetts to revolutionary-era New Jersey and antebellum Louisiana, highlighting four centuries that have profound echoes in the present and offering us moving meditations on restless times. Her characters are brought to life through historically rich detail, and their voices echo across the decades.

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