15 of the Best Short Stories and Collections

short stories

In recent years, I’ve gone from being ambivalent about short stories to craving them – reading them with relish whenever I have a moment.

After Amor Towles came out with his collection of shorts, I knew that Beyond the Bookends needed a dedicated page for all of my favorites.

Below, you’ll find some of my favorite short story collections across multiple different genres. Who knows, this post might just make it as a reading challenge prompt one day soon!

*Short story Collections Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

Short Story Collections

Table for Two

Table for Two by Amor Towles

With Table for Two, famed author Amor Towles re-released his novella, Eve in Hollywood, along with brand new collection of short stories set in New York City.

Each story is an ode to a different part of life in New York, telling the stories of a Russian immigrant, a rare bookseller, an opera bootlegger, and a stranded traveler, among others.

And for Rules of Civility fans, Eve is a character from that novel who was last seen boarding a train to Hollywood. Her adventures out west were an absolute delight!

Why I Loved it: Though I am not typically into short stories, Amor Towles is a favorite of mine so I had to read this collection. Each short story could have been a novel of it’s own, but the novella about Eve was the shining star for me.

Find this book in Old Hollywood Novels / Summer Read 2024 / Books Set in NYC / New Historical Fiction Books

You Think It, I'll Say It and other Reese Witherspoon Book Club List Picks.

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

May 2018 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick

The sharp tales within this collection of short stories are perfect for the modern era. From a story about an influencer to a honeymoon vacation gone awry, each story takes a hard look at the flaws and envy our society produces within us.

Why I Liked it: This collection was a lovely little break in my reading. I’ve long been a fan of Sittenfeld’s work, so I was eager to get to this collection. It was nice to be able to read a story in one sitting for a chance. I think I’ll have to read more short stories in the future, particularly if Sittenfeld is at the helm.

Oh. What. Fun.

Oh. What. Fun. By Chandler Baker

Oh. What. Fun. is a family drama that had me laughing out loud and cringing at the same time. It’s all about a mother gone missing at Christmas and her adult children trying to justify their terrible behavior before she disappears.

Why I Liked it: I read it in one sitting, smiling the whole time because it HIT. This poor mother did all the work and only got a dinky robe. It’s literally a book version of the SNL sketch from last holiday season and I adored it.

Find this book in Short Stories / Best Christmas Books 2021

Nobody gets out alive

Nobody Gets Out Alive by Leigh Newman

From a many-times widowed woman trying to sell her home to a clairvoyant who is dealing with a new landlord and dwindling clients, each story highlights a different fierce female protagonist with grit.

Why I Liked It: This collection of short stories left me in awe of the women of Alaska… how they balance everyday life and problems with the brilliant and deadly force of nature they live in. The Alaskan wilderness is not for me, but this set of stories sure is.

Short Stories with Fantasy or Dystopian Elements

Land of Big Numbers

Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen

This short story collection is utterly captivating. Te-Ping Chen vividly showcases life in China and its nuances, political and otherwise. Some stories are straight fiction while others have a touch of magical realism. My favorite involves a new fruit that inspires strong emotions in the eater. ⁣

Why I Like it: Each story is engaging and could lead to a book of its own. It’s a wonderful debut from a writer known for her work as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.⁣

41vttAwK6oL. SX316 BO1204203200

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

This collection of short stories was a thought-provoking delight. Within the pages of each story, Evans was able to shine a spotlight on racism through the lens of history and how it shapes American culture.

Why I Like it: The titular novella was my favorite of the bunch. It gave me chills and had me thinking it was over too soon.

Find this book in Short Stories / Magical Realism

my monticello

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

This is a novella with a few short stories and it was SEARING. The short stories at the beginning were good, but the titular novella had my heart pounding.

In it, the extreme weather of the near future, along with a group of white militiamen, has forced black descendants of Thomas Jefferson to seek refuge in Monticello. As they battle to stay alive, they realize the danger they face from white men was always going to end this way.

Why I Like It: The ambiguous ending left me pondering what I thought would happen to them. This would be a great book club pick for those who don’t like longer tomes.

Classic Short Stories and Collections

benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This short story revolves around a man who aged in reverse – born as a 70-year-old and ending his life as a newborn. He has a chance at love and experiences life’s ups and downs throughout his odd life.

My Thoughts: I listened to this one while doing the laundry the other night, it’s only an hour long but I rather liked it! I liked it so much that I was frustrated that it wasn’t a full-blown novel.

Find this book in Best Classic Books /1920s Novels / Short Story Collections

sleepy

Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

In the secluded glen of Sleepy Hollow, the Headless Horseman haunts the residents. He’s the ghost of a soldier from the Revolutionary War.

New schoolmaster Ichabod Crane encounters the ghoul, and the legend lives on. This classic fantasy novel is a must-read around Halloween.

Why I Liked it: I was first exposed to this tale as a child via the Disney animated remake of Irving’s beloved story. I found the original quite compelling and it solidified to me why it’s such a reknown tale.

Find this book in Literary Classics / Halloween Movies Based on Books

Thriller and Mystery Short Stories

The Grown Up and other Halloween thriller books

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

When a woman pretending to be a psychic is hired to do an exorcism on a house, she learns that she just might believe in the supernatural after all.

It’s only 64 pages, but this Halloween thriller book will keep you up at night.

Why I Liked It: A short and C-R-E-E-P-Y haunted house book, I wanted to put down and continue at the same time.

Find this book in Best Short Stories / Books about Con Artists / Haunted House Books / Halloween Thrillers

Marple Twelve New Stories by Multiple Authors

Marple: Twelve New Mysteries by Various Authors

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple series was my first introduction to mysteries. I was thrilled to see some of my current favorite mystery writers take a stab at all-new Miss Marple stories.

Lucy Foley, Ruth Ware, and Leigh Bardugo are just a few of the dozen writers who wrote a short story for this compilation.

My Thoughts: I thought it was very well done and as full-cast audiobooks go, it was wonderful too. Dame Agatha would be proud these retellings.

Find this book in Classic Retellings / Short Stories

Sherlock Holmes

The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes’ ability to solve each crime is fascinating. His observations are astute and I can never, ever guess who committed the crime.

If you are looking for the best mystery books of all time, Sherlock Holmes cannot be missed. This complete collection has all the short stories and the 4 Holmes novels.

Why I Love It: I am a HUGE detective story lover and no one does detective stories better than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. These books have inspired countless adaptations and retellings since their initial publication.

Find this book in Sherlock Holmes Books / Literary Classics / Best Mystery Books / British Mysteries / Short Stories

Middle Grade and YA Short Stories

Whiteout

Whiteout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany B. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon

You know a book is going to be fire when this many heavy-hitting authors are involved.

This Young adult Christmas book, written by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon, is the perfect ya romance to read on a snowy winter day.

It’s set in Atlanta during a rare snowstorm and features multiple love stories set on the same night and interconnected when friends try to help their besties get back together.

Why I Like It: Each of these love stories swept me up and I loved the warm and fuzzy feelings this book gave me. Save this book to read before the fire when it snows and you won’t regret it!

Find this Book in The Best Christmas Romance Books / YA Christmas Romance Books / Books with Color in the Title / Books Set in Winter / Short Stories

Wayside school

The Wayside School Collection by Louis Sacher

Louis Sachar’s hysterical collection of stories about the students of Wayside School is a true must-read for students and a perfect read-aloud book.

The wacky tales and backward ways of the students and teachers at Wayside will have your child in a fit of giggles. Each chapter is about a different student in the school, so they can be read as individual short stories, making them perfect for bedtime reading.

This is the first in a collection of stories about Wayside School. While I recommend you start with this one, each book in the series is just as funny!

Why I Love It: Not all books from my childhood stand the test of time, but I enjoyed this story even more when I read it to my children. Hearing them giggle through the stories had me smiling. It certainly made for an entertaining bedtime tale.

Find this book in Short Stories / Bedtime Stories for Kids / Best Books for 10-Year-Olds / Family Audiobooks

Look Both Ways

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

I thought this middle-grade novel was a wonderful look at the problems facing young people. Each chapter is a different narrator telling a different story about their walk home from school addressing issues like crushes, bullying, sick parents, and more.

Each tale gives you a glimpse into the minds of the children in the neighborhood – the funny, the sad, and everything in between.

Why I Like It: I finished this story in one sitting and immediately told Jackie to give it to her son. I can’t wait to give this to my boys one day.

Find this book in Best School Books / Realistic Fiction Books / Short Stories

Which of these collections are you most likely to read?

Novel Ideas 55

Book Lists by Genre

Are you looking for more books in your favorite genre? This hub will let you choose which genre to dive into!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.