Short In Length, But Not Short On Content

Good morning! Today I’m linking up with The Broke and The Bookish for their weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday. This week’s prompt is “top ten books you’d give to readers who have never read ________.”

I filled in the blank with “short stories”, so I’ll be talking about ten of my favorite short stories or anthologies thereof. Why? Because I love writing short stories, and enjoy reading them almost as much. One cannot survive on thousand-page high fantasy behemoths alone, after all.


1. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl

This anthology inspired me to start writing short stories! If you haven’t tried Dahl’s books for older readers (YA and adult) yet, you should. Each story is wildly different from the next – in this book, you’ll find stories about a pickpocket, a boy who talks to animals, a farmer who finds buried Roman treasure in his fields. They’re all outstanding, but the first and title story is still my favorite.

2. Past Perfect, Present Tense by Richard Peck

Don’t let this book’s length – under two hundred pages – fool you into thinking that it’s light on content. Each story is unforgettable, in vastly different ways. Some made me laugh until my sides hurt. Some made me check under the bed for monsters. Together the stories span Peck’s entire career as an author. (P.S. Interspersed with his stories is writing advice, if you’re interested in that.)

3. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Rrrgh, how do I even talk about this story without giving away too much? Let’s just say it’s partially about feminism and partially about insanity and it’s really, really creepy. Highly recommended.

4. I’m A Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away by Bill Bryson

I’m cheating here: This is actually a collection of essays, but short stories. But whatever. One can’t always read fiction, right? I know I can’t. Anyway. When Bryson came back to his home country, he wrote a weekly newspaper column about his experiences there versus his life in the UK. Most of the essays are about completely mundane subjects like summer movies or the post office, but they’re not boring. They’re actually HILARIOUS. Trust me on this, OK?

080109_geek_1[1]5. Geektastic: Stories From the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black

I swear this book was written just for me. The twenty-odd stories were written by such nerds as Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Scott Westerfeld, David Levithan, and John Green. In between each one is a dorky comic about geek life. This book is perfect.

6. “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” and “A Scandal in Bohemia” by Arthur Conan Doyle

My two favorite Sherlock Holmes stories! I really think that if you’ve never read anything about the famous detective and want to start, you should begin with the short stories instead of the novellas. They’re better, in my opinion. The first story mentioned here has a terrific twist right at the very end, and the second features one of my favorite cunning villains – Irene Adler. Yay for clever ladies!

7. Am I Blue? Coming Out From The Silence edited by Marion Dane Bauer

There may be other YA LGBTQ+ anthologies out there, but to date this is the only one I have read. I hardly ever give books five-star ratings, but some of the stories here totally deserve that.

8. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

Honestly, I think sometimes I prefer this to the Harry Potter series proper. My favorites are “The Fountain of Fair Fortune” and the haunting “The Tale of the Three Brothers,” but they’re all good. They feel as if they were written ages and ages ago, not in the 2010s.

9. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

Each story in this collection is sweet but not overly so, and they’re really well written for children’s books. Forget the Disney version – this is SO MUCH BETTER!

10. The Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie

Of course I included something by Christie! This is me you’re talking about. All the stories, although different in subject, feature Miss Marple solving mysteries. And I didn’t solve ANY of them before she did. Oh, well.

Well, that’s my list. I hope you liked it! I tried to feature books from a variety of genres – fantasy, mystery, children’s books, et cetera. There’s so much variety in short stories! They may be short in length, but they’re definitely not short on content.

What are your favorite short stories?

About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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9 Responses to Short In Length, But Not Short On Content

  1. matttblack42 says:

    I will try to check all these out, they sound great. Especially A Scandal in Bohemia. Apparently, the original version of Irene Adler is very, very different from the BBC Sherlock version.

    I think the best short story I’ve ever read was “N.” by Stephen King. It was terrifying. He also wrote a story about a man suffering from 9/11 survivor’s guilt, which was extremely moving and only kind of scary (just in the beginning).
    The best part of King’s short stories is that, while usually in the horror genre, they are still short enough to not give you any mental scars, unlike those thousand-page epics he’s most famous for.

    • nevillegirl says:

      It IS very, very different. It’s weird… Sherlock usually follows the original stories REALLY closely. And the beginning of “A Scandal in Belgravia” is EXTREMELY accurate, like even down to the little details like where Irene keeps the pictures and how they get her to show where they are (because John sets things on fire xD). But then it’s like Moffat and Gatiss never finished reading the story, because the ending is all messed up.
      Irene outwits Sherlock in the original story, and IDK why that didn’t happen in the show. Like, Sherlock can be outwitted – by a lady, no less – and still be cool. It really takes some doing to make a modern story more sexist than the 19th-century original…
      And don’t even get me started on the “ Sherlock Irene is a lesbian but, you know, not really, because LOL she’s outsmarted all of a sudden because she gets the hots for Sherlock” like eeeeewwww sometimes that show’s writers really suck.

      I’ve never even heard of that story, but I may try some of King’s short stories. I enjoy his writing, but I don’t really want to read another entire book filled with gore any time soon. xD I can handle only so much of that.

      • matttblack42 says:

        Yeah, I think I would’ve been disappointed in the episode had I read the story beforehand. (Also, I assume in the original story, Sherlock didn’t miraculously save Irene’s life at the last second?)

        You should, both stories I mentioned (part of the collection “Journey After Sunset”) have no gore at all in it, as far as I remember. And they’re fantastic. And if you’re looking for one of his full-length novels with not a lot of gore, you can try… uh… um… Salem’s Lot? That’s all I got. Oh, and 11/22/63, though that’s not a scary one.

    • nevillegirl says:

      It was a really, really good episode… up until the very end. I mean, I was sitting there going, “Oh, I don’t see why so many people dislike this episode” until all of a sudden Irene was like “LOL I guess you outsmarted me, Sherlock, because you made me straight and now suddenly I’m in love with you and so I have to let you win.” What even.
      (And no, there was no miraculous life-saving. I don’t think Irene even ends up anywhere dangerous in the original story.)

      OK, I’ll be sure to read them soon, in that case! 🙂 Thanks for the recs. I’ve considered reading 11/22/63 as my next King book, but… part of the allure IS the goriness, isn’t it? I just don’t know if I want goriness right now. I’m very indecisive that way. xD

      • matttblack42 says:

        Ah, I see. Well, there’s a little bit of gore in 11/63/22, but it’s not supposed to be scary.

        Though if you decide you want some gore in the story, you must read The Shining as soon as possible. There’s not a whole lot of gore (nothing as bad as say, the main character getting his legs chopped off while conscious); it’s mostly just extremely tense and atmospheric. Oh, and the main character is perhaps the best character Stephen King has written so far.

  2. Ooh. The Adventure of the Speckled Band … that story freaked me out for days! It’s a great story but not something I want to read again. I guess I’m something of a scaredy cat. Still, I do love Sherlock Holmes stories.

    It’s to see Winnie the Pooh on the list. To tell the truth, I couldn’t appreciate the stories as a child. It was only as a teen that I enjoyed them, surprisingly.

    Some of my favorite short stories: The Hint of an Explanation (it had me yelling, “no! don’t let that happen! that can’t happen!”), Mandy of the Crackenshaws (I teared up), and The Bet (I teared up too).

    • nevillegirl says:

      I love that story. 😀 I couldn’t guess the ending… did you?

      I know, right? They’re very sweet, and actually really well written. And the illustrations are so cute! 😛

      I’ve never heard of any of those stories… who wrote them?

  3. Cait says:

    I want to read Geektastic now! Dorky and fantastic geeky life? COUNT ME IN. I actually haven’t read a lot of short stories. Or any?? Possibly any. I’ve read a few novellas so not sure if they count. >.>

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