In today’s day and age, many people don’t have time to read 300+ page novels. Luckily, short story collections perfectly balance length and content matter, making it fairly easy to squeeze in one or two short stories throughout your busy daily routine.

Let’s face it, a well-written short story offers a condensed version of everything a novel does: full character arcs, themes, a climax and resolution, and other elements.

Here is a list of the 10 finest collections of short stories. Let us know what you think!


  1. The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Thing Around Your NeckChimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the leading voices of African Literature to date, and this collection of stories erases and doubt of that. The Thing Around Your Neck consists of tales of Nigerians in Africa and in the US who are between two cultures. Their experiences face a multitude of issues in the categories of tragedy, relationships, political and religious violence, loneliness, and displacement. Adichie puts a lot of herself into these stories, and as a result, the sense of realism in them is heightened.

Buy the collection here.



  1. What You Call Winter by Nalini Jones

What You Call WinterNalini Jones’ debut collection is composed of nine interconnected stories of an extended family spanning three decades. Readers are introduced to a small Catholic community in India and those who populate it—flawed, inquisitive, sympathetic characters. Because they’re interconnected, it’s possible to fully understand most if not all the characters, from children to grandparents, and from family to family.

It’s a delight to read, to work out the family ties which aren’t apparent in the beginning, and to discover the glistening moments in each story. Overall, What You Call Winter is a superb collection that forces the imperative questioning of the meaning of home and belonging, especially when faced with lost innocence.

Buy the collection here.



  1. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Lone Ranger and TontoThis collection of linked short stories explores life on an Indian reservation, inclusive of the ways in which Indians deal with the pains and the joys of their lives. At times the events that occur are sweet and brutal, moving and rough, but always honest. Alexie was only nineteen when writing some of these stories, nonetheless, he successfully blends consistent humor with the thought-provoking realism of life as a Native American.

Buy the collection here.



  1. We Live in Water by Jess Walter

We Live in WaterWe Live in Water is full of dark, edgy stories that perfectly balance horrid, heartfelt, and humorous events. The world isn’t kind to the characters, each of them being a loser in some shape or form. They’re careless fathers, scam artists, gamblers, and worse, but Walter’s well-placed descriptions of the pivotal moments that hit them makes readers want to see how their bleak lives play out.

Included in this collection are the stories “Don’t Eat Cat” and “Statistical Abstract of My Hometown, Spokane, Washington,” both of which achieved a cult following after publication online.

Buy the collection here.



  1. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Unaccustomed EarthBecause she’s Pulitzer Prize winner, readers expect a lot from Lahiri’s work. Unaccustomed Earth delivers excellent prose, emotional wisdom, and substance over style. The title refers to the first story in this collection, but appears in all the stories as a motif about how Lahiri’s characters are unaccustomed to the shifts and changes in the world, especially a world in which their cultural conflicts affect their relationships.

Buy the collection here.




  1. Among the Missing by Dan Chaon

Among the MissingAs the title suggests, each of the stories in this collection include a character who is missing in some form—dead, in jail, disappeared, estranged—but is still a presence in the character’s lives. Among the memories of those missing are characters who are constantly reminded of their losses in pessimistic and achingly poignant ways.

Chaon’s storylines are unique and unparalleled: a widow turns an inflatable doll into a surrogate husband and father, a woman caring for her incarcerated brother-in-law’s macaw discovers the bird is a mouthpiece for its owner’s crimes, a man whose childhood secret may have cost his friend his life, and more.

Buy the collection here.



  1. Ayiti by Roxane Gay

AyitiGay’s debut collection does not contain your ordinary works of fiction, rather, it’s a unique blend of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in fifteen short stories. All of these genres intertwine with common themes about Haiti, the Haitian diaspora, and the Haitian experience. The stories are steeped with emotion through the disclosure of the daily struggles the citizens face concerning poverty, kidnapping, the unattainable American Dream, corruption, and more.

Buy the collection here.



  1. The Iguana Killer: Twelve Stories of the Heart by Alberto Rios

Iguana KillerAlberto Rios’ collection is considered a classic of Chicano fiction. The stories are written with a sense of humor and emotion, but what sets this collection apart from others is how Rios writes about the struggle children face to keep their childhood. This theme is most prevalent in “The Secret Lion,” in which the narrator believes adulthood is mundane and thus explores the mountains on the Mexican border only to find a heaven that is taken away from him by adults.

Buy the collection here.



  1. Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood

Stone MattressWith fantasy and sci-fi influences, Atwood’s collection of nine tales are notorious for being wicked–in the sense that there is some form of harm, mild and not, being done onto another person or an entire group of people. The first three tales are interconnected, and establish the recurring theme of aging. Rather than following people in their younger years, Atwood focuses on the other part of the population commonly left out of the story: our elders.

Writer Ursula K LeGuin described the tales in Stone Mattress perfectly: “Look at these tales, then, as eight icily refreshing arsenic popsicles, followed by a baked Alaska laced with anthrax, all served with impeccable style and aplomb.”

Buy the collection here.



  1. Pastoralia by George Saunders

PastoraliaWith stories that are set in a somewhat skewed version of America, Saunders’ Pastoralia essentially writes his own version of The Twilight Zone. In doing so, he shows readers what contemporary life would be like when twisted ever so slightly.

In these stories, characters re-enact cavemen for a living, a male sex worker’s Aunt dies and promptly rises again to nag their household, a motivational speaker urges his audience to forgo people who are “crapping your oatmeal,” and more.

Buy the collection here.