Many of us got into literature through short stories. A short fictional book, after all, reminds us of the books we read as children. Many famous authors made names for themselves through short fiction. Perhaps the most famous of them, Edgar Allan Poe, said once that we shouldn’t bother reading a literary work that is “too long to be read at one sitting.”
For short fiction old and new, continue reading for these 4 short fiction collections, perfect bite-sized stories for light evening reading.
Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
The best thing about Edgar Allan Poe’s stories is that most of them are in the public domain. This means that for a short fictional book, you can find most of his best work for free.
Many of us grew up reading creepy stories that borrowed from Poe. His most famous stories like “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Masque of the Red Death” are still chilling today.
There are many books out there that compile his complete short fictional works and even include his poetry. These collected volumes are a great starting point for anyone that wants to get into short fiction.
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
Many short fictional books have a unifying theme. Ray Bradbury borrows a lot from Poe to bring creepy gothic stories to the 20th century, mixed with a healthy dose of sci-fi. You’ve probably heard of Bradbury or seen adaptations of his longer books like Fahrenheit 451. But the majority of his work is short fiction.
The Illustrated Man is a collection of stories grouped around images on the back of a tattooed man. The stories are often creepy and tragic, exploring both the past and future. Anyone who enjoys speculation, horror, or sci-fi can find a lot to enjoy in this collection.
Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
J.D. Salinger is best known for The Catcher in the Rye, a book as famous for being a classic as for being a banned book in some states. However, this collection of 9 stories presents insight into the author’s whimsy with some of his most famous other works. These include the stories, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” and “Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut.”
The 1950s charm of these stories could provide a perfect escape from the modern-day.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
This 2017 debut collection of short stories takes the author’s cultural history to a new level. The folk tales Machado knew as a child come back in this collection with a post-punk style for the modern age. They have flavors of horror and sci-fi mixed in with extreme social commentary.
Machado’s Cuban American heritage informs the content of these stories, but her endless ability to experiment with horror and sexuality makes this collection indispensable.
A short fictional book can provide ideal summer reading or a great distraction from work on your lunch break. These collections provide fictional literary works that all fit Poe’s criteria that fiction should be read in one sitting.
From the gothic to the humorous, stories old and new, short fiction provides a fantastic look into many literary styles and periods. Experiment with these works to find new authors and genres to add to your reading list.