This week is National Short Story week, no I didn’t know until a few weeks ago either; but I plan on celebrating! I love that short stories have a week dedicated to them because I love short stories; in my eyes they are just as valuable as novels and poetry and other forms of literature and they should not only be reserved for children, everyone should be able to access short stories.
The short story is not obviously reserved for children with tales coming from people like Edgar Allen Poe and Oscar Wilde over the centuries but I do feel there are more for children than adults, though that is understandable as they are an easy go-to for bed time reading.
Today as my celebration of short stories I wanted to share with just a few collections I have read and loved in my time as a reader. Recently there has been Under My Hat, a collection of stories about witches published by Hot Key and featuring incredible authors like Neil Gaiman, Holly Black and Garth Nix. I loved that the theme of witches ran through the book but that every story was still different.
Next up there was Blackberry Blue and other fairy tales by Jamila Gavin which was a collection from Tamarind, a Random House imprint, which explored fairy tales from other cultures rather than the ones already known so well in Britain. I loved glimpsing into a world that I wasn’t brought up with and the stories were incredible. While collaboration collections of short stories have you sampling a lot of different authors’ works, ones like this and The Kissing Game by Aidan Chambers give you an insight to one particular author and how varied their writing can be. The Kissing Game, published by Amulet, was possibly one of my favourite collections as it was written like flash fiction and I happen to be an admirer of that style of writing.
I have a copy of a collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s stories and as you may well know he was a huge fan of short stories. He claimed that a story should always be able to be read in one sitting and whilst I have been known to do that with 400 page plus books on particularly quiet weekends, it is far easier with a story of just 30-40 pages! I love The Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum, and love the sense of for boding you get from his work.
Poe’s work is often put together in collections of gothic horror and mystery and what I love most about short stories is how you can piece different ones together, from different authors, and gather such a variety of books. Neil Gaiman’s work for example can be found in short stories ranging from the humorous for children to the deep fantasy for adults. Garth Nix not only featured in Under My Hat but also in Geektastic, not published in the UK but able to import from the US, which was an incredible collection of short stories written for geeks, about geeks, by geeky authors.
Other collections I have known and loved include Christopher Priestley’s Tales of Terror series; a collection of short horror stories for the 9 to 12 age range from Bloomsbury and Truth and Dare; a series of edgy romance stories from well known YA romance writers including Luisa Plaja and Sarah Rees Brennan from Constable & Robinson. Short stories have the power to let authors give a glimpse of live for their secondary characters within novel series’ too and one such collection is Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate from Random House, which gives readers of the ‘Fallen’ series a chance to get a more personal feel for the characters who are in the background of Luce and Daniel’s story.
Of course not all short stories come in collections and one book read last week for me would definitely be classed as a short story, but not one to be missed out on! Tinder by Sally Gardner, published by Indigo, was just 160 pages long and was based on another short story by Hans Christian Andersen, who was also famed for his short stories and poems. It was an incredible read and will be padded out in the finished version with incredible images by David Roberts. Another recently read was Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger which gave the impression of a fairy tale and was also interspersed with images from the author.
I think I sometimes have to be in the right mood for short stories but they do often help me out of reading ruts and give me the chance to sample new authors who I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced so you can understand just why I love them as much as I do. If you have limited experience with collections then I would definitely recommend reading some, you never know who you may find out about.
If you want to know more about National Short Story Week you can do so by visiting the dedicate website here.