Book Bingo: Short Stories

    – Posted by Andrea

Book Bingo Short StoriesThis summer The Seattle Public Library, in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures, is excited to offer a summer reading program for adults called Summer Book Bingo! In order to help you along on your quest to complete your bingo sheet, we have pulled together some book suggestions based on each category. Follow this series throughout the summer!

How’s your Summer Book Bingo reading coming along? Is your attention span, like the summer, beginning to wane? Well, reader, then it’s time for a collection of short stories. I love short story collections because you can read one story, set the book down for a few days, and then come back to it without worrying if you’ve forgotten the names of the characters because… you’re starting a new story! Also, they often fit perfectly into a lunch break. Here is a range of genres and styles to get you started:

Mia Alvar’s debut collection, In the Country, consists of nine portraits of Filipino immigrant experience, characters in constant motion as they try to figure out what “home” means. If you’re looking for unsparing yet beautiful writing, begin here.

Kelly Link writes slipstream fiction, which just means that her stories seem grounded in our reality and our world until, gradually, you realize that something is weird. For fans of fiction with interesting characters you want to know more about, plus fans of George Saunders, Karen Russell, and Aimee Bender. Why not start with her latest collection, Get in Trouble?

Of course, a collection of short stories doesn’t have to collect the work of just one author. Anthologies can be a fantastic way to find a variety of new writers. Take, for example, the Caine Prize for African Writing – every year they publish an anthology of excellent short stories by African writers writing in English. It’s one of the best ways to read new African voices. Check out the 2014 compilation, The Gonjon Pin and Other Stories, or wait for the 2015 edition, Lusaka Punk and Other Stories.

My favorite story collection from last year was Godforsaken Idaho by Shawn Vestal. I picked it up because it had Idaho, my home state, in the title, but I read the whole thing because it was fabulous. It consists of nine stories featuring Mormons, varied in subject and tone; the writing is excellent and the characters compelling, if not always likeable.

There are so, so many fantastic short story writers out there, from classics like Flannery O’Connor to the contemporary writers I’ve mentioned. Who are your favorites? Tell us in the comments or at #BookBingoNW. Check out this booklist for more ideas.

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