Someone, somewhere, has designated May as “Get Caught Reading Month.” This fact is mostly an excuse for me to once again indulge in my not-so-secret plan to turn MUSE into a reading blog, but since it’s timely and all, I couldn’t not, right? Especially since I think it can be hard to find short stories on your own, as the genre hasn’t really made its way into pop culture, here is a media curation of short yet fascinating, fun yet thought-provoking reading pieces.
Short Story Playlist: Long Story Short…
“The Egg” by Andy Weir (Link)
This may just be my favorite short story of all time; I get goosebumps every single time I read or even listen to it.
“The Garden of Forking Paths” by Jorge Luis Borges (Link)
Although some short stories can be unsatisfying with regards to plot, this story probably has a better developed plot than most novels I’ve read, as everything ties intricately and neatly together in the end. Borges seems to excel at plot in short stories; if you find yourself interested, I’d also suggest his “Death and the Compass,” a fascinating murder mystery compressed into a few pages.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Link)
Although I’d never heard of this before my friend recommended it, after reading it, I’ve been seeing mentions of it everywhere. It’s definitely a landmark short story particularly as a part of early American feminist literature.
“The Imitation of the Rose” by Clarice Lispector
Funnily enough, while searching (and unfortunately failing) for this story’s online PDF to link here, I saw an analysis that said this has a lot of similar themes to “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Although I didn’t personally make the connection when first reading the story, I can see it now, especially as both tell the story of a confined housewife in the hold of mental illness. Yet I actually enjoyed this quite a bit more than “The Yellow Wallpaper,” as I loved the craft with which Lispector walks the fine line between magical and realism, and the writing is beautiful. While a lot happens, nothing really does either; a delicate, muted claustrophobia cloaks the reading experience.
“The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka (Link)
A must-read, considering how the adjective Kafkaesque has made its way into the dictionary.
“The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe (Link)
Would this really be a short story recommendations list without a story by Poe? A pioneer of the short story medium, Poe’s writing is all fascinating, and in the particular case of “The Cask of Amontillado,” I actually found it to be funny in an ironic way, along with, of course, a side of spooky madness.
“This is Pleasure” by Mary Gaitskill (Link)
This story delves into the #MeToo movement from a very different perspective—from the accused man, and a woman who is friends with the man. I liked (hated?) how the characters felt so despicably genuine; it didn’t feel like I was reading Gaitskill writing about someone, it felt like I was seeing into a person’s real mind.
“Hills like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway (Link)
Short and sweet and subtle.
“The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury (Link)
Everyone read this in sixth grade or something, so this isn’t so much a recommendation as much as a sign you should go reread it right now. Maybe it’s precisely because I read it during the formative years of middle school, but I swear I find myself thinking about it at least once a month. Bradbury’s short stories are so powerful.
Although I never really sought out short stories for fun before this year, I’m quite glad I started. Short stories can get a lot more nuanced than a novel, and every detail must be deliberately crafted, given the length of the medium. They are also a great form of creative inspiration, quick to read yet packed chock-full with food for thought. Hope you can enjoy these recommendations as much as I did!
On this blog, Shruthi Ravichandran and Grace Xu provide monthly curations of all types of arts and media, from TV shows to music to novels and even YouTubers. On top of mood-oriented playlists, there’s also the occasional rant-filled review. They hope readers will always leave with a new piece of media to muse over. Click here to read more from MUSE.