Bookish Chat About: Short Story Collections

I’d never been much of a fan of short stories and before sitting down to type up this post I was wondering why that was?

The best explanation I can offer you guys is that I was always scared that I’d become invested in a story for it to abruptly end and leave me wanting. At least with a novel you can see how much of a story and reading experience you will have. I suppose the flip side to this thought is that if you are really not enjoying a story you can be safe in the knowledge that it will soon be at an end.

My thoughts on short story collections changed somewhat when I recently read two completely different sets of stories for blog tours. So I’ll talk briefly about those before moving on to show you some collections I’ve acquired recently and hope to get to very soon.

So the first collection I read for a blog tour was Help The Witch by Tom Cox. This book blew my mind. I read it in one sitting and just devoured it. Every story is unique and told in a variety of different writing styles. Creepy, funny, chilling, there’s something for everyone in this collection. A perfect autumn/winter/Halloween read that you can just hide under a blanket and get lost in. I made no secret of the fact that I loved this book and wanged on about it on the socials as I’ve a tendency to do when a book gets under my skin.

The next collection was The Word For Freedom also for a blog tour. I said yes to this one because I’d recently read Nevertheless She Persisted by Jon Walter and loved it and they are both based around the subject of the women’s sufferage movement. A subject I was woefully under educated about and quickly developed an interest in. This collection is an eclectic mix of historical and contemporary stories. Some emotive, some empowering and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

I have also since collating some more collections read this:

How The Light Gets In by Clare Fisher is a collection of contemporary stories about modern love and modern life. Some of these stories are super short, and I mean SUPER short, a paragraph or so. This was another book that I read in one binge sitting. I remember tweeting afterwards that I didn’t quite ‘get’ them all but I had enjoyed the collection nonetheless. And I think that’s ok isn’t it? As long as you enjoy the reading experience it doesn’t matter if you didn’t quite process everything you read. That’s what I think anyway!

Another book I have already dipped into is Don’t Look Now And Other Stories by the queen that is Daphne Du Maurier.

I saw this one in a charity shop sometime last year and couldn’t resist. I adore Daphers but have only ever read her novels. As I say, I’ve dipped into this one (mainly in the bath!) and can confirm that these stories are quietly sinister, and Daphne at her finest. (That cover aswell!).

Moving on now to the new books I have acquired recently:

First up we have The Rental Heart And Other Fairytales by Kirsty Logan, published by Salt. Now I make no secret of the fact that Salt are one of my favourite publishers. I recently ordered a couple of books from them to support their #justonebook campaign and they rather generously sent me this book as a gift in the package. I’d actually heard lots of good things about this one on booktube so I was thrilled to receive it. They are 20 tales of lust and loss and feature clockwork hearts, lascivious queens, paper men, Island circuses and a flooded world. I’m very excited by this one!

Then we have a beautiful book that the guys over at Vintage generously sent over to me. Ghost Stories by E.F Benson. I think this one needs very little by way of explanation. When I tweeted that I had it, there was a very positive response so I think I’m going to be in for a ghostly treat! Perfect reading for a winters evening.

I am very excited by the next collection. This one was my November subscription book from Mr B’s Emporium. Some of you may already know that for my 40th birthday this year I signed up for a book subscription service. I opted for the 6 month paperback choice and have had 3 books sent to me so far. The first being The Book Collector by Alice Thompson which I loved. So this is Things We Lost In The Fire by Mariana Enriquez published by Portobello Books. It is described as being 12 stories of ghosts, demons and wild women; of sharp toothed children and stolen skulls. I mean, how fab does that sound!

Next up we have the shiny foiled loveliness that is You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian published by Jonathan Cape. I requested a copy of this one from the publisher and they kindly sent me a proof. It’s due to be published on 7th February 2019 and is being described as ‘stories that make you feel fascinated but repelled, scared but delighted, revolted but aroused’. I am HERE for stories like that people! So exciting!

Due to all my chat about short stories on the socials, the lovely people over at Bristol Short Story Prize offered to send me their latest volume. And here it is:

It apparently features the stories of 20 dazzling writers and there is a little bit of background about each of the writers before their story, which I love the idea of. It’s nice to put a face and some detail to an authors name and of course their work.

The penultimate collection is the most beautiful. Probably the most stunning book I own. Just look at that cover!

This is Night-Gaunts by Joyce Carol Oates published by Head Zeus. I bought this from Hatchards when I was in London recently for a blogger event and my panel meeting for The Sunday Times Young Writer Of The Year Award. I must admit it’s a little pricier than I would normally spend on a book but I couldn’t resist. I’ve never read any Joyce Carol Oates but since tweeting a picture of this book have heard some great things. Apparently this is a collection of 6 stories revelling in the uncanny, standing at the crossroads of sex, violence, and longing. I’ll let you know my thoughts in due course!

And finally……you guys LOST YOUR MINDS when I mentioned on Twitter that Vintage had sent me my first Angela Carter book. I’ve never read any Carter before but it seems like you lot LOVE her! You were badgering me to tell you which book it was and most people guessed correctly…..

The Bloody Chamber is a collection of dark, sensual fantastic stories based in fairytale and legends. I have to admit that I have read the title story with my heart in my mouth! You were all correct in your effusive praise of Angela Carter’s writing. I have a feeling that I am going to love this one!

And that’s your lot! Phew!

Let me know if you have any other favourite collections of short stories that I really must read and I’ll be back soon to share my thoughts on the books I’ve mentioned here.

See you soon.

Bookish Chat. Xxx

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21 thoughts on “Bookish Chat About: Short Story Collections

  1. I’ve not read many – or any – short stories in years. I barely get through novels 😂 but I’ve been seeing short stories popping up more and more on my socials. Now you’ve given me so many choices to start. These books sound fab! Ghost Stories by Benson sounds so chilling and perfect for a winter night. I love that the Bristol Short Story Prize added in a bit of background on the authors, such a nice little addition. The Bloody Chamber sounds right up my alley and I’m debating breaking my book buying ban to get my hands on it! Great post!

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    1. Fab! Glad it’s given you some inspiration! Sorry if you break your book buying ban though! 😂. I think I might dip into a few of these collections today. I’m in a short story mood!

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  2. I adore short stories. They are my favourite form of storytelling. Some good collections I can recommend: Rusticles by Rebecca Gransden, The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell, Folk by Zoe Gilbert, and I’m currently about 80% through Fortune Box by Madeleine Swann and enjoying it very much. 🙂

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  3. I have come to love short stories more and more as I have got older. I do think there was probably a Golden age of short stories, those days when there were far more literary journals publishing well known writers short stories regularly. Those Daphne Du Maurier stories are fantastic and I shall have to add the E F Benson stories to my wishlist. Glad your first experience with Angela Carter was so positive. The Bloody Chamber was my first Angela Carter too.

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  4. I enjoy short stories, and used to read collections a lot years ago. Not so much recently. Don’t know what changed, but i love this post and your recommendations. I shall investigate these books further 😀

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  5. Fabulous post. I really want to read more shorts and loved the reviews you did for Help and The Word for Freedom…they’re on my wish list. I’m dipping in and out of Fen…they are bonkers but I really enjoy them x

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  6. Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber is one of my favourite short story collections. Enjoy! I’ll have to try and find some du Maurier short stories as I adore her novels, plus the movie Don’t Look Now gave me the creeps.

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  7. I’ve been reading a lot more short story collections lately – there are a lot here that interest me. I’d recommend Alice Munro and William Trevor if you are looking for more. Lovely new feature.

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  8. I’m a recent convert to short stories and you’ve highlighted some excellent choices. I’ve been meaning to read The Word for Freedom for ages and also The Bloody Chamber – I love Angela Carter! I was going to recommend Daphne du Maurier’s short story collections but I see you’ve already discovered them – there’s also The Birds and Other Stories which I’d highly recommend (and comes in a super beautiful VMC special edition if you want something posh for your bookshelf).

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  9. This has inspired me to bump Help the Witch up on my TBR. I bought it a while ago but haven’t got round to it. Not a huge fan of short stories myself but it sounds interesting.

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