I’m approaching the three-year anniversary of starting my habit of reading a short story every day. I’ve read over 1000 stories. To be honest, I don’t manage to read one absolutely every day; I don’t treat it like homework. There are days when I’m just not feeling it, or I’m engrossed in a novel.
I am still enjoying the stories, and have no plans to stop, well, ever. It’s not as though I’m going to run out of material! If you’d like to see what I’ve read so far, feel free to check out my spreadsheet.
Rae’s Reading reached out on Twitter and asked a wonderful question: where the heck am I finding the stories I read? The quick answer is, a variety of places. If you are interested in reading more short fiction, here are some places you may find your next favorite writer or genre.
“When I got my library card, that’s when my life began.”Rita Mae Brown
Oh my word, let’s talk about libraries. They are everywhere, they are staffed by amazing people, and they have books, that you can take home, for free. My local library, Torrance Public Library, re-opens next week, and I’m just going to spend an hour lying down in the short story section, crying.
Great libraries have their own, well-stocked section of short stories. If not, ask a member of staff to help you find the good ones. You can find your nearest library here.
And, you don’t even need to leave your house to access all the amazing things your local library has to offer. With services such as Hoopla, Libby, BorrowBox, you can get books on your phone, computer, or e-reader at the touch of a button. Check out your library’s website to see which services they offer, or ask your trusty librarian!
Podcasts are tricky, as it’s difficult to know which ones are worth your time. There are just so many. These are the ones I enjoy, but if anyone has any others they would recommend, please let me know.
- Levar Burton Reads – actor and all-round good egg reads a short story per episode, covering a variety of genres. He has a gorgeous voice, and the stories are often obscure but beautiful. My personal recent favorite story was Jump, by Cadwell Turnbull.
- Backlisted – this is more a discussion about books, rather than readings. However, the hosts, John Mitchinson and Andy Miller, are highly knowledgable about pretty much all things literary, and you’ll come away from each episode with a list a mile long of authors you’d like to explore. Their episode on ZZ Packer’s short story collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, is a great place to start.
- Uncanny Magazine Podcast – contains stories from the fantastic literary magazine, Uncanny. A wealth of new and established writers are published in this magazine, so there is a lot of stuff to get excited about.
- Short Story – I’m begrudgingly including this, because it looks like it’s no longer available in the US. But it is worth a listen, because each September, they include the nominees for the BBC National Short Story Award, a highlight of my literary year. If you’re able to access the stories, I suggest you check out last year’s winner, The Grotesques by Sarah Hall.
Literary Magazines and Journals
Before I started this whole adventure, I had no idea how many amazing literary magazines are out there. And while you can read some of the content for free online, I much prefer to subscribe directly to the magazine, through sites like Patreon, and read them on my Kindle.
Here is a list of my favorites. Most of these offer a digital subscription for mere dollars per issue. Totally worth it.
I’m very lucky that I’ve been able to build a personal library of which I’m incredibly proud. But I rarely spend more than $10 on a book, unless it’s something rare/old that I really want.
I use Abebooks very frequently, as well as Book Outlet, and Thrift Books. And I still use Amazon for cheap Kindle books. I try to avoid Amazon where I can, either buying through indie bookstores, such as Powell’s City of Books, or directly from the publisher. Some indie publishers also offer ebooks for a few bucks. Check out Undertow, Unsung Stories, Journalstone, or Weightless Books.
Think about who your favorite authors are. I can pretty much guarantee they’ve written some short fiction at some point. Take a look! There are so many exciting stories out there. There is a true art to writing a short story, and I find myself thinking about my favorite stories all the time.
Personally, my current favorites are Karen Russell, Flannery O’Connor, Shirley Jackson, Samanta Schweblin, Mariana Enriquez, and Amanda O’Callaghan, to name but a few. I personally prefer to read writers who identify as female, and that’s a preference I’ve discovered in the past few years. And you’ll find your own as well.
I could go on and on about this, but I definitely recommend getting into the world of short stories. It’s brought me an immense amount of pleasure, and hugely widened my literary horizons.