20 Top Short Story Collections

Posted by Marie on February 27, 2018
Shakespeare once wrote "brevity is the soul of wit." Brevity is also the soul of the short story, which only has a small amount of space to resonate with a reader. We took a look at these mini but mighty powerhouses on Goodreads to bring you the best of the best. Don't forget to add your favorites to your Want to Read shelf.

For this round-up, we're defining short story collections as a series of short stories written by a single author. From there, we chose collections that have been added to Goodreads members' shelves more than 50,000 times and earned at least a four-star rating.

This list is by no means exhaustive, however. So please be sure to share your own recommendations in the comments.



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Who's your favorite short story author? Share it with us in the comments!

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Comments Showing 1-50 of 56 (56 new)


message 1: by Anastasi (new)

Anastasi My personal favorite is "Welcome to the Monkey House" by Kurt Vonnegut.


message 2: by Caroline (new)

Caroline It is a travesty that John Connolly and Ursula K. Le Guin could be missing from any list of excellent short story collections. They are both true masters of the form.

I absolutely cannot recommend enough Nocturnes and The Birthday of the World and Other Stories


message 3: by Keith (new)

Keith Labyrinths by Jorge Louis Borges - just amazing!!


message 4: by Brittany's (new)

Brittany's Pages Levar Burton Reads podcast read The Paper Managerie. I cried my eyes out.


message 5: by Fiona (last edited Feb 28, 2018 05:01AM) (new)

Fiona Hurley Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber is utterly brilliant. F. Scott Fitzgerald's short stories are perfect encapsulations of the Jazz Age (my favourite is The Diamond ad Big as the Ritz). Daphne du Maurier wrote some great shorts, especially Don't Look Now. Frank O'Connor has some lovely stories (I laughed out loud at First Confession).


message 6: by Christine (last edited Feb 28, 2018 07:39AM) (new)

Christine Close Range by Annie Proulx

Beautiful prose! I think it was five tales including Brokeback Mountain at the end.


message 7: by Craig (last edited Feb 28, 2018 10:48AM) (new)


message 8: by Sean (new)

Sean O “The Four Million,” by O. Henry is his best book. Fun tales about New York City at the turn of the century.

Also, lest we not forget, “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” is a classic for a reason.


message 9: by Morgan (new)

Morgan Love seeing Flannery O'Connor on this list. Most of these are on my to-read list actually. I would have added Virginia Woolf's A Haunted House and Other Stories as well.


message 11: by David (new)

David Rose I consider The Pieta in Ordinary Time: And Other Stories by William J. Cook to be the equal of any of these.


message 13: by Patrick (last edited Feb 28, 2018 08:36AM) (new)

Patrick McGrady Anastasi wrote: "My personal favorite is "Welcome to the Monkey House" by Kurt Vonnegut."

I could not agree more. Uncle Kurt was a masterful short story teller.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris

Dubliners by James Joyce???


message 14: by Monica (new)

Monica Here are two that I've read recently that should be on everyone's list:

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen


message 15: by Ami (new)

Ami A list with Chekhov & Kafka is good, whatever other titles are in.

Compilation I loved, and is not here, is Winesburg, Ohio, of Sherwood Anderson. Alice Monro is also worth reading.


message 16: by Rachel (new)

Rachel My favorite is Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman


message 17: by Dustin (new)

Dustin Covan North American Lake Monsters: Stories is definitely among my top story collections. Nathan Balingrud is amazing.


message 18: by Anuradha (new)

Anuradha Cherukuri My favorite writer of short stories is William Somerset Maugham.

Anuradha. C.


message 19: by Abdallah (new)

Abdallah Mohamud Anton Chekhov


message 20: by AGMaynard (new)

AGMaynard Try Alice Munro!


message 21: by Eric (new)

Eric McDowell One of my favorite collections is "Selected Short Stories: Guy de Maupassant." He was a master of the form!


message 22: by Andrea (last edited Feb 28, 2018 12:03PM) (new)

Andrea Polk I would replace the Martian Chronicles with Bradbury's The Illustrated Man. That book is my favorite collection of short stories I have ever read (although I have not found a single fault in any of his works). The Illustrated Man


message 23: by Doug (new)

Doug Hock The Short Stories of John Cheever, as well as any of the various collections of John O'Hara's short stories.


message 24: by Leah (new)

Leah Monica wrote: "Here are two that I've read recently that should be on everyone's list:

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah"


Yes!! Hers was one of my favorite collections read in 2017.


message 25: by Dana (new)


message 26: by Michael (new)

Michael Perkins Also, lest we forget, “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” is a classic for a reason."

I'm reading them again for the umpteenth time. TV & film have done their part in keeping the Holmes character alive, but Doyle's writing style has a contemporary feel to it that much 19th century lit simply doesn't. (Not that I don't like novels from that era).


message 27: by Silvia (new)

Silvia Dana wrote: "Should have added Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami."

Sadly, this book, like most of the other suggestions, doesn't meet the 4-star/50,000 review criteria.


message 28: by Evan (new)

Evan Quade Any short story collection that is by Ray Bradbury is the best set of short stories ever for a way of a matchless imagination. Every short story by Bradbury has no certain theme of what has been put together in a book, but always having different set directions of where we the readers are entering and what we become next as we read a story. How else did he come up with the Illustrated Man?


message 29: by Amit (new)

Tiwary Amit Tenth of December by George Saunders


message 30: by Kattermerrang (last edited Mar 01, 2018 02:14AM) (new)


message 31: by Ajona (new)

Ajona AGMaynard wrote: "Try Alice Munro!"

I second that. Munro is pure magic.


message 32: by Cameron (last edited Mar 01, 2018 04:21AM) (new)

Cameron Stefan Zweig - a short story/novella master, particularly from the perspective of a character's psychology.
I am closer to his short story characters than I am to hundreds of characters written by great novelists.


message 33: by Simon (new)

Simon Robs Denis Johnson's latest.


message 34: by David (new)

David Stinson And what about the Irish? John McGahern (Creatures of the Earth),
Edna O'Brien (The Love Object: Selected Stories), the brilliant Colm Toíbin (Mothers and Sons, The Empty Family), and the magnificent William Trevor (Collected Stories (2009) and Selected Stories (2010)


message 35: by Xavier (new)

Xavier Thank you for compiling such a great list! I added nearly all of these to my To-Read pile.


message 36: by Beth (last edited Mar 03, 2018 07:29AM) (new)

Beth The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories
There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales
ZOO
by Otsuichi,
Bus Driver who wanted to be God
Gogol
Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination by Rampo

These are excellent short story collections as well.


message 37: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Jgrace wrote: "Tenth of December by George Saunders

The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Lyndsay Faye

[book:Memory Wall..."


Thank you for including Anthony Doerr...brilliant writer; also, his The Shell Collector along with Memory Wall.

George Saunders...amazing as well.


message 38: by Leslie (new)

Leslie For those interested in another venue regarding short story/short fiction, you can search for The Story Project (TSP) which is a program through the New School in New York City. Reviews and awards authors annually, but is a good resource with postings about many of the authors who submit work (not just the 'winners'). This year's for a 2017 published work is Elizabeth Strout.
Folks can sign up for an email newsletter for free.


message 39: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Anything is Possible is the Strout title that won the highest honor of the 2017 Story Project award.


message 40: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Sorry, all...it is The Story Prize, not the Story Project.


message 41: by Kristin (last edited Mar 06, 2018 03:01PM) (new)

Kristin MB My favorite short story collections by a single author are:

--By Light We Knew Our Names by Anne Valente
--Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
--The Wilds by Julia Elliott


message 42: by Ben (new)

Ben Ostrander The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov,
The Collected Stories of Grace Paley,
The Stories of John Cheever,
John O'Hara,
Peter Taylor,
William Maxwell,
J.F. Powers...
are some of my favorites.


message 43: by Scott (new)

Scott Mintzer 10th of December, by George Saunders, is certainly one of the best story collections I've ever read. Honestly deserving of its renown.

And Anthony Doerr's first book, The Shell Collection, is just amazing (and truthfully far more affecting than All The Light We Cannot See).


message 44: by Charlie (new)

Charlie no Jack London?
To Build A Fire? -
I almost froze my ass off . . .


message 45: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Twenty is a short list, so there are bound to be favorites missing. Edna O'Brien comes to mind. However, to list only SIX by women out of TWENTY is unconscionable. Don't bother.


message 46: by Susan (new)

Susan Joseph My favorite short story writers are British writer Somerset Maugham, Canadian writer Alice Munro and Indian nobel prize winning author Rabindranath Tagore

Short Story Collections by Alice Munro: The View from Castle Rock, Lives of Girls and Women, Runaway, Who Do You Think You Are?

The Best Short Stories of William Somerset Maugham

Short Stories From Rabindranath Tagore


message 47: by Gilbert (new)

Gilbert O. Henry. Didn't he invent and nurture the art of the short story?


message 48: by Donna (new)

Donna Boucher Some of my favorite short story collections include: The Portable Dorothy Parker; 24 Stories by Willa Cather; The Muse's Tragedy and other Stories by Edith Wharton; The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen; The Complete Short Stories of D.H. Lawrence; The Maugham Reader; the short story collections of John O'Hara and John Cheever. I've been addicted to short stories since I was in high school in the 1960's.


message 49: by Charles (new)

Charles Marinaro Christine wrote: "Close Range by Annie Proulx

Beautiful prose! I think it was five tales including Brokeback Mountain at the end."


Always have loved Annie Proulx. Her heart-rending stories need to be on a list.


message 50: by Mark (new)

Mark Leslie wrote: "For those interested in another venue regarding short story/short fiction, you can search for The Story Project (TSP) which is a program through the New School in New York City. Reviews and awards ..."

Do you have a link? I couldn't find it.


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