Most interesting short story collections to read in 2021

Best short stories to read in 2020

Looking for a quick read? This handy list comprises 13 most interesting new short story and anthology releases based on customer and critics reviews, popularity, and our own taste.

Last year was a literary feast for book lovers so far – with great releases such as T. J. Reid’s intoxicating read Daisy Jones & The Six or a brilliant page-turner The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, writers have been cosseting us this past half a year.

But if you’ve already devoured all the best new book releases and still have a ravenous appetite for brilliant literature, look no further – most interesting short story and anthology releases are here.

This year, we’ve searched Goodreads and Amazon for the best and most interesting brand new releases. The list is very diverse to fit every preference. There’s world literature, with brilliantly unique Polish, Japanese and Italian authors. There’s sci-fi, thriller, dark humor and mystery. There’s reflections on God, artificial intelligence, and race and class.

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But what unites all these titles is that they all addict, engross and absorb.

A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film.

– Lorrie Moore

Here are some of the best short stories you can read in 2020 so far. Scroll down to find out which titles made the cut.

If there is any book you’d like to add to the list? Make sure to reach us on social media and share your recommendations!

Best short stories 2020 - ultimate list

Why read short stories?

Having not enough time to commit to reading a weighty tome is one of the major reasons why so many people ditch books.

But little do they know a well-written short story will make them feel the same thrill, experience the same attachment to the characters and spark as much love to reading as a normal book would.

You can read them whenever and wherever you want – on a commute back home from work, during an evening bath, in the waiting room at the dentist.

Need more reasons to reach for a short story? We’ve got a handy list with the benefits of short stories.

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Best short stories and collections in 2020

The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories

Best short stories released this year - The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories

Edited by Jhumpa Lahiri

Forty short stories bring together forty, seemingly disconnected, Italian writers. There are authors even non-Italian readers might be familiar with – Italo Calvino, Primo Levi; but there are also many refreshingly new discoveries, translated into English by Pulitzer Prize winner and editor of this brilliant compilation, Jhumpa Lahiri herself.

Written by poets and journalists, visual artists and musicians, editors, critics and teachers, this brilliantly selected anthology strikes with its array – but while so various, this landmark anthology manages to remain uniquely coherent, painting a dynamic cross-section of the Italian society.

This selection of works sparked a love for Italian literature in Lahiri herself – and will captivate you too.

Category: Italian Literature
Length: 467 pages

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

Fly Already: Stories

Best short stories to read in 2019 - Fly Already – Etgar Keret

Etgar Keret

Israeli writer Etgar Keret has already established himself as an author with a uniquely distinct style.

His works are both humorous and cynical, sweet-hearted and dark, laugh-out-loud funny and eloquent, but above all – exceptionally understanding. Located somewhere on the intersection of the fantastical, the intense and the rib-tickling, they engage in both the familiar and the surreal, making hilarity and humanity criss-cross.

This brilliant anthology entertains, teaches and stimulates in a way only Keret’s stories can.

Category: Humorous Literary Fiction, Dark Humor
Length: 224 pages

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

The Cyberiad: Stories

Best sci-fi short stories - The Cyberiad – Stanislaw Lem

Stanisław Lem

This unique (and our personal favorite!) anthology features short, quick-to-read sci-fi stories written by a sci-fi genius Stanisław Lem, already beloved in Poland.

Now, thanks to the brilliant translation by Michael Kandel, it slowly begins to enchant the rest of the world with its refreshingly witty humor, genuine and likable characters, a perfect blend between satire and farce, and clever wordplay.

Though originally published in 1965, it touches upon issues that are highly relevant today – such as AI, fear of technology and fascination with it, and the ethics of innovation.

The compilation follows the story of two robots, Trurl and Klapaucius, who are both creative and skillful constructors, preoccupied mainly with creating new worlds and saving problems of other machines. They have, however, so much humanity in them, that it is sometimes easy to forget that they are not human. But one thing’s for sure – they are very likable.

Category: Humorous Science Fiction
Length: 314 pages

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

The O. Henry Prize Stories 2018

Best short stories to read - The O. Henry Prize Stories

Edited by Laura Furman

This respected yearly anthology comprises the absolute best of the best twenty prize-winning short stories of 2018.

They are carefully selected to include the perfect blend between established writers and emerging fresh voices. While so various, all the chosen stories have one thing in common – they are absolutely exceptional.

The annual O. Henry Award honors high-quality short reads of exceptional merit and is accompanied by essays written by renowned jurors – Fiona McFarlane, Ottessa Moshfegh, Elizabeth Tallent – on their personal favorites from the selection.

Category: American Literature Anthologies
Length: 414 pages

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

Catastrophe: And Other Stories

Most interesting short story anthologies - Catastrophe – Dino Buzzati

Dino Buzzati

Catastrophe: And Other Stories comprises twenty of the best stories by Dino Buzzati, an Italian renowned author often compared to Kafka or Edgar Allan Poe.

The anthology explores delicate psychologies in an uncanny and slightly nightmarish manner, just like that out of a Gothic tale. It strikes with surreality, lyricism and poignance; enchants with the unique taste for the bizarre, frightens with disturbing visions of a quiet collapse of our world.

“The Epidemic” traces the gradual effects of state influenza that targets those who dare to disagree with the government. “Seven Floors” follows a sanatorium where patients are classified according to the gravity of their illness.

All stories share the same slightly gloomy atmosphere and paranoia-stricken characters, dark humor and absurdity.

If you are a Kafka or Borges devotee, this is the next read for you.

Category: Psychological Literary Fiction
Length: 222 pages

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

The Best American Short Stories 2019

The Best American Short Stories 2019 - release date in October

Edited by Anthony Doerr and Heidi Pitlor

What do Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, and T. C. Boyle have in common?

They all have been guest editors of the iconic The Best American Short Stories annual anthology.

This year, Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author Anthony Doerr and editor Heidi Pitlor will be in charge of carefully winnowing down twenty excellent stories out of thousands published the previous year.

Category: American Literature Anthologies
Length: 400 pages

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

Close to the Bone

Best-selling short stories - Close to the Bone – Kendra Elliot

Kendra Elliot

FBI Special Agent Cate Wilde returns to her childhood home to heal from a wound and take a break from work. But her vacation is quickly disrupted when a teenager’s skeleton is found on a nearby island.

She is paired up with childhood friend-turned-deputy Tessa Black to dismantle the mystery. But the case is strikingly similar to the one twenty years ago they tried so hard to let go of when their good friend Samantha vanished without a trace. Will they manage to overcome the nagging memories from the past and solve the case?

Kendra Elliott is a frequent lander on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list, and among the most promising page-turner authors.

Close To The Bone is perfect for a quick, hour-long gripping read.

Category: Kindle Singles
Length: 83 pages

⇢ Kindle

Japanese Ghost Stories: Penguin Classics

Japanese Ghost Stories from Penguin Classics

Lafcadio Hearn, edited by Paul Murray

The synopsis of this yet-to-be-published anthology reads:

The dead wreak revenge on the living, paintings come alive, spectral brides possess mortal men and a priest devours human flesh in these chilling Japanese ghost stories retold by a master of the supernatural. Lafcadio Hearn drew on the phantoms and ghouls of traditional Japanese folklore – including the headless ‘rokuro-kubi’, the monstrous goblins ‘jikininki’ or the faceless ‘mujina’ who stalk lonely neighbourhoods – and infused them with his own memories of his haunted childhood in nineteenth-century Ireland to create these terrifying tales of striking and eerie power. Today they are regarded in Japan as classics in their own right.

Category: Classic Short Stories
Length:247 pages

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

Uncommon Type: Some Stories

The Sunday Times bestseller - Uncommon Type – Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks

Yes, you read the name of the author right. This anthology is brought to you by Tom Hanks himself who does what he’s proven to do best – evokes emotion. But this time, instead of on screen, he does it on paper.

This delightfully intelligent and wonderfully heartwarming debut collection of seventeen short stories is like a literary box of chocolates – there’s a fun surprise waiting for you on every page.

Hanks impresses with the stylistic flair, evocativeness, and soft-heartedness, but, above all, his authenticity. Entertaining parts are combined with more serious reflections on human nature, making it a very high-quality read.

The best part? The audiobook is narrated by none other than the author himself.

Category: US Short Stories
Length: 415 pages

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Audiobook

Exhalation: Stories

Incredible short stories - Exhalation – Ted Chiang

Ted Chiang

In this incredibly well-written collection of nine original and poignant stories, Ted Chiang makes theology and philosophy meet, asking some of humanity’s oldest questions.

“Exhalation” features an alien scientist who makes a shocking discovery with literally universal consequences. “The Merchant of the Alchemist’s Gate” follows a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad who goes through a portal in time to grapple with past mistakes that haunt him.

With its striking imaginativeness and great understanding of humanity, this anthology is guaranteed to do three things: unsettle, stimulate and reflect. What it will not do is leave you disappointed.

Category: Science Fiction Short Stories
Length: 368 pages

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

A Lucky Man: Stories

Best short story collections - A Lucky Man – Jamel Brinkley

Jamel Brinkley

Brought by master storyteller Jamel Brinkley, this anthology of nine powerful stories set in Brooklyn and The Bronx follows fathers and sons who attempt to redeem past mistakes and mend their relationships with family members. It brilliantly explores issues such as power and privilege, race and class, fidelity, family and manhood.

Even though A Lucky Man tackles such heavy topics, the writing is lyrical, thrilling and flavorful, the characters – interesting in their complexity, and the imagery – rich and vivid.

Category: African American Literary Fiction
Length:262 pages

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print


Best women's short stories - Florida – Lauren Groff

Lauren Groff

Take a deep dive into Florida’s wonder and culture with this exceptionally well-written anthology.

Each short story is set in the Sunshine State, and through wonderfully rich descriptions conveys the sounds, smells, sensations and tastes familiar to all those who have ever been to Florida.

Dark, mysterious and emotionally intense, this book will break your heart time and time again, and stimulate your mind even more often. But, above all, Florida will enchant.

Category: Women’s Short Stories
Length: 288 pages

⇢ Kindle ⇢ Print

What Child Is This

Amazon Original Stories - What Child Is This – Rhys Bowen

Rhys Bowen

London, 1940, Christmas Eve. Jack and Maggie Harris, a happily married couple, are forced to leave their home when the London Blitz strikes. Left with nowhere to go and nothing to lose, they take shelter in a seemingly abandoned mansion – little do they know a little someone already lives there…

Written by the New York Times bestselling author of chart-toppers such as The Tuscan Child or In Farleigh Field, this quick 90-minute read is a bittersweet but heartwarming tale that will let you hold on to the Christmas spirit just a little longer.

Category: 90-Minute Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Short Reads, Historical Mystery
Length: 49 pages

⇢ Kindle

Where to find short stories and short story anthologies?

Kindle Singles – books are carefully selected by Amazon editors. You can find here not only short stories or novellas, but also non-fiction.

Kindle Short Reads – Amazon describes them as “great stories in one sitting.” The books are grouped according to their reading time: from 15-minute to 2-hour reads.

Nook Snaps – Barnes & Noble’s selection of exclusive quick reads includes short stories and long-form journalism from the “most compelling voices.”

Kobo Exclusive Shorts – Kobo’s initiative to benefit from the revival of short-form reading. So far, the list includes around 100 titles.

Keep exploring. Here are other popular lists to consider:

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