The Summer of Shorts…

No, despite the title of this post I do not plan on spending this summer wearing or collecting lots of varieties of shorts from Speedo’s to Bermuda’s – heaven forbid. However I do have some sort of plan for my reading this summer, in the main it is going to be short.

Hopefully I won’t be short on reading time, but it will have significantly less time to read this summer in particular as I am working on some small two month festival called the International Festival of Business 2014, which only has about 300 events running over the two months with an expected attendance of over 70,000 people and an aim to make £100,000,000 for the UK through future international trade and export! Phew, no pressure then. You may now see why my posting has been rather sporadic so far this year, the madness has been hitting since January.

Anyway, I am going to be working on the marketing and social media, with some lovely people, and most scarily event managing ten large events (some lasting 3-5 days) in one of the city’s most prestigious listed buildings The Cunard – seriously it’s stunning, see below – and so time as you might imagine will be scant.

Three Graces

So I had a thought and there were three options. One, I could just read what I would normally and get frustrated when it takes me ten times as long to read, snatching glances at it when I can. Two, I could just not read all summer, I know ‘as if’. Three, I could make it a positive and read shorter books, graphic novels, novella’s and short stories, expanding my reading of the sort of books I don’t read as often AND providing me with wonderful short but no less brilliant, and sometimes more condensed and masterful, works to devour when I can.


I oddly thought that I didn’t own very much ‘shorter’ fiction but having only the quickest scans of some of my shelves (I have had some shelf drama over the last week which I will share with you all soon) I found I was wrong. I am already excited about these, plus I remembered I had picked all those ‘new to me’ books from the library which will give me short introductions to some new and fingers crossed utterly marvellous writers and writing.

So I thought I would ask for your thoughts on shorter fiction; novellas and short stories. Are you a fan of shorter works and if so why or why not? Do you agree shorter works are sometimes the most potent of tales? Which short stories, anthologies, novellas or graphic novels would you recommend I read over the summer? Who else fancies dipping into some shorter works?


Filed under Random Savidgeness

14 responses to “The Summer of Shorts…

  1. Art of the Novella series from Melville House. You have to check it out. Great titles, lovely editions. The collecting urge can become a bit obsessive but I think you can handle that. 🙂

  2. kaggsysbookishramblings

    Anything short by Stefan Zweig is great. Or the complete Edgar Allan Poe!!

  3. Oddly I have come to the same conclusion. My MS is raging, and so short books are good just now.

    How about some quality children’s books? They are often short but wonderful reads:
    The Dark Is Rising Sequence (5 books) by Susan Cooper
    Smith by Leon Garfield
    Any books by David Walliams
    some of the lesser known Roald Dahl books
    Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (This has the most wonderful characters in it)
    Private – Keep Out! By Gwen Grant
    How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
    Any of the Clementine Beauvais books

    Also, you can’t go wrong with some Wodehouse, Christie, Simenon, Edmund Crispin or Chekov.

    The Burnt Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen
    Dolly by Susan Hill (gave me the creeps for weeks)
    Doppler by Erlend Loe
    The Whispering Muse by Sjon (I really enjoyed this, but if you read it can you explain it to me please? Not sure I got it all 😀 )
    The Book Of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa
    A Month In The Country by JL Carr
    Sawn Off Tales by David Gaffney (Flash fiction! Each story is about 300 words)
    The Howling Miller by Arto Paaslinna (One of the best things I have read in a long time)
    The Diamond As Big As The Ritz – F Scott Fitzgerald
    Periera Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi
    Down the rabbit hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos
    The Spies by Luis Fernando Verissimo

    I’ll stop there shall I?… Sorry, I got carried away 🙂

  4. I didn’t use to read short stories or novellas until about a year ago. Stefan Zweig is a favourite. I also enjoyed reading Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision and Tea at the Midlands by David Constantine.

  5. I love reading a short book after I finish a really long one. It’s a nice change of pace so I don’t get stuck in a reading rut.

    I would strongly recommend any of the fiction from NYRB for your summer of shorts. They curate their collections and I’ve rarely ever been disappointed.

    So exciting to be working on such cool work stuff though! That building is quite pretty!

  6. q

    congrats simon! john waters has fast and enthralling read, solo “role models’, real slide of life on other side of tracks, heartwarming at same time…and fast.
    or dorothy allison’s ‘one or two things i know for sure’…again, u won’t be able to put it down, brilliant, but ea chpt stands alone…
    have big big fun…

  7. I liked “The Beautiful Indifference” by Sarah Hall. Also you can’t go wrong with ‪”The Best American Short Stories‬” or Salt’s ‪”The Best British Short Stories” ‬anthologies.

  8. Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk is a good one. It has short stories chapters interspersed with a main narrative. They’re not instrumental to the plot, but add history and depth (among other things) to the characters.

    I loved Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger, but know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

    The last book of short stories i read was Communion Town by Sam Thompson. All the stories take place in the same fictional city. It was quite interesting.

  9. I love reading shorter literature in between longer books. If I had the stack you photographed for this post, I’d start with the one on top, because Deborah Levy’s Swimming Home was fabulous. A further suggestion is Tove Jansson’s Summer Book, which would also satisfy your quest for something Scandinavian (seconding @packabook’s suggestion).

  10. David

    Novellas I find I’m a bit on the fence about, those books of say, 80 to 180 pages. There are a few I’ve loved (“A Month in the Country” springs instantly to mind), but in general I find they lack the condensed power of a short story or the scope of a novel. Still, I always keep a supply on hand as, being an odd so-and-so, I don’t like books to run over from one month to the next so a novella that can be read in a day is often called for on the last day of the month.

    Short stories though I love. My affair with them began at the end of 2011 when I read Sarah Hall’s ‘The Beautiful Indifference’. At the time it was the first collection I’d read since about 2007 and I made it a new year’s resolution to read more short stories. I now (as I’ve probably mentioned several times before!) read one or two short stories every morning to start the day. Since Sarah Hall’s I’ve read getting on for 120 collections – it’s hard to know where to begin with recommendations, but a few (easily available ones) would be:

    ‘Redeployment’ by Phil Klay
    ‘The Garden Party’ by Katherine Mansfield
    ‘Great Dream of Heaven’ by Sam Shepard
    ‘Matters of Life & Death’ by Bernard MacLaverty
    ‘Something Like Happy’ by John Burnside
    ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’ by Raymond Carver
    ‘The UnAmericans’ by Molly Antopol
    ‘A Relative Stranger’ by Charles Baxter
    ‘Dream Stuff’ by David Malouf
    ‘Binocular Vision’ by Edith Perlman
    ‘Girl Trouble’ by Holly Goddard-Jones
    ‘The Loudest Sound & Nothing’ by Claire Wigfall
    ‘Once You Break A Knuckle’ by DW Wilson
    ‘Battleborn’ by Clair Vaye Watkins
    ‘A Permanent Member of the Family’ by Russell Banks
    ‘This Isn’t The Sort of Thing that Happens to Someone Like You’ by Jon McGregor
    ‘This is Not Your City’ by Caitlin Horrocks
    ‘The News from Spain’ by Joan Wickersham
    ‘Fools’ by Joan Silber
    ‘Dear Life’ by Alice Munro
    ‘The Heaven of Animals’ by David James Poissant
    ‘The Language of Others’ by Francesca Marciano

  11. Pingback: The Short & Short Of It Is… | Savidge Reads

  12. I really like novellas. Everything from Peirene Press that I’ve tried is excellent and the also fantastic & Other Stories fare tends to be on the shorter side too. And let’s not forget all the works of Amelie Nothomb, now you’ve finally tried one of her books!

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