Reading has been one of the hobbies that never left my side. As soon as I had learned to read, I’d be found in our elementary school library. At age 9 I had already finished every book of interest in the library and moved to the children’s section in the public library of our city, tagging along with my dad who visited it almost on a weekly basis(I guess it’s not hard to tell where this passion came from). At age 14 I was reading an average of 6 books every 3 weeks(max loan period, and max number of books to loan at a time) a period that lasted for nearly 2 years, and at age 17 I permanently switched to reading English books only. That being said, I also had my quiet period, for a couple of years I only read a few books, college or University were too time consuming. In this period I started reading fan-fiction, short stories based upon and exploring the worlds of existing movies or franchises. They were my literature fix, and quite an easy one at that because more often than not, they were easy enough to read within a short time span, something that I needed for the limited time I had available. I know for some fan-fiction comes with a certain, obsessed fangirl image. I know those are out there too, but what I liked most (and still sometimes do) about fan-fiction is that it continues where the book, movie or television series left of. It gives you an opportunity to return to that world and enjoy the world and characters the original author had build up in the first place(and mind you, some fan-fiction authors are better than some professional writers out there). But this post isn’t about fan-fiction. It’s about short stories.
I never really got in contact with short stories, my usual strategy in the library was to find the most interesting book, and preferable the one with the most pages too(I’m talking +1000 pages here). And I never really picked up a short-stories book until I was in Singapore a couple of years ago. After that I quickly realised that, short stories have this amazing ability to transport you quickly into the fictional world, but keep you there only for a limited time. Against normal stories which could keep you there for atleast a couple of hours. Ontop of that I have this problem with books. I can’t put them away if I’m reading in bed, I’ll just keep reading until the last page(Like I used to do when I was 14) even if it means I’ll only get 2 hours of sleep. (And no, I would never, under normal circumstances, fall asleep while reading a book!)
Short stories however, are the perfect thing to read before going to bed! You get the nice satisfied post-reading state which makes falling asleep quite easily but you don’t have to go through more than a couple of pages to get to the end of the story. The book I found in Singapore, holds a few of my favourite short-stories and is still my most favourite short-story collection.
So if you have never tried short stories, or, if you love them and would like more, here are some recommendations! =)
Stories to get you through the night
This is the one I found in Singapore and it’s the only book that has a permanent residence on my night stand. The book sorts the short stories in several categories:
– Stories to make you glad to be alive
– Stories to send a shiver down your spine
– Stories to help you rejoice the beauty of nature
– Stories to read when it’s all going wrong
– Stories to intrigue and excite
– Stories to remind you love conquers all
– And stories to celebrate the joys of growing old
Which makes picking out a story for a mood that fits the one you’re looking for is so much easier! I’ve heard quite a few people complain that there’s nothing unifying the stories but I think a short story book like this, doesn’t need to. The book is not made to be read in one go but one story at a time(which I think, is what short story collections always should be about). One of my favourite stories is in the stories to read when it’s all going wrong section. A story called Charm for a friend with a lump by Helen Simpson. The story is not your usual way of reading, and it doesn’t really transport you into another world but yet it does take you away. It’s a story that leaves you hopeful and calm at the end, knowing that everything will be okay. It’s also the story I’ve read so often whenever I couldn’t sleep, that I know it by heart.
Of course there are millions of short stories out there, all with different genre’s. But I usually like my short stories within the fantasy-like realm and give me either a nice and calm mood or a more contemplative mood. Charm for a friend with a lump is not exactly fantasy… but in a way it’s very fantasy-like, it reads like the author is talking directly to you and tells you to imagine certain things.
It doesn’t matter where I go or live, this book will definitely always be next to my bed.
Just so stories
Just so stories are stories I found when browsing the internet before even finding Stories to get you through the night on this website (last updated in 2001, and still looks like that too!), and I frankly don’t remember how I ever ended up there in the first place. You can read quite a few of the short stories there, including my all time favourite “The cat that walked by himself“. The book was first published in 1902 and written by Rudyard Kipling(also the author of The Junge Book). Even as an adult(or maybe, especially as an adult!) it’s a lovely read. (I generally find that a lot of good children’s books and stories are usually only more interesting and enjoyable when read at an older age). Most of the stories deal with how the world(or animals) came to be. Last year, during a short trip to the South of England I stumbled across an old second hand market hall in Tavistock. I browsed around for a while until my eye fell on an exact copy of the book you see in the picture, the first edition of Just so stories! Obviously, as a booklover I was absolutely delighted! Aside from the stories the book also holds some beautiful illustrations.
So yeah, so far for the first book recommendation on here! Expect more to come in the future =) In the meantime, tell me, do you have any short stories(or books) that you absolutely adore? Or have you read either of these books? What did you think?