On Our Shelves: 45 Favorite Short Story Collections

By posted at 3:47 pm on February 22, 2008 23

To wrap up Short Story Week here at The Millions, we conducted an informal poll of our contributors, asking them to name their favorite English-language short story collections. The results form a kind of subjective bibliography, a personal pantheon of 45 favorite collections. We’ve added links to our blurbs and reviews where appropriate. We hope this list will be useful, or at least interesting; feel free to add your own picks, and blurbs, in the comments box below.

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23 Responses to “On Our Shelves: 45 Favorite Short Story Collections”

  1. Nanci
    at 4:24 pm on February 22, 2008

    Thanks for the great list! The recent Hollywood writer's strike, brought up 'back' to the Library…it's always better to have a good book then a TV remote.

  2. Emily Colette Wilkinson
    at 5:51 pm on February 22, 2008

    Do you think that the Sherlock Holmes stories count? Sort of their own thing I suppose.

  3. Anonymous
    at 6:56 am on February 23, 2008

    That's a great list but you left off my very favorite:

    "The Complete Stories" Flannery O'Connor

  4. Anonymous
    at 6:58 am on February 23, 2008

    I have very fond memories of reading short story collections when I was a kid. Thanks for the list and reminding me about this great literary form.

  5. Edan Lepucki
    at 9:38 am on February 23, 2008

    I second some recommendations here! But I hated the ZZ Packer collection, except perhaps for "Brownies"…

  6. Laurie
    at 10:41 am on February 23, 2008

    Sherlock Holmes stories ought to count.

    If they do, then so should Collected Stories by Rudyard Kipling and The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. (Exotic adventure with a little poetry may be old-fashioned, but it still makes for a good read.)

    O. Henry should be in there, too.

  7. Terry Finley
    at 12:10 pm on February 23, 2008

    What a great collection.
    I second Hemingway.
    He is my hero.

    Terry Finley

  8. jdc.
    at 10:48 pm on February 23, 2008

    Great list, but missing my two favorites:
    — "We're in Trouble" by Christopher Coake
    — "Dead Fish Museum" by Charles D'Ambrosio


  9. springer
    at 12:06 am on February 24, 2008

    No one mentioned Borges? Fine, I'll do it.

  10. AliciaABeale
    at 12:17 am on February 24, 2008

    The list is pretty solid, especially with the great add of the horribly undervalued Susan Straight. She's an amazing amazing writer.

  11. Jonathan S.
    at 1:38 pm on February 25, 2008

    Ack! No Sherman Alexie? No Thom Jones? No Tobias Wolff?

  12. Warren Adler
    at 2:47 pm on February 26, 2008

    I am with the Hemingway fans. He is my favorite short story writer. His tight, short wonders have delighted me since I first read them as a teenager. "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" and "Up in Michigan" are perfect examples of great short stories. I have also discovered through my two annual short story contests that the form is getting more and more attention and, judging by the recent entries to the "Warren Adler Short Story Contest," I have become convinced that there are many extremely talented short story practitioners out there just waiting for a larger market to open up. I have always loved the form and my fifth collection New York Echoes has just been released.

  13. Tania Hershman
    at 5:32 am on March 4, 2008

    A great list! Delighted to see Aimee Bender, Lorrie Moore, George Saunders and Diane Williams on that list, some of my personal favourites.
    We have reviewed two of those collections on The Short Review:
    * The Collected Stories by Katherine Mansfield
    * Self-Help, by Lorrie Moore

    There are some titles that are new to me, thanks so much for the recommendations.

    Editor, The Short Review

  14. clowz_8
    at 8:21 pm on March 15, 2008

    thanks a lot,,,:]

  15. Sandra
    at 11:00 am on May 14, 2008

    My latest favourite is the stunning
    Like You'd Understand, Anyway, by Jim Shepard.

  16. Anonymous
    at 10:17 pm on June 15, 2009

    Don't forget The Collected Stories of Richard Yates and First Love and Other Sorrows, Harold Brodkey. Also, Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich. And the wonderful Andre Dubus.

  17. Johnnie Ruffin
    at 4:06 pm on August 29, 2010

    I would suggest The Science Fiction Century, Volume 2 as one of the best collections…and I agree, where are the Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.

  18. Jim Pelt
    at 8:57 am on February 10, 2012

    Love the list, but I would add a few more titles, like “The Elephant Vanishes” by Haruki Murakami, who writes in his own, unique style. I alsko liked “Windowjumpers” by Joel Strivewell and Chuck Palahniuk’s “Haunted”, which isn’t exactly a short story collection by definition, but rather 23 stories combained in a novel – something like a modern day “Decameron”

  19. Brooks Hays
    at 10:11 pm on December 21, 2014

    Why is Barry Hannah’s “Airships” never included on these lists? Probably the most under appreciated collection from the 20th century.

  20. C B
    at 1:51 am on July 15, 2015

    T.C. Boyle! I pick up his Stories Volumes 1 &2 whenever I can’t pick between the billion books I want to read. They never disappoint! Often stunning, memorable, perfect. I’ve read a few of the oldest stories recently – amazing.

    Other omissions: Flannery O’ Connor, Adam Johnson’s Emporium, Karen Russell

    I know this is an old list, but I recently enjoyed Kelly Link’s ‘Get In Trouble’ so I imagine the other collections are worth picking up. SO many to choose… I might have to pick that Boyle Stories collection back up again.

  21. Evelyn Walsh
    at 8:38 pm on November 7, 2015

    Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones (glad to see Aunt Hagar here), agree re: FOC. The China Factory by Mary Costello and Dinosaurs on Other Planets, just published in Ireland last month and coming stateside next year.

    Hawthorne! De Mapaussant! Collette! Mary Lavin!

    I would also make a case for some really great anthologies– the Oxford Book of Short Stories edited by VS Pritchett got me hooked on the short story as a teenager. Pritchett’s story Many Are Disappointed, AE Coppard’s story The Mustard Field and Mary Lavin’s MY Vocation among many many others.

  22. Evelyn Walsh
    at 8:44 pm on November 7, 2015

    oh yes, Mansfield. So so many. And Charles Baxter’s story Gryphon just kills me. Salinger. Also very fond of Wilde’s stories for children– Selfish Giant etc, if you would consider including them here. Seán ´O’Faoláin, Frank O’Connor, Think I may prefer Updike’s short stories to his novels, actually– but not adequately well read with him to make a case for this. Bradbury, Wolff, Dubus, yes. Shepard. Baldwin.

  23. Evelyn Walsh
    at 10:36 am on November 10, 2015

    still obsessing. Chabon’s short stories are splendid– Son of the Wolfman and House Hunting are two of my most beloved. I really liked The Whore’s Child by Richard Russo, too.

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