Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Five Faves - Story Collections

  A month long  blog event hosted by

Short stories are one of my favorite literary forms so for today's Five Faves by a Theme I decided to chose my favorite single author short story collections from my 2014 reads. I read a total of twenty-five.

Some stats:
I gave 5 Goodreads stars to nine of them; 4 stars to thirteen; 3 stars to none; 2 stars to three; 1 or 0 stars to none; left none unfinished.

Of the 25, thirteen were by men; twelve by women.

Ten were translations into English (original languages: Japanese [two], French, Korean, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Catalan, and Dutch).

One English language one was by a British author, the other fourteen were by Americans.

So here are my favorite five (in the order I read them):

Leaving the Sea: Stories by Ben Marcus
     Read in early January. Reading “Leaving the Sea” is like turning an imperfect underwater somersault. Everything feels right at first, and then something feels slightly out of kilter. You open your eyes, break the surface sideways, and are disoriented by the familiar.

 Battleborn by  Claire Vaye Watkins
     Read in late January. An outstanding debut collection. Watkins presents some interesting characters and situations: gold prospectors in the 1800s, a modern scavenger of misplaced fireworks, Manson cult members, young women in impossible relationships, lost tourists. The landscapes of Nevada and California are crucial elements in these stories.

 Snow in May: Stories by Kseniya Melnik
    Read in mid March. Most of the nine stories in this collection are set in the port town of Magadan in the far east of Russia. This is a superb collection from a talented young author who was born in Magadan and who immigrated to Alaska as a teenager.

 One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak
    Read in mid April. Cristo designs a roller coaster, Johnny Depp performs a daring act for a tourist bus, John Grisham has a title crisis, and on it goes. Dating, family trips, closure, sex robots, friendship, the gifted all get their turn in this fun collection.

Piano Stories by  Felisberto Hernández; Luis Harss (Translation), Italo Calvino (Introduction), Francine Prose (Preface)
    Read in June. Wonderful, magical, confusing, mysterious, thought provoking: everything I love in a story collection.
I also read three multiple author anthologies, listened to one multi author/multi reader audio book (my only audio book for the year), read one graphic rendition of Kafka stories, and read a bunch of short stories online. And, because of their nature, I always have several collections going at the same time: some on my Kindle for reading in waiting rooms, one by my bedside, some to read between longer works.

Do you read short stories? What were your favorites in 2014?


  1. YOU are my new hero! I love short stories, and so few people do. I haven't read any of these, but I have Leaving the Sea on my hulking TBR. So far this year, my favorite collection is Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich. :)

    1. I've been wanting to read Spoiled Brats, glad to hear a recommendation for it.

  2. I adore short story collections (and anthologies) and my one reading regret this year is not reading them more. Do you follow The Short Story prize? I really wanted to read some books by the finalists.

    1. I don't really follow the short story prize. I do like th Best short story collections. And I'm going crazy with Akashic Books Noir series.

  3. I agree with Andi: I love short stories and I regret that so few people feel the same. With my now previous blog in French, I've organized five months dedicated to short stories' reading in two years with the hope to give the taste of them to others (and I has worked quite well).

    I've read none of the collections you mention but I've noted Leaving the Sea and Piano Stories. Thank you!

    (Sheer curiosity: which was the collection translated from the French you've read?)

    1. All My Friends by Marie NDiaye, Jordan Stump (Translation) publ in 2013 by Two Lines Pres, Original title: Tous mes amis, publ in 2004 by Minuit. A wonderful collection (5 stars)

    2. Thanks for your answer. I've never read Marie NDiaye *shame* ;)

  4. I don't usually read story collections, so this is a good list to refer to. Thanks! ~Bellezza of dolcebellezza.net

    1. I had a rough time narrowing this list down to five.