For days when a long drawn novel feels like too much of a commitment, short story collections come to the rescue. Intensely packed with literary brilliance in a short quantity, they have the capacity to get you out of a reading slump, or just make you appreciate words more. Here is a list of 7 best short story collections to read, and why they mean to us.

Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges

7 Best Short Story Collections to Read - Fictions
7 Best Short Story Collections to Read – Fictions

Perhaps the best known collection of short stories, these magical realist books explore the length of Borges’ career. Teeming with the passion of Latin America, these short stories introduce characters like a man who cannot forget, a poet who recreates an epic and more. The settings are places as various as a library containing every book in the world, a mystic planet called Tlon and Babylon.

Numbers in the Dark by Italo Calvino

Numbers in the Dark
Numbers in the Dark

This collection, in Tim Parks’ translation, gives readers a selection of Calvino’s extraordinary literary work in chronological order. One story talks about a folk tribe who watches the path a missile charts from their modest huts. Another talks about a computer programmer on the verge of using his skills to devastating acts. A third unfolds in a town where everything except the game of tibby-cat is out of limits.

The Artist of Disappearance by Anita Desai

7 Best Short Story Collections to Read - The Artist of Disappearance
7 Best Short Story Collections to Read – The Artist of Disappearance

Anita Desai is a master storyteller, and her collection of short stories is a testament to this. The titular novella follows a mysterious hermit like man living in the snowscapes of Himalayas. Living in isolation and solitude, he harbours a secret known by none until he disappears. In another story, a translator, while translating the book of a friend, begins to fill in the gaps with her memory. So, in the process, the book becomes increasingly coloured with bias. In the third story, a government official comes to a museum for an inspection And discovers a hidden treasure.

The Progress of Love by Alice Munro

The Progress of Love
The Progress of Love

In this collection of stories by the author who won the Nobel Prize for her short stories, a world comes alive in the tangle of relationships. The titular story, divorced woman returns to her childhood home and reminisces about her parents’ relationship. In a second story, the incidental near-drowning of a child unravels the relationship between the child and its parents. And in another one, a young man’s memory triggers a host of emotions for a younger brother.

Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera

7 Best Short Story Collections to Read - Laughable Loves
7 Best Short Story Collections to Read – Laughable Loves

Kundera’s stories dazzle with philosophical reflection and linguistic wit. Those in this collection are all centred around love, and the games of love. In one, young honeymooners start playing a game in jest that threatens their relationship. Then, in a second, a couple of men in their middle ages stalk a younger girl. And in a third, a young man renews a relationship with an older woman struggling with body insecurity.

The Nine-Chambered Heart by Janice Pariat

The Nine-Chambered Heart
The Nine-Chambered Heart

This beautiful collection of stories from the north east Indian writer follows nine characters who recall their relationship with the same character. Seen from the eyes of various characters, such as a teacher, a parent and a friend, our protagonist comes alive. Perhaps more alive than if we had been allowed access into his innermost depths. Strikingly unique and with beautiful, luminous prose, this book of short stories is a must read.

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

7 Best Short Story Collections to Read - Men Without Women
7 Best Short Story Collections to Read – Men Without Women

This is a collection of seven stories all linked by a common theme – the protagonists are lonely men without romantic love in their life. The titular story follows a man who receives a phone call from an unknown person saying his former love has passed away. In ‘Yesterday’, two friends find love in the same woman, and neither gets her. In ‘Kino’, a young man realizes his wife has cheated on him and opens a jazz bar.

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