Snack Sized and Mind Expanding

The Best Short Story Collections of 2015


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You could fill bookcases with the number of half-finished novels sitting around my home. A busy stretch at work, sudden travel, a shift in mood — whatever — happened, and I put down one book for the next, promising to pick it up again but never keeping my word. This rarely happens with a short story. So, as activities move inward during winter, and in the spirit of curating a reading list that isn’t judgmental and will let you read it when you can — without punishing you with sustained, complex development — we’ve compiled the best short story collections (and a few memoirs and novellas, to boot) of 2015. The reading below is bite-sized, perfect for picking up when you can and for finishing a story, or knocking out the entire collection over a long weekend.

Sick in the Head: Conversations about Life and Comedy

By: Judd Apatow
Pages: 512 (38 conversations)
Published: June 16, 2015

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Funniest Read: A collection of conversations between Judd Apatow, one of the funniest, most successful comedy filmmakers alive, and the comedians who inspired and informed his work. The snack-sized conversations span his high school days in 1983, up until 2014, and include big names such as Jerry Seinfeld, Lena Dunham, Key and Peele, Amy Schumer and many others.

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories

By: Lucia Berlin
Pages: 432 (53 stories)
Published: August 18, 2015

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Rediscovered Greatness: A collection of the best work from Lucia Berlin, who wrote in relative obscurity during her lifetime before rising to fame this year with this collection, which has already outsold all her previous books combined. With both humor and melancholy, Berlin writes on laundromats, halfway houses, the upper class, hitchhikers, bad Christians and more.

The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories

By: Joy Williams
Pages: 512 (46 stories)
Published: September 8, 2015

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New Work from an Old Legend: Joy Williams is the acclaimed author of four novels. The most recent (in 2000) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This collection includes 33 stories that appear in her other well-received collections, and 13 appearing for the first time.

The Argonauts

By: Maggie Nelson
Pages: 160
Published: May 5, 2015

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Best Queer Memoir: The Argonauts details Nelson’s relationship with the artist Harry Dodge, who is fluidly gendered. Her account of pregnancy and raising a family combine with intellectual thought to provide a nuanced look at how the queer family fits into the American social landscape.

Half an Inch of Water: Stories

By: Percival Everett
Pages: 88
Published: September 15, 2015

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Best Simple Westerns: Everett, a professor at the University of Southern California, regularly releases a mix of novels, poetry and short stories. This collection, his first short story collection in over a decade, is an assortment of Westerns with simple characters, all finding that small, seemingly innocuous events can change everything.

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories

By: Stephen King
Pages: 512
Published: November 3, 2015

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The Horror Master: Stephen King, a short story vet of 35 years and master of horror, brings together tales of death, mistakes relived, the supernatural and marriage, and shows he’s still producing some of the best horror around.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

By: George R.R. Martin
Pages: 368 (3 novellas)
Published: October 6, 2015

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Best Fantasy: This collection of novellas needs little introduction. From Martin come the three official prequel novellas to A Song of Ice and Fire, telling of events occurring nearly 100 years before the series that made him a household name.

Fortune Smiles: Stories

By: Adam Johnson
Pages: 320 (6 stories)
Published: August 18, 2015

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The Near Future of Tech and Politics: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Adam Johnson releases a collection of six stories spanning technology, politics and mortality, including “Nirvana,” winner of the prestigious Sunday Times short story prize.

Get in Trouble: Stories

By: Kelly Link
Pages: 352 (9 stories)
Published: February 3, 2015

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Best for Gaiman Fans: This collection is imaginative and disturbing, a collection of magical realism that travels from the suburbs to the swamp to an eerie cottage, all brought to life by Link, a Hugo Award-winning talent for the weird.

Voices in the Night: Stories

By: Steven Millhauser
Pages: 304 (16 stories)
Published: April 14, 2015

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Most Insidious: Steven Millhauser, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1996 novel Martin Dressler, brings hyperrealism to stories inspired by religion, which cut as they show the darkness that lies in the small cracks of everyday life.

Bonus, Reissued Classics

Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe

By: Thomas Ligotti
Pages: 464 (31 stories)
Published: October 6, 2015

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Best Short Horror: With an experimental writing style that weaves the absurdity of the human condition into crumbling cities and dreamlike scenes, Ligotti brings forth one of the best collections of modern horror in recent memory. His “philosophical horror” and reclusive lifestyle has made him little known, but this collection from the 1980s and early 1990s, reissued with a new forward by Jeff Vandermeer, is not to be overlooked.