6 Short Story Books to Read This Summer

Remember View-Masters? A once-popular line of stereoscopes, still around today, that came with a thin cardboard disk containing seven photos on film that circulated through a reel. Each time you pressed the button you were shown a new photograph, a new setting, a new story. That’s what short story books are like; with each story, whether connected to the previous one or not, comes something new.

It’s not always easy to fully develop new characters and plots with a small word count and interwoven theme, but when the author gets it right, it can be magical.

The short story books featured here do just that, each intriguing and entertaining in their own form.

The Dream Life of Astronauts by Patrick Ryan

Ryan’s book consists of nine short stories, each following different characters connected by their desire to understand the roads they’ve ended up on. Each story is situated beside landmark events like Watergate or the Challenger Explosion. Whether it’s an ex-Mobster in the witness protection program or a NASA engineer caught in a troubling affair, Patrick Ryan blends humor with heartbreak to create a work of art in fiction. Get reading!

Barbara the Slut by Lauren HolmesBarbara the Slut by Lauren Holmes

With an array of witty and contagious characters, Lauren Holmes’s novel taps into the challenging task of understanding relationships, whether it be with family or lovers. In “Dessert Hearts,” the main character picks up a job selling sex toys rather than pursuing her father’s wishes of chasing after a law career. The main character in “Barbara the Slut” takes on the pitfalls of high school with open eyes. It is the details within each story that will keep you coming back for more, not just because the stories are entertaining, but because, perhaps, we see pieces of ourselves in the characters.

Dinosaurs on Other Planets by Danielle McLaughlinDinosaurs on Other Planets by Danielle McLaughlin

In McLaughlin’s debut novel the mundane is never actually mundane. With eleven short stories, readers are invited into the untouched territory of emotions of characters living seemingly normal lives. Each character, such as a wife in an unhappy marriage, is given their own space to grow and reach a moment of clarity within their own story. Kirkus Reviews puts it best: “In McLaughlin’s world, the everyday has the same sparkle — or the same devastation — as a glittering galaxy or a war.”

When Watched by Leopoldine CoreWhen Watched by Leopoldine Core

In nineteen short stories all set within or around New York City, lovers, friends, and even sex workers attempt to navigate the ties that bind us to each other. Readers are brought to understand the true identities of each character, wholly unique in their own way, guided by separate beliefs all their own. Changing scenarios, whether involving a recovering alcoholic or a couple struggling to revive their failing marriage, take a zoomed-in lens to the yearning and suffering of everyday life.

Children of the New World by Alexander WeinsteinChildren of the New World by Alexander Weinstein

In a world where technology is all-encompassing, “Children of the New World” seems to foreshadow the consequences that may develop in a technology-driven society. Coming out in September, this book of thirteen short stories highlights the modern world’s dependence on all things digital, specifically social media, virtual reality games, and robots. Each story takes on instances that may become very real in the future, making readers take a step back and question the effects of technology on our society.

The Virginity of Famous Men by Christine SneedThe Virginity of Famous Men by Christine Sneed

Christine Sneed’s newest novel explores the stories of characters trying to make peace with decisions they’ve made. “Beach Vacation” introduces a mother that comes to realize her son is no longer the person she thought he was. The title story, “The Virginity of Famous Men,” explores themes of fortune and family. Each story leads readers on a journey of both familiar, and unfamiliar, emotions.