A curated booklist by your favorite SPL librarians!
Short Stories and Anthologies
Literary Fiction | Mysteries | Sci-fi and Fantasy
|Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So
In his posthumous, award-winning debut, Cambodian American writer, Anthony Veasna So, shares moving stories inspired by his ethnic background and queer cultural experiences, with undercurrents of generational trauma. With humor and insight, So deftly brings levity to heartbreaking experiences like a mother remembering the 1989 anti-Asian Stockton school massacre in “Generational Differences,” in juxtaposing them to more comical stories, like a teacher trying to aviod hooking up with his relatives on Grindr in “Human Development.”
|Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
This award-winning collection of short works by Adjei-Brenyah paints an honest, moving, and graphic portrayal of the American experience for young Black individuals, overlapping reality with Afrofuturism, horror, and satire. In their starred review of the work, Booklist exclaims, “Adjei-Brenyah's dozen stories are disturbingly spectacular, made even more so for what he does with magnifying and exposing the truth.”
|Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu
Brimming with magical realism, this compelling, lyrical collection of 12 short stories is sure to enchant and captivate. Each story builds a new world all of its own: a group of children steals a haunted doll; a runaway bride encounters a sea monster; a vendor sells toy boxes that seemingly control the passage of time; an insomniac is seduced by the Sandman (Publisher). In a starred review, Kirkus declares it a "powerful collection that demonstrates Fu’s range and skill."
|The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land by Omer Friedlander
Set in Israel, this beautiful collection of compelling short stories transcends the boundaries of religion, politics, and geography as they deftly detail the difficulties faced by Israeli Jews. Publishers Weekly Review writes, “Friedlander imbues his characters with a deeply felt humanity, and his finely tuned command of emotional tenor will evoke tears and laughter in equal measure.”
|Sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
A powerful, award-winning short story collection about Latina and Indigenous American women living in the American west. Both heart-wrenching and hopeful, Fajardo-Anstine writes about the intersection of female, Indigenous, and Latina identities with grace and insight in these 11 raw and truthful tales.
|Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang
An award-winning collection of short stories about the lives of young, female, Taiwanese and Chinese immigrants in 1990’s New York City by poet and essayist, Jenny Zhang. As the stories unfold, the characters try to connect the world they’ve left behind with their new existence in the United States, in this candid work of fiction highlighting the hardships of the immigration experience.
|The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
A complex and engaging collection of nine award-winning short stories spanning four generations of Black women in America. Wrestling with the “good girl” ideal, these women walk the tightrope of morality as espoused by religion and family, while also seeking to fully realize their inner desires. In “Eula,” two female churchgoers in their forties meet for a yearly hotel tryst; in “Jael,” a teenager seeks revenge on a sexual predator; and in “How to Make Love to a Physicist,” a woman finds freedom from a lifetime of loathing her own body.
|You Have a Friend in 10A by Maggie Shipstead
A character-driven collection of 10 short stories by New York Times bestselling author, Maggie Shipstead. Declared “essential for fiction lovers” by Library Journal Review, works in this emotionally complex collection include "The Cowboy Tango," where a Montana ranch owner and his younger hire’s dynamic drastically shifts upon the arrival of the rancher’s nephew, and a honeymoon gone horribly wrong in “La Moretta.”
|An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten
A darkly humorous collection of short stories about 88-year-old Maude, a fiercely independent woman in Sweden willing to go to any length to preserve her quiet, peaceful, rent controlled existence, including murder. Kirkus declares this book, “pure fun, although slender.” Luckily, Tursten blessed us with a second installment of Maude mayhem in An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed.
|Seasonal Work by Laura Lippman
From seasoned mystery writer, Laura Lippman, comes a diverse collection of playful, suspenseful short stories featuring women from all ages and walks of life. Highlights include "Just One More," where a couple attempts to rekindle their marriage during the pandemic through dating apps, and “Five Fires, where a deli-worker’s schizophrenia obscures the truth behind a streak of local arsons she’s attempting to solve.
|Sleep No More: Six Murderous Tales by P. D. James
A titillating selection of short stories by the late Mystery Writers of America Grand Master P. D. James, each with its own surprising twist. Book List Review declares it “a must-read for fans of one of the most influential crime-fiction authors of the twentieth century.”
Sci-fi and Fantasy
|A People's Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams
A critically acclaimed, inclusive, speculative fiction anthology featuring stories by 25 diverse, seasoned and new voices. Exploring and re-imagining life in the United States, these visionary stories range from dystopias birthed from politics' worst qualities to time-loops riddled with misogyny and mundaneness. Publishers Weekly Review declares, "This bold collection is full of hope, strength, and courage, and will be welcomed by readers looking for emotional sustenance and validation of their experiences in a challenging time."
|The Book of Dragons: An Anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan; illustrated by Rovina Cai
Adventure awaits in this collection of nearly 30 short stories and poems by notable names in speculative fiction like Ken Liu, Kate Elliot, and R.F. Kuang. This Locus Award-winning anthology about all types of dragons imaginable (fire-breathing dragons, ancient water dragons, and yes, even space dragons) is sure to please sci-fi and fantasy lovers alike, as well as anyone drawn to quality storytelling.
|Exhalation by Ted Chiang
The long-awaited, second short story collection by Hugo and Nebula-winner Ted Chiang comprises nine sci-fi stories examining everything from artificial intelligence and technological advances to human consciousness. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly exclaims, "These stories are brilliant experiments, and Chiang's commitment to exploring deep human questions elevates them to among the very best science fiction."
|Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman, the award-winning mind behind The Sandman and American Gods, reaches critical acclaim yet again with his third installment of fantastical short stories, and a few poems for good measure. From fantasy and sci-fi to horror and a splash of romance, Gaiman explores everything from the world of Sherlock Holmes in an alternate Victorian England to the social interactions at a house party thrown by aliens. The New York Times declares these 31 short works of fiction a “prodigiously imaginative collection."
|Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering
A winning collection of 18 short stories by women authors in fantasy. Glimpse life on the run for a dark witch and her young daughter in Kelley Armstrong's "Black Magic Momma: An Otherworld Story;" visit Snow White post-nuptials in Theodora Goss’ "How To Become a Witch Queen;" witness a mother outbest her son's bully by bewitching a seven-layer cake in Hillary Monahan’s “Bless Your Heart;” and decide for yourself if these witches are truly wicked, or simply women reclaiming their power.
|The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe
A culturally diverse, queer collection of short stories in sci-fi written by Grammy-nominated, nonbinary musical artist and actor, Janelle Monáe, in collaboration with an inclusive mix of talented voices in speculative fiction. These thought-provoking Afrofuturist stories follow the life of Jane 57821, a queer woman who has escaped the world of Dirty Computer, a totalitarian place where people are computers terrorized by thought police who control “dirty memories.”