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6 Short Stories EVERY Bibliophile Should Read

Posted by in Books for Sale on November 19, 2012

For a die-hard bibliophile, even an entire lifetime spent reading books and stories, is not enough. You have a book waiting for you in every room you enter and three in your car. Your list of to-read stories is as long as the River Nile and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Novels, novellas, short stories, you want it all. I’ll admit, happily so, that I’m a victim too, more so- a victim of short stories. They’re shorter, crisper and more tightly packed than a novel. However, in no way does that mean, I love novels any less. But well, when done beautifully, they capture every essence of a book, in spite of the brevity. To make matters easier, I thought of preparing a mini-short-stories’ bucket list. Yes, list of six short stories that ensure you die a happy bibliophile!

A Rose for Emily, William Faulkner: The story has you right from the first line, “When Miss Emily died, the whole town went to her funeral: the men, out of respectful affection for a fallen monument and the women, mostly out of curiosity”. It’s touching, saddening yet shocking. A story of loneliness, selfishness and the refusal to come to terms with the death of a loved one and the other bitter realities of the present. This is a story of Miss Emily, set against the backdrop of a major political change and extreme racial discrimination. William Faulkner seamlessly binds the catharsis of society and Miss. Emily’s need to hold onto grief rather than embracing loneliness. This story is no rosy trip. But Faulkner ensures you’re not disappointed.

The Landlady, Roald Dahl: It is a rarity of sorts, to find any of his stories without a hair-raising twist. “The Landlady” is a classic example of that. Dahl’s heavy reliance on settings to bring forth duality and thicken the suspense, is just plain ingenious. Throughout the story, Dahl very intelligently uses pleasant phrases to create a positive, homely atmosphere, without- in the slightest- preparing the readers for the macabre ending.

Up in The Tree, Yasunari Kawabata: Yasunari Kawabata is more famous for his other works like, “Snow Country” and “The Girl Who approached the fire”, but “Up in the Tree” will make you fall in love with the not only the characters, but also its author’s work. Japanese literature is all about minimalism. And Kawabata understands and uses this to his best. The use of settings, convey a lot more than any combination of words ever can, and also ensures that the readers are touched and hooked. Pay attention to every detail, or you might miss the beauty of the story.

Ward 6, Anton Chekhov: Anton Chekhov might have had a relatively short career, but in that short span, he produced some really amazing works. “Ward 6” is one of them. It is Chekhov’s unique style of writing that makes this story a beautiful experience. With parallel character stories and sub-plots, Chekhov presents before us the many lessons and wisdoms we could inculcate within ourselves without any monotony- an accomplishment not many authors can boast of.

And of Clay Are We Created, Isabel Allende: When it comes to a criticism of society’s actions, “And of Clay Are We Created” can never be too far behind. Very few stories are capable of bringing to the fore, a plethora of emotions like catharsis, love, fear, desperation, helplessness, anger, all at the same time. And this story does it beautifully. Distance brings pain and longing (the narrator and Rolf), but it also brings two souls closer, fighting and struggling for one common cause- life (Rolf and Acuzena). When the narrator opens with, “They discovered the girl’s head, protruding from the mud-pit, eyes wide open, calling soundlessly.” You know you’re embarking upon an emotionally unforgettable journey.

A Hanging, George Orwell: No author explores the nature and reasoning of authority, the way George Orwell does. Be it Animal Farm or my personal favourite, A Hanging. The story is said to be a recounting of events, during Orwell’s time as a police magistrate in India, back in 1920s. Writing in a first person perspective, Orwell explores the concept of Capital punishment and how the executioners are completely immune- almost robotic, with the procedure. He was one of them too. Until one day, epiphany came and changed his entire view on capital punishment. This is more than a boring essay on the premature death of one man. Through his style of narration, Orwell takes the readers, through various horrors, guilt trips and his own realisation of taking a life prematurely. There’s an important lesson for everyone here, without failing to engage.    

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Maddy Thomas is an incredible writer and loves reading books. She recommends bibliophiles to refer online books in Australia as they are easy to read and affordable.

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