Can't Finish a Book? Try a Short-Story Collection Instead

By Ricci Yuhico, Managing Librarian, Young Adult Services
October 26, 2018

We've all been there.

A friend recommends a book, or a movie adaptation hits the shelves, or there's assigned reading in class… some books just don't pique everyone's interest—and that's perfectly okay!

In my honest opinion, life is way too short to spend time on a book that does not appeal to one's particular tastes (unless you're really required to. I am a librarian, after all). However, if you feel particularly guilty for not finishing a book, whether its because of preference or time limitations, why not try picking up a collection of short stories instead? 

Check out this list of compilations, which range in subject area from high-interest personal essays to short stories to comics. In these titles, different authors come together and each chapter forms a unique piece, which means there's no obligation to completely finish the book to find out what happens. With each chapter finished, you're left guilt-free and accomplished with another piece of literature under your belt. (Congratulations!)
(All summaries adapted from the publishers.)

Recommended Short Story Collections

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings book cover

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

Edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman
Fifteen authors of Asian descent reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia, in short stories ranging from fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge.


Meet Cute book cover

Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined To Meet

Stories by:  Jennifer L. Armentrout, Dhonielle Clayton, Katie Cotugno, Joceyln Davies, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Nina LaCour, Emery Lord, Katharine McGee, Kass Morgan, Julie Murphy, Meredith Russo, Sara Shepard, Nicola Yoon, Ibi Zoboi.

A collection of short stories exploring the moment when a couple meets for the first time—from an African American girl in upstate New York who simultaneously finds a prom dress and a date to a transgender girl who confronts the student blocking her right to use the school restroom.

The Radical Element book cover

The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes, and other Dauntless Girls

Edited by Jessica Spotswood

An anthology of historical short stories featuring a diverse array of girls standing up for themselves and their beliefs, forging their own paths while resisting society's expectations.







Fresh Ink book cover

Fresh Ink

Edited by Lamar Giles

An anthology featuring award-winning diverse authors about diverse characters. Short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play explore such topics as gentrification, acceptance, untimely death, coming out, and poverty, and range in genre from contemporary realistic fiction to adventure and romance.




Everyday People book cover

Everyday People: The Color of Life—A Short Story Anthology

Edited by Jennifer Baker

In the tradition of The Best American Short Stories comes Everyday People: The Color of Life, a dazzling collection of contemporary short fiction.


Unbroken book cover

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens

Edited by Marieke Nijkamp

An anthology of stories in various genres, each featuring disabled characters and written by disabled creators. The collection includes stories of interstellar war, a journey to Persia, a dating debacle. The teenaged characters reflect diverse colors, genders, and orientations— without obscuring the realities of their disabilities. 


#NotYourPrincess book cover

#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women

Edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale

Whether looking back to a troubled past or welcoming a hopeful future, the powerful voices of Indigenous women across North America resound in this book. In the same style as the best-selling Dreaming in Indian, #NotYourPrincess presents an eclectic collection of poems, essays, interviews, and art that combine to express the experience of being a Native woman.
Stories of abuse, humiliation, and stereotyping are countered by the voices of passionate women making themselves heard and demanding change. Sometimes angry, often reflective, but always strong, the women in this book will give teen readers insight into the lives of women who, for so long, have been virtually invisible.

Black Comix Returns book cover

Black Comix Returns

Edited by John Jennings and Damian Duffy

In 2010, Professor John Jennings and Dr. Damian Duffy compiled and published a 176-page collection of art and essays celebrating the vibrant African American independent comics community. Black Comix featured over 50 contributors, including Dawud Anyabwile, Eric Battle, Kenji Marshall, Afua Richardson, Larry Stroman, Rob Stull, Lance Tooks, and many, many more.
It met high praise throughout the industry and quickly sold through its respectable print run, despite interest and demand—used copies now fetch $60-150 on Amazon and eBay.
Flash-forward eight years: the comic industry has changed a lot since then, and the amount of African American talent continues to grow and amaze. While huge strides in diversity have been made, John and Damian felt the time was right for another spotlight on the topic. Rather than simply reprinting the first edition, considering the number of fresh new voices and changes in the industry, a whole new volume felt necessary. This massive volume will be a brand-new milestone spotlight on the amazing diversity in comics today.