These 13 Short Story Collections Are For Those Who Enjoy Both Haunted Houses & Burritos

by Melissa Ragsdale

There's nothing quite like a good short story collection. Short fiction has the unique ability to transport you into other worlds and bodies in just a handful of words, bringing you farther than you would ever expect, and then dropping you back into reality a few pages later.

Plus, many short story collections are published by small presses, which go to great lengths to ensure their books are exquisite pieces of art. Small presses are champions, supporting authors' creative freedom and often introducing the world to new voices. When you buy a book from a small press, it's a win-win: you get to read a fantastic set of writing, while also supporting an important sector of the literary world.

Many of the authors you'll find below have published stories online and in literary magazines. I've tried to include links where I could find them, so that you can get a taste of each author's style. Once you read any one of these stories, you're going to want to devour the whole collection.

Here are the short story collections you have to read this fall. From anthologies to debut collections, each one of these books is sure to take your breath away again and again.

'PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2017' edited by Yuka Igarashi

There's nothing quite as electrifying as discovering a new voice. For this fabulous new collection, judges Marie-Helene Bertino, Kelly Link, and Nina McConigley selected the best short stories (submitted by journals and literary magazines) written in the past year by previously unpublished writers. And let me tell you, every story in this is exquisite.

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'Her Body and Other Parties' by Carmen Maria Machado

This collection will absolutely floor you. Machado has the unique ability to take you right to the edge of yourself, delivering stories that are haunting and electrifying. Infused with magical realism, horror, dark comedy, and psychological suspense, Machado bends the universe in fascinating and mind-altering ways. It's already winning awards left and right, and is even a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction. Head over to Granta to read "The Husband Stitch."

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'The King is Always Above the People' by Daniel Alarcón

This excellent collection, which made the longlist for the National Book Award in Fiction, is filled with stories about immigration, families, and high-stakes journeys. Check out "The Lord Rides a Swift Cloud" on Buzzfeed for a sample.

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'Haunted Nights' edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton

Halloween may be over, but it's never too late to dive into a chilling tale. And this new anthology is filled with some truly terrifying pieces.

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'Kiss Me Someone' by Karen Shepard

This bold short story collection is filled with unforgettable stories of women as they navigate complicated spaces. For a taste, read "Popular Girls" at The Atlantic.

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'Catapult: Stories' by Emily Fridlund

Emily Fridlund's debut novel, History of Wolves, was nominated this year for the Man Booker Prize, so when I heard she had a short story collection coming out too, my ears definitely perked up. Characterized by a "near-gothic strangeness," this collection filled with characters who step pass the boundaries of what's socially acceptable, and open up their most private confessions to you.

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'The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night' by Jen Campbell

These fairytale-esque stories are filled with magic, dark wonder, and the deep excitement that comes along with the bizarre. Hearts are delivered onto doorsteps, a boy is worried that his sister has two souls, and mermaids are on display at the local aquarium. Give Campbell's "The Bookshop Bike" a read to get a sense of her style.

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'Five Carat Soul' by James McBride

Legendary, award-winning author James McBride delivered a fantastic short story collection this fall, and, like anything McBride writes, you don't want to miss it. From an American president who takes inspiration from an overheard conversation, to an antiques dealer who discovers a legendary toy commissioned by Robert E. Lee is in the home of a black minister in Queens, each one of these stories is filled with life, and propelled by McBride's mastery of storytelling.

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'The Relive Box and Other Stories' by T.C. Boyle

Short story powerhouse T.C. Boyle delivers another stunning collection in The Relive Box and Other Stories. In one story, readers find a box that allows you to relive any moment to your past. In other, readers find a man trying to build the biggest burrito in town. Boyle's wit and sharp ability to pack entire worlds into only a few pages is evident throughout. For a sample, you can read "The Relive Box" at The New Yorker.

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'Dead Girls and Other Stories' by Emily Geminder

Each story of this collection will startle you in its own unique way, but this is a collection that works as one, with the stories building on each other to create an unforgettable piece of art.

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'Buenos Aires Noir' edited by Ernesto Mallo

Akashic's noir anthology series is consistently excellent, and it's always worth getting excited about when they put out a new book. This fall, they delivered this fantastic collection of noir short stories set in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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'Worlds from the Word's End' by Joanna Walsh

The wonderfully talented Joanna Walsh gave us a spectacular short story collection this fall, Each of these stories is playful and sharp, with characters who live lives full of demands and delusions. For a taste of Walsh's short fiction, head over to Granta to read "Enzo Ponnza."

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'The Best American Short Stories 2017' selected by Meg Wolitzer

Of course, you can't get any better than the "best." This stories in this year's anthology of Best American Short Stories were selected by the legendary Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings and the forthcoming The Female Persuasion.

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