17 Essay & Short Story Collections By Novelists You Adore, From Zadie Smith To Toni Morrison
Literature is filled with talented novelists who can spin tales that lasts hundreds and hundreds of pages, but many writers will tell you that it's harder to write a short story or essay than a novel. When a short story is good, when it's really good, it can pack an incredible punch. Which is why it's especially incredible to read your favorite author tackle the art of the short story or essay.
Short fiction and nonfiction pieces can be read in so many different ways. You're welcome to blaze through the entire book in one sitting, as you would a novel. But you can also take it one piece at a time. You can fit the stories or essay in between work and school and chores. You can read one piece a night before going to bed. The possibilities are endless.
For me, when I really love an author, I want to devour everything they've ever written — be it an essay, a short story, a poem, or a note they wrote to their mom when they were eight years old. It can be incredibly rewarding to read an author's different forms of writing. You can really see how they develop their voice and their craft, and you can get new perspectives on the novels that you love so much.
When it comes literature, it's absolutely true that you can find great big things in small packages. So, stop what you're doing and pick up one of these fantastic collections by an author that you already know and love.
'Feel Free' by Zadie Smith
Broken into five sections — In the World, In the Audience, In the Gallery, On the Bookshelf, and Feel Free — this essay collection from Zadie Smith asks some pretty darn important questions (and provides some brilliant answers) about the world we live in.
'How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays' by Alexander Chee
If you love Chee's Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night, try out this collection of essays about how the lessons he's learned that have shaped him into the writer he is today.
'You Think It, I'll Say It' by Curtis Sittenfeld
You probably know Sittenfeld from her novels, like Eligible and Prep. So you'll definitely want to devour this collection of short stories by the author, filled with bold female characters who you'll connect with instantly.
'Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales' by Tamora Pierce
Every Tamora Pierce fan needs to get their hands on this collection of short stories set in the realm of Tortall. Knights, magic, intrigue—these stories have everything you love about Pierce's novels.
'Trigger Warning' by Neil Gaiman
Is there anything Neil Gaiman doesn't write? Novels, screenplays, graphic novels, essays, and (of course) short stories. The author's imaginative style is at its best in this eerie collection.
'Paris for One and Other Stories' by Jojo Moyes
The author of Me Before You delivers a delicious dose of short fiction in this dreamy, romantic collection.
'Unaccustomed Earth' by Jhumpa Lahiri
Don't you just want to soak in Jhumpa Lahiri's beautiful prose? You probably know this Pulitzer Prize–winning author from her novels, including The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies, but these eight stories pack just as much of an emotional punch.
'Stone Mattress: Nine Tales' by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood is another one of those authors who can do absolutely anything. She's at her absolute best in this collection of short stories, each one as potent and prescient as her most famous work, The Handmaid's Tale.
'What is Not Yours is Not Yours' by Helen Oyeyemi
Boy, Snow, Bird and Mr. Fox author Helen Oyeyemi truly shines in this collection of imaginative short stories.
'The Thing Around Your Neck' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's writing comes alive in this fantastic collection of short stories that span from Nigeria to the United States.
'The Elephant Vanishes' by Haruki Murakami
As pensive and strange as his novels, this Murakami short story collection will definitely give you something to think about.
'Full Dark, No Stars' by Stephen King
You know Stephen King for all of his best-selling thriller and horror novels, but he's also the master of the short story. These four dark short stories pack all the suspense we love from King, in a shorter format.
'This is the Story of a Happy Marriage' by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett blends literature and memoir to share stories from her life. If you've read any of Patchett's novels, you know that you can expect astounding emotional breadth from this book.
'Small Wonder' by Barbara Kingsolver
In this gem of an essay collection, author of The Poisonwood Bible explores all the small and big wonders of life, from the Grand Canyon to her vegetable garden.
'No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters' by Ursula K. Le Guin
In this essay collection, the late Ursula K. Le Guin covers "aging, belief, the state of literature, and the state of the nation." Whew, if anyone can tackle all those issues with precision and humor, it's her.
'The Origin of Others' by Toni Morrison
Nobel laureate Toni Morrison reflects on the themes that characterize her work — race, fear, borders, and more — in this outstanding essay collection.
'The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories' by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff
Young adult authors Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff originally posted these stories for merryfates.com as a way to experiment with their writing in public "without a backspace key." Not only does this book feature tose stories, but it also contains author's comments, critiques, and kudos in the margins.