If you feel as though this January has lasted at least three calendar years; if you're barely 50 per cent awake by lunchtime, and 100 per cent asleep on your commute home, you're very far from alone. In this, the dreariest of months, you might find yourself daunted by the prospect of finishing a whole entire novel, or unwilling to trade more than 10 minutes of sleep for your typical read before bed. But worry not, readers: you needn't fall out of the habit altogether. Turn instead to a short story: specifically, try these five new short story collections, which offer thought-provoking, irresistibly compelling narratives in conveniently bite-sized packages.
Samanta Schweblin's Mouthful of Birds — featuring a literal mouthful of birds — will mesmerise as it disturbs, while N. K. Jemisin's How Long 'til Black Future Month? injects the supernatural into familiar landscapes. Try 'Cat Person' author Kristen Roupenian's You Know You Want This to keep abreast of the internet sensation's boundary-probing output, or look to Yukiko Motoya's Picnic in the Storm to see familiar relationship issues in a new, stranger light. Want something pocket-sized? Sally Rooney's Mr Salary has you covered. The last dregs of winter needn't sap your reading strength entirely, friends, and these short stories will help you out.