On A Digital Detox? 20 Story & Essay Collections To Read Instead Of Reaching For Your Phone

If you're trying to purge yourself of social media attachments, but find it hard to stop mindlessly scrolling Facebook and Twitter, I've picked out 20 story and essay collections to read on your digital detox.

Over the last several years, the humble social network has transformed from being a convenient means of staying in touch with friends into an integral part of everyday business relations. Every business has a social media presence these days, often with a dedicated staffers to manage it. Rather than simply being the place you go to find and share memes, your favorite social media network is now a place where people and corporations go to sell their products. That constant barrage of ads for skin products, clothing, diet plans, shoes, TV shows, medications, movies, home goods, restaurants, and more is really pretty exhausting to deal with, and that's not even including the horrible headlines — and worse, the comments underneath the headlines. And yet, we crave more of it.

Sometimes you just need to get away from all of that, which is why digital detoxing exists in the first place. If you're thinking of taking a break from your phone for a while, or if you're having trouble sticking to your no-social-media guns, the 20 books I've picked out for you below offer digestible stories and essays you can read instead of scrolling through your timeline of choice.

'Sabrina & Corina' by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

A collection of stories about Latinx and indigenous women living in Colorado, Kali Fajardo-Anstine's Sabrina & Corina is deeply moving and hopeful, despite the often grim subject matter of the stories. You won't be able to put it down to reach for your phone.

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'Orange World and Other Stories' by Karen Russell

From the author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove comes this collection of eight comedic stories, which includes the New Yorker-published "Bog Girl" — a tale of a boy in love with a 2,000-year-old swamp mummy.

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'My Seditious Heart' by Arundhati Roy

My Seditious Heart collects the two decades of political that came between The God of Small Things and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Arundhati Roy's fiction has been celebrated the world over, but her new collection of nonfiction is not to be missed.

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'Southern Lady Code' by Helen Ellis

Containing 23 irreverent essays on life as a woman in the American South, Helen Ellis' Southern Lady Code is a masterclass in the art of southern living and diplomatic politeness.

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'Home Remedies' by Xuan Juliana Wang

The 12 stories in Xuan Juliana Wang's Home Remedies weave in and around the Chinese diaspora. From a family of Chinese-American immigrants living in Chicago, to two Olympic divers in Beijing, Wang's collection explores the twin feelings of belonging and out-of-place-ness that surround the Chinese immigrant experience today.

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'All the Names They Used for God' by Anjali Sachdeva

The nine stories in Anjali Sachdeva's collection of short fiction span the globe, pushing the boundaries of what conventional fiction can do. Infused with a dreamy logic that has aliens replacing human hands with metal forks, and a woman retreating to live in a cave after the departure of her husband, All the Names They Used for God has a haunting quality that will stick with you long after each story is through.

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'The Collected Schizophrenias' by Esmé Weijun Wang

Esmé Weijun Wang's award-winning essay collection has received a lot of buzz lately, and if you aren't already on the bandwagon, now's the time. If you haven't read this inventive guide to mental illness in America, you need to pick it up as part of your digital detox this year.

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'Time Is the Thing a Body Moves Through' by T Fleischmann

Although it's technically a memoir, composed of a single essay, T Fleischmann's Time Is the Thing a Body Moves Through is short enough to read over the course of a weekend, or even a single day. The story of the author's own exploration of queerness and identity, this is an all-too-important book at a time when LGBTQIA+ rights are at risk of regression.

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'Small Kingdoms and Other Stories' by Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse creator Charlaine Harris offers readers a series of interwoven short stories in her newest book. The stories here all revolve around a singular institution, Travis High School, whose principal and baseball coach have had blood on their hands before... and are at risk of falling back on their old tricks in order to keep a good thing going.

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'The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations' by Toni Morrison

The Nobel Prize-winning author of Beloved and The Bluest Eye published a collection of nonfiction this year, and if you haven't read it yet, you're missing out. The Source of Self-Regard compiles Morrison's speeches and essays, moving from a prayer for those killed during and after 9/11 to a eulogy for Go Tell It on the Mountain author James Baldwin.

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'Thick: And Other Essays' by Tressie McMillan Cottom

If you want to read a collection of essays from a brilliant feminist voice, tackling every modern-day issue imaginable, you're going to want to get yourself a copy of Tressie McMillan Cottom's Thick. This is the perfect book for anyone who has ever been "thick where I should have been thin, more where I should have been less."

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'That Time I Loved You' by Carrianne Leung

That Time I Loved You is a short-story collection united by place. All of the tales in Carrie Leung's debut take place in a brand-new Toronto subdivision in the 1970s. If you're a fan of books that expose the murky underbelly of suburban perfection, you're going to love this new book.

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'Divided Loyalties' by Nilofar Shidmehr

Nilofar Shidmehr's short fiction moves from Tehran on the brink of the Iranian Revolution to modern-day Canada, where members of the Iranian diaspora live and work, their lives overshadowed by the suspicions of their non-Muslim neighbors. Focusing on Iranian women and girls across time and place, Divided Loyalties is a unique collection that you won't want to miss out on reading.

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'Brown White Black: An American Family at the Intersection of Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Religion' by Nishta J. Mehra

Indian-American author Nishta J. Mehra is married to a white woman named Jill, and together they raise their son Shiv, who is black. Their little family forms the heart of Brown White Black, a collection of essays on motherhood, intersectionality, and belonging.

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'I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution' by Emily Nussbaum

The author of Pulitzer Prize-winning columns for The New Yorker, TV critic Emily Nussbaum covers her own life as a passionate TV fan in I Like to Watch. At once an intimate collection of personal essays and a chronicle of our relationship to the tube, this book is perfect for anyone Jonesing for a TV fix during their digital detox.

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'Let's Tell This Story Properly' by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

A series of portraits examining the lives of the Ugandan-British, Let's Tell This Story Properly presents readers with a fascinating voice in English-language fiction. Kintu author Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi's deft handling of her Average Joe subjects is worth reading again and again.

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'Shut Up You're Pretty' by Téa Mutonji

Sharp-witted stories that examine women's lives askew, Téa Mutonji's fiction is designed to unsettle and enlighten. You won't know whether to laugh or cringe as you read these off-beat tales of women poised to examine not only their surroundings, but also themselves, to their very cores.

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'salt slow' by Julia Armfield

Juxtaposing women's bodies and visions of transforming landscapes, Julia Armfield's debut collection of short fiction transports readers into a world, very much like our own, where magical and unreal things can happen any day.

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'I'm Telling the Truth, But I'm Lying' by Bassey Ikpi (Aug. 6)

Diagnosed with bipolar II and anxiety, Nigerian-American immigrant and slam poet Bassey Ikpi has a unique and often unheard perspective on life. An unflinching examination of the ways our society marginalizes people who exist at particular intersections, I'm Telling the Truth, But I'm Lying will change the way you think about mental health and illness in the U.S.

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'Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion' by Jia Tolentino (Aug. 6)

One of the year's most anticipated titles, Jia Tolentino's Trick Mirror tackles social media, weddings, aesthetics, and everything in between. Already a No. 1 new release on Amazon, ahead of its publication, Trick Mirror is the book you'll want to talk about with everyone you know.

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