A Book of Short Stories or Essays: Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge 2020
I love a good novel, but increasingly I've been choosing reads where I can get my comedy, insight or drama all in one sitting. If you've started and stopped a whole lot of books this year, try dipping into a collection of short stories or essays. Here's a list of excellent, relevant reads to get you started.
Intimations: Six Essays by Zadie Smith
There will be many great and awful books written about 2020. I'm glad that Zadie Smith has led the pack with this slim, deeply thoughtful and compassionate collection of lived experience.
Music Lessons by Bob Wiseman
Filled with clever reflections on music, improvisation, kids and just about everything else. This recently published compilation will expand both your mind and your heart.
These books were picked by our staff for a book of short stories or essays.
Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century. Edited by Alice Wong
This anthology is edited by Alice Wong, a disability activist and host of the Disability Visibility Project podcast. The book is made up of different kinds of first-person writing including essays, speeches, manifestos and interviews. The writers have a range of perspectives on disability with narratives that are diverse, raw, poignant, galvanizing and joyful.
– Winona, Senior Services Specialist
Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson
I haven't read it yet, but I'm planning to read this collection of short stories by Nalo Hopkinson. Like most of Hopkinson's writing, it straddles classic science fiction (the title is a nod to SF author Cordwainer Smith), fantasy and magical realism. I expect it to be delightful.
– Wendy, Digital Content Lead
I really enjoyed this collection of personal essays that focus on Arceneaux's life, growing up as a Black Gay man in America. It is both hilarious and emotional. It's great if you're looking for a more fun leisurely read. I also highly recommend it for any Beyoncé fans out there!
– Des'Ree, Public Service Assistant
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
This is a hilarious collection of stories about the author's family. I read the print version, but I hear the audiobook version is even better.
– Nalini, Senior Branch Head
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
– Katherine, Library Assistant
We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai
These stories really paint a clear picture of what it means to be displaced and how these incredibly resilient girls try to overcome their obstacles.
– Elsa, Senior Services Specialist
Out Now: Queer We Go Again! edited by Saundra Mitchell
This collection of short stories by queer teens heavily feature romance, several are sci-fi, and some might make you tear up more than a little. My favourite story was "Seditious Teapots" by Kete Hart which is not about tea (darn!), but it is about teapots, and also about labels and the evolution of language.
– Amy, Communications Officer
Morality By Design: Technology's Challenge to Human Values by Wade Rowland
This incredibly accessible series of essays discusses moral philosophy in the context of modern technology. Structured as a single work, each chapter is a self-contained essay.
– Michael, Librarian
Wow, No Thank You: Essays by Samantha Irby
Any of Samantha Irby's books! I've only read Wow, No Thank You, but laughed so hard. I'm sure her other two are the same.
– Maddie, Senior Library Assistant
Recommendations from the Facebook Group
These are just some of the fantastic recommendations from our Facebook TPL Reading Challenge 2020 discussion group. Thank you for sharing!
- A Short History of Indians in Canada: Stories by Thomas King
- Artful by Ali Smith
- Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay
- Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler
- Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
- Consider the Lobster and Other Stories by David Foster Wallace
- Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Exhalation by Ted Chiang
- I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
- Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
- The Largess of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
- Late Breaking by K. D. Miller
- Miss Grief and Other Stories by Constance Fenimore Woolson
- My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places by Mary Roach
- Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
- One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
- Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre, edited by Tracy Chevalier
- Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
- Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho
- Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood
- Tales from Firozsha Baag by Rohinton Mistry
- Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders
- This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
- Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino
- Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks
- Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories by Karen Russell
- Who Do You Think You Are? Stories by Alice Munro
- Whose Story is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters by Rebecca Solnit
- The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl
What did you read for a book of short stories or essays? Do you have other recommendations? Share in the comments below!