Is your schedule so hectic that you barely have any time to yourself? Don't have much time to spend with a long novel? Then try a collection of short stories! As a full-time worker and student, I have found that reading short stories can be a perfect getaway when I actually do have time for some pleasure reading.
One of my favorite authors is novelist and short-story writer Kevin Canty, who may be better known for his short stories than for his novels. The first work I read by him was his novel Winslow in Love . After reading that, I soon discovered his collected short stories in A Stranger in This World and Honeymoon and Other Stories. Although most of the characters in the books are down and out, self-destructive, and desperately searching for meaning within their unfortunate circumstances, Canty has a way of drawing the reader into their world of isolation, loneliness, and despair. Take the characters Vincent and Laurie from "Carolina Beach" who have started their relationship under less than timely circumstances but have taken a weekend trip together all the while wondering where their future is headed, or the overweight teenage loner from "Flipper", who feels isolated and escapes from "fat camp" only to find solace in a relationship with an unlikely companion. Although not exactly uplifting reading, there is something about these everyday people that make the reader feel for them and hope that their situations turn out okay.
I have recently discovered a new favorite author in Haruki Murakami. Just a month or so ago I completed a collection of short stories Blind Willow Sleeping Woman . I have wanted to read his novels but decided I would try a collection of his short stories first. And it turns out that I was better off to start with the short works anyway; it let me get to know his writing style and narration before delving into his more complicated novels. My favorites in Blind Willow Sleeping Woman are "Chance Traveler", a story about a chance encounter between two people, one of whom is searching for the reason that he has met this person, and "The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day", a touching story about a young man whose father told him when he was younger that there will only be three significant women in his life. But when he has already met the first two, is this new relationship going to be the one? I did think the narrating character in most of the stories was a little too similar, but overall I really enjoyed the stories.
I am now currently reading (along with schoolbooks!) another of Murakami's short story collection, The Elephant Vanishes. And by summer break I should be ready to tackle one of his novels!
So if you've got just a few minutes here and there to catch up on some reading, I highly recommend short stories.