The best short story books and collections for 2024

From the gothic horror of Edgar Allan Poe to the literary brilliance of Dima Alzayat, here is our edit of the best short story books and collections.

There are so many reasons to love short stories; not least their ability to immerse us in new worlds in the time it takes to commute to work, or the common themes that weave through anthologies to create a thought-provoking whole. Here, we’ve collated our edit of the best short story collections. From spine-chilling tales to literary masterpieces, these are not to be missed.

After A Dance

by Bridget O'Connor

After a Dance is the compiled collection of short stories from acclaimed writer Bridget O'Connor. We meet a selection of O'Connor's most memorable characters often living on the margin of their own lives: from the anonymous thief set on an unusual prize to the hungover best man clinging to what he's lost, to the unrepentant gold-digger who always comes out on top. From unravelling narcissists to melancholy romantics all human life is here – at its best and at its delightful worst.

Green Frog

by Gina Chung

From Gina Chung, the author of Sea Change, comes this collection of fifteen offbeat, scintillating stories influenced by Korean fairy tales and contemporary ennui. They are stories about women trying to make their own way, featuring daughters, divorcees, fox demons, and . . . green frogs. From a praying mantis living in a beautiful home overlooking the park to AI bringing a grieving mother’s daughter back to life, each story shines a light on womanhood in all of its human (and other) forms.

Objects of Desire

by Clare Sestanovich

In these eleven short stories, thrilling desire and melancholic yearning animate women’s lives – from the brink of adulthood, to the labyrinthine path between twenty and thirty, to middle age, when certain possibilities quietly elapse. With powerful observation and mordant humour, Clare Sestanovich opens up a fictional world where intimate and uncomfortable truths lie hidden in plain sight. Objects of Desire is a book pulsing with subtle drama, rich with unforgettable scenes and alive with moments of recognition, each more startling than the last.


by Gerard Woodward

Many of Legoland's fifteen stories begin with Gerard Woodward's sharp and unflinching eye alighting upon an apparently everyday detail or situation, but then a sudden twist takes them to an unsettling place where life's normal rules no longer apply. In Woodward's brilliant story 'The Family Whistle', shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award, a woman's husband returns home from war, only to discover his wife thinks he's been back for years because another man has already claimed his place. ‘What’s wrong, Florian? Don’t you recognize your own husband?’

The Office of Historical Corrections

by Danielle Evans

Described by Roxane Gay as the 'finest short story writer working today,' Danielle Evans packs a powerful punch with each of the stories included in this remarkable collection. Across six short stories, as well as an eye-opening titular novella, she magnifies pivotal moments in her character's lives or relationships that allow for a wider blistering exploration of race, culture and history. 

You Will Never Be Forgotten

by Mary South

Mary South's bitingly funny debut collection explores how technology can both ruin relationships and provide new opportunities for genuine connection. The ten stories contained in this book are darkly absurdist and saveagely critical of our current cultural climates, while at the same time finding hope in moments of tenderness and fleeting interactions. Mary South is a perceptive, distinctive new voice in fiction. 

Stories of Your Life and Others

Book cover for Stories of Your Life and Others

In this masterful collection, Ted Chiang deftly blends human emotion and scientific rationalism in eight remarkably diverse stories. Story of Your Life was adapted into the blockbuster Arrival, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, and each of the seven other stories included in this book are just as gripping. Chiang spent years working on these science-fiction short stories creating epic worlds that are beyond the imagination.


by Ted Chiang

Also from Ted Chaing, we have Exhalation. This masterpiece consists of nine startlingly original, provocative and moving short stories. Wrestling with the oldest questions on earth – What does it mean to be human? What is the nature of the universe? – alongside others that no one else has even imagined. And, each in its own way, the stories prove that complex and thoughtful science fiction can rise to new heights of beauty, meaning, and compassion.

Alligator and Other Stories

by Dima Alzayat

Alligator and Other Stories explores the many ways of feeling displaced: as a Syrian, as an Arab, as an immigrant, as a woman. Each of these rich, relatable stories highlights the moment when unusual circumstances mark us as ‘other’ – different from our neighbours. Each of these stories is startling and real, delivering an emotional punch which lingers long after reading.

A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth

Book cover for A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth

A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth is a funny, irreverent and moving collection of short stories from the award-winning author Daniel Mason. On a fated flight, a balloonist makes a discovery that changes her life forever, a telegraph operator finds an unexpected companion in the depth of the Amazon, and a bare-knuckle fighter prepres to face his most fearsome opponent. In these interlacing tales, men and women face the mysteries and magic of the world.

Salt Slow

by Julia Armfield

This dazzling collection of short stories about women and their experiences in society is sure to shock and delight. Characters experience isolation, obsession and love in uncanny worlds where women become insects, men turn to stone and a city becomes insomniac. Blending the mythic and the gothic, this is an extraordinary collection. 

Sweet Home

by Wendy Erskine

This highly anticipated collection of short stories is the first from the talented Wendy Erskine. Wendy Erskine offers perfectly formed, brilliantly observed portraits of people trying to carve out a life for themselves, all the while being buffeted by the loss, grief and regret that come their way. Warm, compassionate and funny, Sweet Home captures life in contemporary East Belfast, in all of its forms.

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

by Helen Oyeyemi

The stories collected in What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours are linked by more than the exquisitely winding prose of their creator: Helen Oyeyemi's ensemble cast of characters slip from the pages of their own stories only to surface in another. The reader is invited into a world of lost libraries and locked gardens, of marshlands where the drowned dead live and a city where all the clocks have stopped; students hone their skills at puppet school, the Homely Wench Society commits a guerrilla book-swap, and lovers exchange books and roses on St Jordi's Day.

Tales of Mystery and Imagination

by Edgar Allan Poe

A master of the gothic and macabre; mysterious illnesses, insanity, murder and the supernatural abound in Poe’s short stories. This collection brings together some of his most famous tales, from The Tell-Tale Heart to The Fall of the House of Usher, with lesser-known gems.

Swimmer Among the Stars

by Kanishk Tharoor

Furiously inventive, beautifully crafted short stories from a strikingly original voice. The stories in this collection reveal an extraordinary young storyteller, whose tales of lonely elephants, fabled cooks and doomed villages emerge from a tradition that includes Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges and Angela Carter.

The story from which the collection takes its name takes the form of an interview with the last speaker of a language.

A Manual for Cleaning Women

by Lucia Berlin

It is only after her death that the incredible works of Lucia Berlin are truly getting the attention they deserve. In this collection of forty-three short stories, she gives an intimate insight into her chaotic yet beautiful life: the drink and the mess and the pain and the beauty and the moments of surprise and of grace, with a voice that is witty, anarchic, compassionate, and completely unique.

The Bloody Chamber

by Angela Carter

Book cover for The Bloody Chamber

Angela Carter is perhaps the Queen of Magic Realism. In this astounding collection, she takes classic fairy-tales we all know and love  – Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, Beauty and the Beast – and turns them upside down, creating dark, sensual stories that you’ll need to be brave to read at bedtime.

How to Love a Jamaican

by Alexia Arthurs

In her debut collection, Alexia Arthurs’ extraordinary short stories explore the lives and experiences of Jamaican immigrants and the families they leave behind. Her moving stories, including ‘Light Skinned Girls and Kelly Rowlands’, ‘Mermaid River’ and ‘Bad Behaviour’, are sure to leave a lasting impact.

Beneath the Bonfire

by Nickolas Butler

In these ten stories, Nickolas Butler demonstrates his talent for portraying a place and its people with unparalleled tenderness, evoking an American landscape that will be instantly recognizable to readers enchanted by his debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs.

In 'Rainwater' a grandfather raises his grandson after his mother disappears without a trace.

'He drank the remainder of the rainwater and began rocking them with more vigor. He hugged the child fiercely, felt his own lips meeting the top of the boy’s head.'

Men Without Women

by Haruki Murakami

Book cover for Men Without Women

In the seven short stories that make up this collection, Haruki Murakami depicts the lives of men who for various reasons have found themselves alone. Fans of his work will recognise his wry humour on every page and for new readers, this collection serves as the perfect introduction to one of today’s most renowned writers.

The Fat Artist and Other Stories

by Benjamin Hale

Benjamin Hale's fiction abounds with a love of language and a wild joy for storytelling. Occasionally nightmarish and often absurd, the seven stories in this collection introduce us to a company of indelible characters reeling with love, jealousy, megalomania, and despair. 

The Happy Prince & Other Stories

by Oscar Wilde

The Happy Prince & Other Stories is a charming collection of short stories written by Oscar Wilde between 1887 and 1891. The stories are fantastical, magical and sparkling with Wilde’s unique wit and personality. Beautifully illustrated, this collection is a great gift for friends and family.

Kiss Kiss

by Roald Dahl

Book cover for Kiss Kiss

Roald Dahl’s stories for children are delightful and fantastical, with just the right pinch of deviousness thrown in. But in this collection of short stories for adults, things get a lot darker. . . Introduce yourself to a new side of one of Britain’s most beloved authors.