Short Stories for Long Nights

Reading in bed is one of my favorite pleasures in life — made more enjoyable when the nights get colder, as has been the case recently here in Pittsburgh.  (Yesterday it snowed in some parts ’round here, and last night the temperature went down to 28 degrees!) In my mind, there is nothing better than being under the covers and spending time with a good book right before falling asleep … assuming, of course, that I don’t actually fall asleep before turning the first page.

Lately, I’ve taken to reading a short story before bedtime. This works out well because I seem to always have a short story collection on my nightstand.

Here are a few that are keeping me company on these cooler nights.

A Manual for Cleaning WomenA Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories has been getting quite a bit of buzz from the literary community, partly because this is a posthumous collection from Lucia Berlin, who was somewhat unknown as a writer during her lifetime. So far, the buzz is deserved, as these are very, very short stories that pack a punch.  Of the handful that I’ve read thus far, “Dr. H.A. Moynihan” was enough to keep me awake for the rest of the night.

Wonderful Town

Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker is one of those books that I’ve “always been meaning to” check out someday.  These are very New York-centric stories, giving the reader a flavor for The Big Apple. The audiobook version, which I listened to several months ago, is an abridged version of this collection.

John Cheever(OK, technically this one isn’t a bedtime book for me — I listened to it in the car — but most of these stories are set in so-called bedroom communities, so it counts for this post.) I spotted The John Cheever Audio Collection on the shelf recently and decided to try his stories.  This is where I confess that I’ve never read any John Cheever, which is something I think I should have done by now. Someone who loves short stories as much as I do really should have some familiarity with Cheever.

The narration is key to this collection of 12 stories. Meryl Streep is brilliant on “The Enormous Radio” (how could she not be?), but that doesn’t take away from this being one of the best stories in the bunch. “The Five Thirty Eight” is another great offering. These stories evoke another time — a simpler world — which is why I’m enjoying them.

I’m always on the lookout for great short stories to read, either before bed or any other time.  What have you enjoyed recently that you would recommend?

-Melissa F.


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6 responses to “Short Stories for Long Nights

  1. I’d also never read any John Cheever until last year, but I made up for it by plowing through his collected works. I’d recommend a David Sedaris edited collection called Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules that’s just packed with great stories.

  2. I’ve seen the Lucia Berlin book mentioned a lot recently. Sounds interesting. I have just finished Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann – a novella and 3 short stories – and it was wonderful. I’ve now moved on to The Long Gaze Back, an anthology of short stories by Irish Women Writers. I’m on a bit of a short story buzz at the moment!

  3. Reading in bed while cold winds howl outside is the most comfortable thing! I have been on the prowl for short stories, as I haven’t really read very many in my lifetime. Thank you for sharing these, they will be very beneficial :D

  4. Pl

    Every writer should own a copy of Cheever’s Red Book( The Stories of John Cheever) His story telling is uniquely wonderful – it captures a time and place so perfectly. And, yes, the Book on Tape makes a drive to and from Oregon pure bliss.

  5. I first read Cheever in Gotham Writers’ Workshop FICTION GALLERY 2004 (highly recommend). At the moment, I’m enjoying the Dale Bailey’s stories in The End of the End of Everything, 2015. Though the cover art and title are dark, the stories are creative and inventive which I find fun.

  6. Pingback: October Recap: Banned Books, Witches and Time Travel, Oh My! | Eleventh Stack

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