As the new year dawns, it seemed like the perfect time to share my favorite books of 2014. Though I read roughly the same number of books in 2014 as 2013 , 94 to last year’s 90, I read the largest number of pages yet! Quite a feat given that when I started tracking my reading I was finishing up my senior year as an English major.
Over the month of January I will share my favorite books across four categories: short stories, fiction, memoirs & real history and young adult fiction. Today I am conquering the short story books.
2015 Short Story Picks
Short stories are deceptively easy to read. I find myself stumbling into them expecting a quick romp, only to realize that I spend hours analyzing the beauty of ten pages. The two collections I read this year are by well established authors and feature clear themes throughout. I loved trying to decipher the connections between each story and the next, only to have it all spelled out in a later story. (see! it pays to read till the end!)
The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hillary Mantel
Mantel is a household name due to her double Man Booker prize series about Thomas Cromwell. While I have yet to finish either Wolf Hall or Bring Up the Bodies, I enjoyed her short story collection. The collection details the private lives of regular British folks. It reads a lot like J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, so if that brand of humor and dryness isn’t your cup of tea, chances are this won’t be either. I ultimately found the collection unsatisfying with rare moments of light.
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
It’s no secret that I am a Margaret Atwood fan; I’ve reviewed Oryx and Crake and The Penelopiad here on the blog. Atwood’s short story collection is brilliant and interconnected in a way only she can manage. She delves into what it means to be a writer, how the past influences our present, and the consequences of not valuing oneself. My obvious favorite between the two collections, Stone Mattress: Nine Tales is a great way to start with Atwood.