Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books (and Stories) for Non-Short Story Readers!

OK! Another meme I hadn't intended to participate in today, but I am becoming quite addicted to the fun topics presented for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted at The Broke and the Bookish). I swear I'll write a post about something discussiony tomorrow (probably Chunksters). 

So, today's assignment for TTT is to recommend 10 books for readers typically NOT interested in the chosen genre. I read that lots of bloggers don't particularly enjoy short stories. I can understand that -- they're not as developed as novels, but I have found A TON of amazing short stories and short story writers over the years. Many of my favorites came to me through my classes as an undergraduate and later a graduate student in English. Other, more contemporary writers, I've stumbled upon in collections, journals, and sometimes I take the plunge and buy their books based on recommendations (or pretty covers!). These are some of my absolute favorites. I've started with the collections and then transition into individual stories. I've linked all of the short stories to their complete online texts.

No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July. MJ is an artist in many respects (visual, performance, writing), and her stories are the epitome of quirk.  I read this book several, several years ago, and I can still recall specific moments from individual stories. The characters are odd, their situations are often weird, but there's a fun humanity to them. I could relate to them on multiple levels. I need to read more of her stuff, but there's not nearly enough for my taste. 

Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff. I wrote a really in-depth review of this one for Bibliobuffet a few years ago. I was really impressed with the daring in this book as Groff often takes her characters to places I didn't expect. My fave story in the collection was titled "L. Debard and Aliette" and was super fantastic. 

The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy will come as a surprise to absolutely NO ONE who's been hanging around this blog for a minute. Van Booy does imagery like no on else. Some of these stories are ridiculously short, but that doesn't take away from the magic and atmosphere of them.

Little Black Book of Stories by A.S. Byatt is a collection I picked up in 2010 and whipped through. It was my first Byatt undertaking and I could NOT have been more pleased. This collection would really appeal to non-short story readers because of the length of they stories. They're involving.

"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" by Joyce Carol Oates is classic Oates. The characters are quite normal on the surface, but there's a noticeable level of creep that works its way in very quickly. I love using this story with my Intro to Lit students because they think it's boring in the beginning, but as things begin to morph it becomes a very different story. The ending is somewhat ambiguous, but if you tease out the details as presented in the text, it's SO INTERESTING. Also lots of intertexual references and cultural references to the 60s.

"The Horse Dealer's Daughter" by D.H. Lawrence is a good introduction to Lawrence's work if you're not ready to dive into a novel straight away. It's slow building, sensual (in an unexpected way), and a good snapshot of his work.

"Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor was one of those stories I read in high school that made me fall in love with classics. IT'S SO TWISTED, as most of O'Connor's work tends to be. While I have several favorites from O'Connor's short stories, this one takes the cake. My mouth was left hanging open when I read it for the first time. If you like troubled, conflicted characters and lots of play with religious themes, this one is for you.

"Cat in the Rain" by Ernest Hemingway is a story I haven't revisited in quite a while, but our discussion of it in a grad school Modernism class left quite an impression. There's a reason Hemingway's writing is referred to as an iceburg--LOTS hidden just below the surface.

"August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradury. I've raved about this story FOR YEARS!!! If you haven't read it already, just do it. You won't be sorry! It's only four pages long, just doooo itttttt.

"Bloodchild" by Octavia Butler made some of my students want to throw up! It's a science fiction selection, and it's hard to read in spots. However, it's a stunning example of sci-fi as social critique.

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