Not enough time to read? Read Short Stories, leave novels for later!

Reading short stories if you don't have time literature books

Readers love reading… genre seldom matters. However, when your requirements, constraints, and circumstances matter more than your wish to read, it is wise to become smart. I might be extrapolating the intention of my sentence. However, it does matter. And one has to become smart, rather smarter enough, to understand what suits the situations best. For example, reading a quick but satisfying short story can keep someone refreshed and quench the urge to read rather than being left alone, in torment, whining about what might happen in the next chapter of the novel (spanning around 400 pages). So, what’s wise? Think!

In this article, I will deal with the fact that reading short stories may be wiser when you don’t have the luxury of time. Read carefully if you are a full-time employee or someone who cannot afford to dedicate a few hours to reading per day. Here we go!

Reading short stories differs from reading novels in several significant ways, encompassing aspects such as narrative structure, character development, and thematic depth. Here are some key distinctions between the two forms of literary expression:

1. Length and Time Commitment:
Short Stories: Typically range from a few pages to 20 or 30 pages. They are concise and can be read in one sitting, allowing for a quick and focused literary experience.
Novels: Longer and more extensive, novels can span hundreds of pages. Reading a novel often requires a more extended time commitment, as the narrative unfolds over a more extended period.

2. Character Development:
Short Stories: Due to their brevity, short stories usually have limited space for in-depth character development. Authors must convey a character’s traits and motivations more efficiently.
Novels: Novels offer more room for nuanced character development. Readers often have the opportunity to witness characters evolve and undergo significant changes for the story.

3. Plot Complexity:
Short Stories: Tend to focus on a single, tightly woven plot. Authors often concentrate on a particular theme or conflict, creating a compact and impactful narrative.
Novels: Allow for more intricate and multi-layered plots. Novels can explore various subplots, twists, and turns, providing a more extensive and immersive experience for readers.

4. Narrative Structure:
Short Stories: Typically have a straightforward narrative structure with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Authors need to establish the setting and characters quickly and resolve the central conflict in a condensed format.
Novels: Offer a more expansive canvas for narrative experimentation. Novels can incorporate complex structures, such as multiple perspectives, nonlinear timelines, or parallel storylines, providing a richer storytelling experience.

5. Thematic Exploration:
Short Stories: Often focus on a single theme or idea, exploring it in depth within the constraints of the shorter format.
Novels: These works can delve into multiple themes, allowing for a broader exploration of societal issues, philosophical concepts, and human experiences.

6. Reader Engagement:
Short Stories: Demand a focused and immediate engagement from the reader. The impact is concentrated within a shorter timeframe.
Novels: Provide a more extended engagement, allowing readers to become deeply immersed in the world created by the author. This extended engagement can lead to a more profound connection with the characters and story.


Well, a reader playing the devil’s advocate may deduce that novels may be lasting and more intense but require more time. However, time is our rude friend here. And in such cases, short stories are the only true companions to our rescue. And, if you are curious to know about short stories and the best short story writers around the world, read the list below. You can find books by these well-known authors picked up from various points of time and start reading whenever you find time. It will be minus the worry of remembering sets of characters and the last read page number… 🙂


Authors You Must Read if You Love Short Stories:

1. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849): Known for his macabre and Gothic tales, Poe is a master of the short story. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a classic example of his psychological horror, exploring the mind of a murderer. “The Fall of the House of Usher” showcases his talent for creating a haunting atmosphere.

2. Anton Chekhov (1860-1904): A Russian playwright and short story writer, Chekhov’s stories are celebrated for their subtle characterizations. “The Lady with the Dog” is a poignant exploration of love and infidelity, while “The Cherry Orchard” exemplifies his mastery in capturing the complexities of human nature.

3. Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923): A prominent modernist writer, Mansfield is known for her innovative narrative techniques. “The Garden Party” is a brilliant exploration of class distinctions, while “The Daughters of the Late Colonel” delves into the psychological nuances of grief.

4. Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961): Hemingway’s concise and impactful writing style is evident in stories like “The Old Man and the Sea,” a novella that won him the Pulitzer Prize. “Hills Like White Elephants” is another notable short story known for its subtle exploration of communication and decision-making.

5. Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964): An American writer known for her Southern Gothic style, O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is a darkly humorous and unsettling tale. “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” is another example of her exploration of morality and human nature.

6. Raymond Carver (1938-1988): A key figure in the minimalist short story movement, Carver’s works often focus on the struggles of ordinary people. “Cathedral” is a notable story exploring themes of perception and connection, and “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” is a collection showcasing his minimalist style.

7. Alice Munro (1931-present): A Canadian short story writer, Munro is celebrated for her precise and insightful depictions of everyday life. “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” is a poignant exploration of aging and memory, while “Runaway” delves into complex relationships.

8. Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014): A Colombian author and Nobel laureate, Marquez is renowned for his magical realism. “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is a fantastical exploration of faith and humanity, while “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” showcases his mastery in blending the ordinary with the extraordinary.

9. Jhumpa Lahiri (1967-present): An American author of Indian descent, Lahiri’s stories often explore the immigrant experience. “Interpreter of Maladies” is a collection of poignant tales, with the title story winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. “The Namesake” is another notable work exploring identity and cultural adaptation.

10. Haruki Murakami (1949-present): A Japanese author known for his surreal and imaginative storytelling, Murakami’s short stories, such as those in “The Elephant Vanishes,” often blend reality with elements of fantasy. “The Second Bakery Attack” is a quirky tale that showcases his unique narrative style.



At last, let me say it again, while both short stories and novels are vehicles for storytelling, their differences lie in the depth and scope of the narrative, as well as the level of engagement and commitment required from the reader. Each form has its unique strengths, catering to different preferences and storytelling objectives. When you are falling short in carving a share of time for your literary quest, grip the thicker books with a number of shorty stories rather than a thick one with lonely story! All the best!


By Parmarth for Book Reviews Lab

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