Let’s be honest: the best way to spend the summer is to be out and about under the sun. We don’t want to waste it by staying indoors because that’s what the rainy season is for.
That’s why it’s probably best to ditch that thousand-word historical novel you’ve been looking forward to and get a handful of short stories instead. Why? Well:
a.) they’re shorter so you’ll have plenty of time left for the beach.
b.) they’re just as meaningful and satisfying as novels.
c.) you’ll have a variety of stories to read rather than sticking to just one story.
With that said, here are the ten short stories to read this summer.
“The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell
Let’s kick off this list with a heart-pounding adventure where the hunter becomes the hunted.
In it, Rainsford finds himself stranded on an island and meets General Zaroff, a fellow hunter who has an insatiable blood lust. Let’s just say it’s not only animals that he’s after. In a twist of fate, Rainsford must now navigate this island and do all that he can to survive the night. The suspense of this classic story is an excellent way to get you hyped for your summer activities.
“The Something by John Grisham” by B.J. Novak
John Grisham’s books make for excellent summer reads. His exciting legal thrillers can perk you up at the beach or keep you on the edge of your plane seat on the way to your summer getaway. With that said, why not read a quick and funny short story that stars the lawyer-turned-novelist?
In this short story by B.J. Novak, Grisham’s latest bestseller accidentally gets published under the name The Something. As expected, hilarity ensues.
“The Other One” by Tessa Hadley
Summer isn’t always about mojitos by the beach. It’s also about self-discovery, and sometimes self-discovery involves wading knee-deep in family secrets. In Tessa Hadley’s short story “The Other One,” the protagonist becomes acquainted with the friend of her late father’s mistress by chance. As you can imagine, it’s an uncomfortable situation to be in, but it’s also a situation that brings peace eventually.
“The Still” by Adam Cesare
Horror isn’t reserved for Halloween. If you don’t believe me, read this story by Adam Cesare. From his collection Bone Broth Meal, it is about two boys who come face-to-face with the horrific source of their precious moonshine.
Despite the gruesomeness of the story, it perfectly captures that one summer everyone experiences where innocence is forever lost.
“The Maiden Voyage” by Tobias Wolff
An old couple celebrates their golden anniversary on a cruise. While on board, they meet a young couple whose principles and values are a world apart from theirs.
This clash of generations is not something we haven’t seen before, but Tobias Wolff tells this story with such deep melancholy and longing. It rewards repeat reads and is a reliable source for your jolt of summertime sadness.
“The Swim Team” by Miranda July
The protagonist of this story – erroneously referred to the other characters as Maria – leads a swim class for a team of geriatrics during her time in Belvedere. It is as fun, quirky, and unique as it sounds. Since this is a piece by Miranda July, you really shouldn’t expect anything less.
“The Prairie Wife” by Curtis Sittenfield
Ever wonder what happens to people after their sultry summer romances end? Curtis Sittenfield offers answers through this short story.
In it, Kirsten just can’t seem to move on from her summer camp fling with Lucy. Then again, no one can really blame her; almost anyone would get hung up on someone if that someone owned a widely successful lifestyle blog and was all over social media.
Sweet and hilarious, Sittenfield shows us the downside of love in the summer.
“Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid
Jamaica Kincaid’s one-page wonder is a list of what not to do in order to become a lady worth respecting. The sarcasm and rage is so palpable that instead of feeling down because of society’s restrictions on women, you feel empowered and ready to take on anything by the end of the story. That’s always a good mood to be in, but most especially in the heat of the summer.
“A Good Man is Hard To Find” by Flannery O’Connor
Not all family vacations end with photos full of smiles that would end up on the living room mantel. Some of them – as Flannery O’Connor displays here – end in an early grave.
This classic follows a family who goes on a trip to Florida despite the grandmother’s warnings about the recently escaped killer, the Misfit. Without spoiling too much, let me just say this: always listen to your grandmothers. They really know what’s best for you.
“The Body” by Stephen King
I know this is cheating sort-of (this a novella but it’s still part of Stephen King’s short story collection Different Seasons) but I just can’t leave this out of a list of summer reads. Stephen King’s coming-of-age tale about four boys who decide to inspect the corpse of a 12-year-old masterfully illustrates the strength of friendship and what happens when innocence is lost.
Before heading out, make sure you have these stories packed along with your travel essentials to make this the summer you’ll never forget.