In school, short stories are a huge part of my life. We’re issued a 10 pound book that’s bursting with plays and short stories and excerpts. We have units dedicated to a group of short stories; we analyze literary concepts or historical context through short stories. Teachers introduce us to famous authors by using their best short story to summarize their skills and styles. They’re quick to read and annotate. It’s easy to read many to get an encompassing overview of whatever is in the lesson. And, you know, kids these days have such a short attention span that a novel would be bordering on cruel and unusual. The period isn’t long enough to teach novels; the kids aren’t interested enough to trudge through more than 100 pages. Short stories are the only path worth taking.
I h a t e s h o r t s t o r i e s.
Maybe that’s a little dramatic. Maybe I’m not being fair and don’t fully understand and appreciate the art of a short story. But, really. I’ve tried to read them; I’ve tried to like them. I just don’t. And I’ve pondered the reason many times, and I’ve come to theory of why I hate them so much.
Due to some peculiar star alignment on the day of my birth, I have an unexplained need to always be productive. Completely type A personality. I’ve explained my lists and bookmarks and general insanity before. I have this reading quirk where I have to read 100 pages in to judge a book, then I feel obligated to finish it after those 100 pages because I don’t want to have wasted my time in reading 100 pages of a book and not getting credit for it.
Credit, you ask? What credit do I get from reading books for fun? Well, my dears, I’ll tell you something crazy. I tally the amount of books I read each month, and if I don’t finish one, I can’t put it on my tally. I FINISH CRAPPY BOOKS JUST TO PUT IT ON MY TALLY. There, I said it. I know, I know. Strange. So, in reference to short stories, they can’t go on my tally because they aren’t novels. And they’re long enough to take a while to read and disrupt my beloved fiction novels, but short enough for me not to feel accomplished for finishing them. It’s a conundrum.
And that is the reason I hate short stories. And by extension, that means I also hate novellas, so it’s pretty upsetting for me to watch the novella grow in popularity.
And my tally isn’t the only reason I dislike short stories. Honestly, I’d rather read a novel where the characters, the themes, the plot, and the style all have time to fully develop and I’m able to engulf myself in a new world. With short stories, I only get a taste, and I feel like the work won’t resonate with me because of its length. Plus, there may be an underlying hatred because I associate them with schoolwork.
Don’t get me wrong, I have liked short stories before. Unfortunately, a majority of the time, I just skim them or just feel like nothing earth-shattering happens that will actually have an affect on me. I always blow off reading stories for homework, and if I do, it doesn’t stay with me the way novels will. I probably just haven’t had great experiences with short stories, and I’m not opposed to reading them, but they aren’t my favorite thing in the world.
Maybe I’ll get over my obsession with being productive and just spend time reading a ton of short stories. My English teacher likes short stories because it requires the author to get his or her point across timely and it can only really focus on one thing (characters, theme, plot…). I prefer to submerse myself in what I read, so her reasoning still turns me off from short stories.
What are your thoughts on short stories?