Speed reading: Short stories for students on the run
Eric Prister | Wednesday, September 30, 2009
On a list of priorities for college students, pleasure reading is likely not near the top. It can however be a great way to take one’s mind off mindless homework. Starting an entire novel is probably out of the question, though, because time is limited. Reading short stories is an excellent way to remedy this problem and still partake in the benefits of reading something for enjoyment.
For those who have little experience with short stories or their authors, here are some recommendations with which to start.
Though his novel writing may not be of the highest quality, Stephen King does an excellent job with his short stories, and has written numerous volumes of them. His short story “Battlefield” is an excellent example of his fine work. It follows an army assassin as he arrives home from a job and receives a package containing toy soldiers, which come to life. Also recommended is “One for the Road,” which takes place in a small town that is being ravaged by a snowstorm, and an old bartender’s attempt to save a stranded family from both the snowstorm, and something far more dangerous.
Connell’s well-known short story is the often-read “The Most Dangerous Game.” One of the most famous short stories, “The Most Dangerous Game” tells the story of Sanger Rainsford, a big-game hunter from New York who is shipwrecked on an island and experiences an entirely new version of hunting at the hands of the owner of the island, General Zaraoff. This is a must read for the few who have not already done so.
The most popular Jacobs short story is “The Monkey’s Paw,” an interesting take on the story of someone granted three wishes and the problems that they can cause. Mr. and Mrs. White, the main characters of “The Monkey’s Paw,” receive the talisman from an old friend, who tells them that it grants them these wishes. He gives them this description, which is only foreshadowing for what is to come: “It had a spell put on it by an old fakir…a very holy man. He wanted to show that fate ruled people’s lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow.”
The author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach,” Dahl also wrote a compilation of short stories, which included his most famous, “The Landlady.” Known for writing twists, Dahl masterfully does so in this story about a man and his encounter at the Bell and Dragon, a small bed and breakfast. For those who enjoy stories with a twist, “The Landlady” is an excellent choice.
Hector Hugo Munro, known by his pen-name Saki, is considered one of the best short stories writers of all time. “The Open Window” is a good place to start, and shows how good Saki is at making the reader learn one thing, only to have that completely turned on its head. Framton Nuttel comes to call on a friend of his mother’s, and talks with her daughter Vera, who tells a very interesting story concerning the large open window in the house. Saki keeps his readers guessing as to who is trustworthy in the story.
These are only a few recommendations for places to start entering the world of short stories. By the nature of their length, short stories are often published in compilations, so one should find an author that he or she likes, and then explore to find his or her favorites.