The best short stories for when spare time is short

Who am I?

Short stories suit the speed of modern society. I began writing them as a child and began to get them published in magazines. My first collection of stories in 2009 got quite a lot of press in the UK and two more collections followed. Initially, they were darkly-themed backfiring scenarios for the anti-hero and I redressed the balance in Out on Top. We all deserve some good Karma!


I wrote...

Out on Top – A Collection of Upbeat Short Stories

By Steve Morris,

Book cover of Out on Top – A Collection of Upbeat Short Stories

What is my book about?

Get your own back. Out on Top is a bag of stories where wrongs are often put right. Instead of dwelling on what might have been, characters get their chances to rectify their regrets and scores are sometimes slyly settled.

The books I picked & why

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The Complete Short Stories of H.G. Wells

By H.G. Wells,

Book cover of The Complete Short Stories of H.G. Wells

Why this book?

During a lengthy hospital stay once, I needed to escape. Magazines were formulaic and newspapers dark. This book materialized on a library trolley. A plain dark blue hard cover looking dull and aged amongst the same-old paperbacks. After only the first story of this magical collection I was hooked away from all around me and into Wells’ tales of incredible imagination. Wells’ other shorts have become well known to the masses but here contained over forty lesser-known proto-sci-fi gems. In the way that Dickens did with characters that others could not, Wells was not constrained by conventions of science. The thought-provoking The Door in the Wall and The Red Room remain today are examples of skill for all contemporaries to aspire to.

The Complete Short Stories of H.G. Wells

By H.G. Wells,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Short Stories of H.G. Wells as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A collection of short stories by one of the greatest science fiction writers of the 20th century, H.G. Wells.


Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick

By Philip K. Dick,

Book cover of Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick

Why this book?

This was recommended to me as having been the lyrical inspiration to songs by several musical artists I was listening to in my teens. To this day I am still baffled and impressed as to where on Earth Dick ever found the ideas for some of these stories. Almost experimental in their nature, particularly at the time of writing, and breaking ground as he went along, P. K. Dick’s skill of crafting chilling perspective scenarios again and again have, become popular film plots. In this book and his other short story collections, you can feast on many more deeply original plots, any number of which could be made into Hollywood films. Many years ahead of his time and almost predicting the disposable instantaneous world we would live in, Dick’s short stories almost arrived from the future themselves. I think he had the edge on dialogue too. I don’t own a TV and like Wells, Dick’s stories work particularly well when adapted for radio. Stories such as "Meddler" and "Roog" can only ever come from a talent such as Dick.

Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick

By Philip K. Dick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick contains twenty-one of Dick’s most dazzling and resonant stories, which span his entire career and show a world-class writer working at the peak of his powers.

In “The Days of Perky Pat,” people spend their time playing with dolls who manage to live an idyllic life no longer available to the Earth’s real inhabitants. “Adjustment Team” looks at the fate of a man who by mistake has stepped out of his own time. In “Autofac,” one community must battle benign machines to take back control of their lives. And in “I Hope I Shall…


The Golden Apples of the Sun

By Ray D. Bradbury,

Book cover of The Golden Apples of the Sun

Why this book?

You probably know more Ray Bradbury stories than you think. I first became aware of Ray Bradbury after hearing some of his stories adapted for radio (I don’t own one of those TV box things). Here was another great imagination. Bradbury was another craftsman in the trade of short stories and had started writing them from the age of 12. The Golden Apple of the Sun is a 1953 collection that contains stories such as "The Fog Horn" which ended up being adapted for the cinema as The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. Despite being written some time ago these stories are skilled and fresh today. Other short story collections by Bradbury with their links to The Twilight Zone will also impress you with their sheer original range of horror and paranoia. 

The Golden Apples of the Sun

By Ray D. Bradbury,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Golden Apples of the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ray Bradbury is a modern cultural treasure. His disarming simplicity of style underlies a towering body of work unmatched in metaphorical power by any other American storyteller. And here, presented in a new trade edition, are thirty-two of his most famous tales--prime examples of the poignant and mysterious poetry which Bradbury uniquely uncovers in the depths of the human soul, the otherwordly portraits of outré fascination which spring from the canvas of one of the century's great men of imagination. From a lonely coastal lighthouse to a sixty-million-year-old safary, from the pouring rain of Venus to the ominous silence of…


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

By Arthur Conan Doyle,

Book cover of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Why this book?

What an atmospheric set of stories. When I first read these as a boy, I remember I never wanted the book to end. There are several Sherlock Holmes collections but this was the first I read. At the start of the book I couldn’t quite relate to "A Scandal in Bohemia," but some of his more famous stories such as "The Red-Headed League" and "The Five Orange Pips" are contained within this collection. Some of the film adaptations are only loosely based on these stories so they are well worth the read. The character of Holmes in particular is richer and stronger in the stories than it is portrayed in the many films. You can almost taste the pipe tobacco and London fogs. The sense of class division is apparent throughout. It must have been a good time to live, so long as you were one of the gentry. Holmes’ human shortcomings are also apparent when in need of mental stimulation in an age a century before media came to entertain us. Narrated by Dr. Watson, memorable characters such as Inspector Lastrade make their first appearances in this volume. Essential reading and will continue to be so!

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

By Arthur Conan Doyle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is there a more enduring, legendary detective than Sherlock Holmes?
This quintessential collection includes many of the famous cases that made the legendary Sherlock Holmes one of fiction's most popular creations. Set against the foggy backdrop of London and the English countryside, each story unravels an exciting new mystery, from mistaken identity and ominous omens to counterfeit currency and jewellery theft. Including 'A Scandal in Bohemia', 'The Five Orange Pips', 'The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle', 'The Speckled Band' and 'The Final Problem', the collection follows Sherlock Holmes and John Watson on some of their most enjoyable cases.
First published…


Sketches by Boz

By Charles Dickens,

Book cover of Sketches by Boz

Why this book?

This is often overlooked by readers of Dickens. I think the term “sketches” is important here at a point where Dickens was still experimenting with his art and particularly his characters which were always going to be his greatest strength. Sketches by Boz is a collection of fascinatingly detailed insights into London life intertwined in episodes (or scenes) as Dickens terms it through a richly caricatured study of a set of interesting lives of the working classes, in a way that only Dickens has ever been able to do. The “sketches” had, prior to this, been serialized in weekly installments (the soap operas of the day). Dickens had experienced sufficient highs and lows of social mobility in his own life to fully qualify his portrayals. "The Tuggses at Ramsgate" is perhaps for me the most memorable but the whole volume is bursting with energetic individuality and character. I have always deliberately left reading Dickens’ work until the winter to add to the atmosphere. How London has changed from this, and not all of it for the better!

Sketches by Boz

By Charles Dickens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sketches by Boz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was an English short story writer, dramatist, essayist, and the most popular novelist to come from the Victorian era. He created some of the most iconic characters and stories in English literature, including Mr. Pickwick from "The Pickwick Papers", Ebenezer Scrooge from "A Christmas Carol", David Copperfield, and Pip from "Great Expectations", to name a few. Dickens' began by writing serials for magazines, and from 1833-1836 he used the pseudonym Boz, taken from a childhood nickname for his younger brother. "Sketches by Boz" contains 56 stories and, like most of Dickens' work, vividly portrayed the lives of…


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