The best short stories that land a big punch

Who am I?

I’ve always been a fan of short fiction. My debut book, The Escape to Candyland, is a collection of interrelated short stories. It was a finalist in two contests: The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing and Southern Fried Karma Novel Contest. My latest book, Sometimes We Fall, is also a short story collection. It includes several contest winners. I’m working on a third collection which will be published in 2024.

I wrote...

Sometimes We Fall

By Yong Takahashi,

Book cover of Sometimes We Fall

What is my book about?

Sometimes We Fall takes readers into the lives of people searching for self, sense of belonging, and their version of truth: A son protects a secret that could destroy his family's reputation and fortune. A daughter searches for the truth as her mother descends into dementia. A mother asks an unexpected friend to look after the baby she plans to abandon. Their paths are not easy and inevitably they fall. Some pick themselves up and some can’t or won’t as they struggle to find the reason for their failures.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Metamorphosis

Yong Takahashi Why did I love this book?

There are so many layers to The Metamorphosis. At first glance, it is a tale of the main character’s physical transformation into a bug. The real terror is how his family turns into monsters of their own when he becomes a burden to them. After he dies, his family is relieved and moves on to happier places. 

This is one of the only books I have in my library (11 in total). I have several copies of The Metamorphosis, the oldest copy from high school. I hope to buy the illustrated copy next. 

By Franz Kafka, Stanley Corngold (translator),

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Metamorphosis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

“When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

With this  startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny first sentence, Kafka begins his masterpiece, The  Metamorphosis. It is the story of a  young man who, transformed overnight into a giant  beetlelike insect, becomes an object of disgrace to  his family, an outsider in his own home, a  quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing—though  absurdly comic—meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, The  Metamorphosis has taken its place as one  of the most widely read and influential works of  twentieth-century…

Book cover of The Lottery

Yong Takahashi Why did I love this book?

Shirley Jackson is a master of the short story. My favorite is The Lottery. The build-up to the main event is spectacular. The reader thinks the village is getting ready for a normal event. As time passes, we realize what is to come. The themes of tradition and mob mentality are still relevant as we read about current events. 

I paid homage to this story in my own tale which is included in my book

By Shirley Jackson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lottery as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

Book cover of The Yellow Wallpaper

Yong Takahashi Why did I love this book?

I fell in love with The Yellow Wallpaper in high school. It is one of the earliest, if not only, stories we were reading about a woman’s mental health. The protagonist is depressed but is not taken seriously by her husband. He locks her away and ridicules her worries. She goes mad and becomes part of the wallpaper that first disturbed her. 

What first caught my attention is that she is not allowed any mental stimulation including reading and writing. It speaks to society’s expectations of women – they should be content with being wives and mothers, and nothing more.

By Charlotte Perkins Gilman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Yellow Wallpaper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Yellow Wallpaper (original title: "The Yellow Wall-paper. A Story") is a 6,000-word short story by the American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in January 1892 in The New England Magazine. It is regarded as an important early work of American feminist literature, illustrating attitudes in the 19th century toward women's health, both physical and mental.

Presented in the first person, the story is a collection of journal entries written by a woman whose physician husband (John) has rented an old mansion for the summer. Forgoing other rooms in the house, the couple moves into the upstairs nursery. As…

Book cover of If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This: Stories

Yong Takahashi Why did I love this book?

If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This was a finalist for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award. I picked up this short story collection when I started my writing career. Everyone told me short stories weren’t popular. No one read them. Publishers weren’t buying them. 

It took Robin Black eight years to write these ten stories. Each word is exquisite. Penguin Random House bought it. We’re all reading them. 

By Robin Black,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



Heralding the arrival of a stunning new voice in American fiction, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This takes readers into the minds and hearts of people navigating the unsettling transitions that life presents to us all: A father struggles to forge an independent identity as his blind daughter prepares for college. A mother comes to terms with her adult daughter’s infidelity. An artist mourns the end of a romance while painting the portrait of a dying man. Brilliant, hopeful, and fearlessly honest, If I…

Book cover of Full Dark, No Stars

Yong Takahashi Why did I love this book?

Full Dark, No Stars is a collection of four novellas dealing with the theme of retribution. One of the stories, "The Big Driver", is about a writer. I won’t give any spoilers but every time I am asked to attend a writing event, I ask myself if I should go. 

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Full Dark, No Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the master of the long story form, the Sunday Times No. 1 besteller, Full Dark, No Stars - described by the Sunday Telegraph as 'an extraordinary collection, thrillingly merciless, and a career high point' - now with a stunning new cover look.

Is it possible to fully know anyone? Even those we love the most? What tips someone over the edge to commit a crime?

In '1922', a story which was adapted into a Netflix original film, a Nebraska farmer, the turning point comes when his wife threatens to sell off the family homestead.

In 'Big Driver', a cozy…

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Book cover of The Saucer-Heads

George Bixley

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What is my book about?

Hired to track down Finley, the missing boyfriend of tech worker Truax, investigator Slater Ibáñez soon discovers that the job isn’t really what he was asked to do.

The search for Finley leads him to an arcane book and the flying-saucer subculture, where a deep dive takes Slater out into the Mojave Desert, leaving him unsure of the precise boundaries of reality itself. With input from Doris and his operatives, and begrudging help from his romantic partner, Pike, to weasel him out of a jam, Slater cuts a dogged path to sort out what Truax really wants, and what Finley is really up to, all the while juggling high explosives, navigating his deepening narrative complex with Pike, and never failing to throw that punch.

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