In college I discovered a love for short stories. Since then, I find I'm always either listening to or picking up short stories or collections of short stories and reading them. I think I've learned the most about writing from reading short stories. So, I was delighted when I heard about The Short Story Reading Challenge. For myself, I'm going to aim at reading five collections over the year. In addition, I want to read at least ten "new to me" short story authors.
I encourage everyone to check out short stories. They can be found everywhere if you look - magazines, books, or websites. Also, if you like to listen to stories, check out PRI Selected Shorts podcasts. They do weekly readings of a wide variety of short stories. It takes an incredible amount of talent to write a story in so few words and, at the same time, move your readers. These authors have amazing talent and I feel that they get overlooked in our society devoted almost entirely to the long novel.
If you're wondering where to start, I recommend Flannery O'Conner. She's one of my favorites. I visited her home three years ago. Below is a picture I took of a barn on her property. When I look at the picture, I can see the scenes from Good Country People playing out.