Why You Should Read Short Stories

Estimated read time 4 min read

What is a short story, and why should you read it? Before writing this, I decided to do a quick Google search on the definition of a short story. As is sometimes the case, my search yielded confusion because I found two other words that I had previously thought also meant short stories: novella and novelette.

Here’s what I found:

  1. Short story: over 1,000 words, usually less than 10,000
  2. Novelette: 7,500 to 19,000 words
  3. Novella: 10,000 to 40,000 words.

For this article, I will use the term short story to include novellas and novelettes.

Why should you read short stories?

Convenience in Conciseness

The first reason contains a clue. Short stories are exactly how they present themselves to be: short.

The average reading speed of an adult is about 250-300 words per minute, which means that you will spend around 2 hours reading the lengthiest short story.

Do you find that as you get older, there is less time for your favorite hobby? By reading short stories, you can continue doing what you love while also not missing out on other adulting activities.

Additionally, for those looking to start the habit of reading, short stories are a great way to ease into it. Reading hundreds of pages for a single book can be like facing Smaug, Chiefest of Calamities, but a short story is a small dragon that you can easily conquer.

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Intirigue in Immediacy

Short stories are concise and straight to the point, which is another reason why I enjoy reading them.

Novels, depending on the genre, usually build up to the climax by focusing on character development, world-building, and subplots, among other elements. On the other hand, short stories introduce almost fully formed characters and focus solely on the main story.

Although it can be tricky depending on the author’s skill, a short story can have a powerful impact, leaving you awestruck or feeling a soothing catharsis. A benefit of the brevity of short stories is that it is easy to determine quickly if you like it or not. If you don’t, you haven’t wasted much time on it.

Navigating New Authors

I have found short stories to be an excellent way to get to know an author. Instead of committing to between 50,000 and 100,000 words written by an author you haven’t read before, you can try reading their short stories (if they have any).

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This can serve as a taster and help you decide if they are your cup of tea or not. If they are, you can move on to their novels. As the saying goes, if you can trust someone with the little things, you can probably trust them with the bigger things.

If the author has a collection of short stories, even better, as it can help you determine if they are a one-book wonder. Some authors may tell stories in different settings or styles. A collection of short stories can show you how versatile an author is.

Adventure in Anthologies

Another reason you should read short stories is for anthologies. An anthology is a book of short stories, usually by different authors.

Anthologies are perfect if you are interested in reading about a particular theme, such as Halloween, antiheroes, or the different takes on popular characters like Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple by various authors. I even once read a collection of stories centered on Nigerian identity and culture.

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As you read the different stories on your chosen theme or character, you might even discover a new favorite author. For those of us readers who like to finish what we start, abandoning a collection of stories may be easier to do. After all, it means we might leave a book halfway through but won’t have left a story incomplete.

Rapid Read Quests

Lastly, if you value quantity in your reading, short stories are the way to go. At the beginning of each year, readers all around the world join the Goodreads Reading Challenge and set a goal to read a certain number of books. With short stories, you can reach your goal faster and maybe even read a hundred books.

Wrapping Up

If you are looking to keep up with your love of books, develop the habit of reading, find a new author, read different perspectives on a topic, reach your reading goals, or have never read a short story before, this is your sign to do so.

Come discover the joys of reading short stories!


Meet Nyerhovwo, an avid reader and aspiring polygot. Nyerhovwo spends most of his time reading. He enjoys exploring all genres of fiction except for romance, and is particularly fond of Stephen King and literary fiction. Nyerhovwo is also learning French and loves watching thought-provoking dramas, anime and Korean films.

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