By Pauline Bird, Emily De Vogele and Cameron Phillips
Sometimes life is so hectic and busy that we don’t have time to listen to a full audiobook. Or, alternatively, you might want a break from a long-winded audiobook, and you want to listen to something short and quick. Short story collections help round out your yearly goal, while also keeping you entertained in shorter bites of stories. During the busy months of summer where days seem to slip by, short story collections are perfect for those hazy nights and warm mornings. Here are our recommendations for short story audiobook collections.
I love spending time reading to my children. Like many busy families, the best time for us to read them is at bedtime. Unfortunately, by the time it rolls around we are often exhausted and sometimes don’t have the energy for the repeated ‘one more story’ requests. We felt this especially keenly when we had COVID-19. During that time, this week’s share ended up being an absolute lifesaver.
Bedtime Stories for 6 Year Olds, published by Puffin Books, is a selection of short stories specifically designed to be listened to before bed, helping the listener to wind down before falling asleep. It is filled with soothing sound effects and music, and the gentle stories were perfect for my daughter who has just turned five. Some of the stories are longer than others, so we listened to them over two nights, but I imagine by age six she would probably manage the longer stories more easily – when her attention span has increased. The storylines, however, were fine for her and she was fully engaged with each one.
This collection meant that I could cuddle up with my daughter, as I usually would when reading her a story, but was spared the performing aspect of reading aloud when feeling my worst. I’d recommend this as an alternative to traditional story-time if your child enjoys calming and gentle stories before bed.
If, like me, you struggle to read classics, I have the perfect recommendation for you. Short Stories: The Vintage Collection by Audible is bite sized short stories from classic authors, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Hardy and P.G. Wodehouse. Each story comes in anywhere from fifteen to forty-five minutes, meaning you can choose the story you want to listen to depending on how much time you have. They range in genres, from character-based stories to more emotive, descriptive pieces.
I always struggle reading classics as the language often doesn’t match the modern version of English that we use nowadays. Having a classic read to me, or in this case, narrated, helps me to digest the story and understand what is happening, and this couldn’t be truer for this short story collection. The list of narrators includes names like Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, who help to bring these stories to life.
The entire collection comes in at just under eight hours, making it perfect for a few days listening, or if you want to stretch it out over a few weeks. Each story is entirely separate and isolated, meaning you can hit pause and play whenever suits you, and you don’t need to remember characters or locations or plots from previous chapters. My personal favourite was 'Pat Hobby Does His Bit' by F. Scott Fitzgerald. As with all his stories, his writing comes alive, thanks to the narration from Kerry Shale. It’s a shorter story, but one that’s full of character, life and charm.
I wanted to explore more of the horror genre, and I was so intrigued when I first learned about cosmic/lovecraftian horror. It sounded so unique, but also extremely abstract. Now that I am older, I can immerse myself in the genre and I absolutely love it. HP Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction is a large collection of short stories written by Lovecraft. A quite brilliant collection of his best work, I chose to listen to three stories just to settle myself into the genre: ‘The Call of Cthulhu,’ ‘Shadow Over Innsmouth,’ and ‘The Dunwich Horror.’
Narrated by John Miller, Paul Phillips and Adrian Griffin, these are definitely the most accessible windows into Lovecraft’s work. Listening to the cosmic horror and Lovecraft’s style of writing is surreal. The way he simultaneously describes the indescribable whilst giving substance to the tale he is telling is utterly bizarre, even more so when it is read aloud to you. It is a work of colour, shape, form, slime, tendrils, time and space, parallel by the nothingness of the Old Ones that tear at the fabric of humanity's sanity.
It is magnificent, and I can’t wait to dive into the obscurity that is HP Lovecraft. There is plenty more that the collection has to offer as well. Its value is well worth the money.