You may also know these forms of storytelling as linked short stories, short story cycles, composite novels, or short story sequences …
… and probably other terms I have missed, but these are the most common, I have found!
This portal is hosted by my own novel in stories – Shade of the Morning Sun – which will also contain reflections on the form in general and recommendations for more linked short story reading!
If by any chance, you are new to this form – novel in stories – check out a more detailed definition here.
While a ‘novel in stories’ is a relatively recent term, arguably invented for marketing purposes, the linked short stories or short story cycle have been there for almost as long as we have had literature.
Classic examples that you might be familiar with include James Joyce’s Dubliners, Sherman Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, and Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time.
My own personal favorite is The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. which was published in 1990. It deals with Vietnam veterans and their experiences both before, during, and after the war.
When it comes to looking for linked short story collections here are some suggestions to get you started:
2) Barnes & Noble currently (2021) has a pretty good category for “novel in stories / linked short stories” with about 300 books, both old and new, which should give you some idea of the variety. Check it out here.
3) Amazon, of course, also has a truckload of listings of these books, but to my knowledge no independent categories for them. You will have to look under “literary fiction” or “short stories” and then search for “linked short stories” or “novel in stories” or the like.
4) There are few lists on Goodreads for this, too, but one of the best I’ve been able to dig up is here. It is an older list, though, and I can’t say for sure if all the books in it fit the criteria for novels in stories or linked short story collections.
I permit myself to assume you may have come here looking for more specific recommendations for reading in this wonderful form, so without further ado, let me get to that.
Below are some of the posts:
I also have a personal reading list on Amazon of novels in stories. It is just an Amazon Wish List made public, because that was the easiest (I don’t get commissions or anything). What I mean is, don’t be fooled that it is a ‘wish list’. It contains both stuff I have read and stuff I want to read based on the previews, so consider it my ‘personal favs and contenders’. You can find it here.
I regularly add new items to this list, so check back from time to time!
If you want to know when I ad more resources to this page and to the site in general – about novels in stories – then do sign up for my newsletter, yes? It is totally free and without any strings and I would never sell your personal email address to anyone, not even friendly Martians.
Obviously, I haven’t read every single novel in stories / short story cycle/collection of linked short stories in existence to compare, but the closest contender I can think of is Elizabeth Strout’s two Olive Kitteridge-books which in total comprise 26 linked short stories. I’ve currently (April 2021) got over 40 full stories out, and plan to write at least 150!
But between us, it doesn’t really matter, does it? I only thought “world’s biggest novel in stories” was a better heading than “Shade of the Morning Sun – presumably bigger than any other linked short story collection and definitely aiming to be so in the future”. I’m sure I can definitely live with being only number two, or perhaps no. 12, or any other number. 🙂
Still a catchy tagline, methinks. 🙂