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Top 5 Short Story And Poetry Reads of 2021

My final bookish wrap-up for 2021 includes short story and poetry collections. While I read more of the former, there was a standout poetry collection I had to include. As a short story writer, I find myself reading more and more short stories, whether by the same author or in anthologies or literary magazines. Reading them helps me hone my own skills too. Here are my top 5 reads for the year:

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Unaccustomed Earth was my very first book by Jhumpa Lahiri and I read it at the start of 2021. It has continued to stay with me. Lahiri’a short stories are set in the US, India and Europe, following migrant families as they adjust to expectations and life in the US. They are about relationships and connections. They are about people and it’s my favourite type of book. The last few stories in this collection are a novella and again, the depth of the relationships and the characters are incredible.

How Decent Folk Behave by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke’s poetry collection How Decent Folk Behave is one that gives you goosebumps, makes your eyes prickle, fills you with rage but then also, leaves you with a sense of hope. Clarke covers themes spanning climate change, feminism, chronic pain, racism, misogyny – all relevant issues today. She does so with finesse & fight. Her ability to tell lyrical stories is absolutely incredible & she manages to evoke multitude of feelings in the reader. It’s a collection that compels you to reflect, to think, to want to make a change. It’s one that needs to be read out loud & proud. 

Dark as last night by Tony Birch

Tony Birch’s latest short story collection, Dark as Last Night is about human relationships and connections. These stories are about ordinary people in everyday situations, feeling all the feelings that life brings with it. Some favourites were ‘After life’, ‘Lemonade’, ‘The Librarian’ and the title story. Stories like these make me have faith in humankind.

Australia Day by Melanie Cheng

Australia Day is a collection of short stories set in Melbourne. Each story follows different people at different stages in their lives and explores human behaviour, race, and class issues but ultimately, everyone’s need to belong. The common thread tying all individuals or different cultures, ages, and class is that – wanting to belong. Melanie Cheng’s novel was one of my favourites last year and her short stories didn’t disappoint this year.

Help Yourself by Curtis Sittenfeld

Help Yourself is a collection of three short stories about human behaviour with a specific focus on gender, class, and racial issues. I read this collection at the start of 2021 and was hooked by Sittenfeld’s writing style, humour, her ability to discuss serious issues with compassion, and her astute observation of human behaviour and interactions. I am looking forward to reading her other collection of short stories next year.

There you have it! My wrap-up of all my favourite reads of the year. In case you missed it before, I also shared my favourite fiction and nonfiction reads of the year.

Have you read any of these books?

Until next time,

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