[#RapplerReads] Captivating short story and essay collections to get you back into reading

Saab Lariosa

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[#RapplerReads] Captivating short story and essay collections to get you back into reading
Achieve your 2023 reading goals with these page-turners

Editor’s note: #RapplerReads is a project by the BrandRap team. We earn a commission every time you shop through the affiliate links below.

Sometimes, shorter is better.

POV: You’re staring at your bookshelf and trying to will yourself into getting back into that novel you’ve been trying to finish for weeks, nay, months. You stare at all the books you’ve read and the ever-growing TBR pile. You resign back to your phone, accepting the fact that you’re in a reading slump.

Hey, we’ve all been there. Taking a hiatus from reading doesn’t mean you’re no longer a bookworm, and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t bring back that drive to read.

If one of your New Years’ resolutions is to reignite that fire, a short story or essay collection could be your best bet to get back on the saddle. Unlike grandiose novels, short pieces with fascinating characters and quick resolutions could likely get you back to reading well after the pages are done. 

They could also help if you’re feeling overwhelmed with long prose.  Bite-sized entries will help you keep track of your reading count (if you’re that type of reader).

Prepare your shelves, here are some captivating short reads that will have you grabbing the next book… and the next… and the next.

How To Grieve by Jade Mark Capiñanes

Who doesn’t love reading about the rise and fall of relationships – what more if it’s in the context of Filipino references like Jolly Spaghetti, (metaphorically) cold bus rides to the province, and every emotion in between? 

This short yet hard-hitting collection of stories from up-and-coming writer Jade Mark Capiñanes captures how everyday objects can remind us of loves lost, found, and forgotten. It’s a quick yet memorable read for book lovers and, well, lovers in general.

Bliss Montage by Ling Ma

Sometimes, you just need a “WTF did I just read” moment to get you back into reading. ‘Severance’ Author Ling Ma is back with eight wonderfully weird stories of the human condition that will likely keep you up all night. They’re not weird because they’re particularly out-of-this-world, mind you, but because of how real she tackles toxic relationships, motherhood, and more.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Do you remember your childhood home? Your playmates, the families, the first crushes? Though there’s much to be said about the spaces we had growing up, no one writes it quite like Sandra Cisneros. This delightfully warm short read chronicles the people and experiences she had as a young girl before she moves into ‘A House of My Own.’

Though it’s technically a novel, the parts are broken up into very short sections that will have you finished in no time.  

Sorry, Please, Thank You by Charles Yu

Similar to ‘Bliss Montage,’ this short story collection also tackles the human condition, but introduces wacky high-concept elements that perfectly captured this sci-fi lover’s heart. 

The stories range from someone working in the “grief industry,” a first-person narrative about a video game protagonist, to a how-to on asking out your coworker… in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

No matter your take on John Green and his widely famous “I was a drizzle, she was a hurricane” quotes, one can’t deny that he knows how to write. Here, John takes a pause from fiction to write reviews about, well, everything. 

With the Anthropocene meaning our current geological age, John takes time to thoughtfully review everything from Halley’s Comet, QWERTY keyboards, air conditioners, to the notes app.

His reviews are both rich in detail and fascinatingly personal, as he wrote most of the book amid the pandemic. As an avid John Green reader in my teens, reading this also felt like talking to an old friend again. He and I might have changed over the years, but I could still listen to him talk for hours. In the words of Green himself, I give ‘The Anthropocene Reviewed’ five stars.

Whether you have a target count this year or simply want to get back to the craft, these collections will prove that reading is a love that you can return to at any time.  – Rappler.com

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Saab Lariosa

Saab Lariosa is a content producer for Rappler’s BrandRap.