We are often quick to disregard the short story, which is strange given that some of our earliest literary history begins in short story form-from Homer to fables to Chaucer to fairy tales-these tales pack a powerful punch about life's difficult lessons. Don't overlook High Lonesome: Selected Stories, 1966 - 2006 by Joyce Carol Oates, an impressive and hard-hitting collection of stories about family, society, and the darker places of our souls. In "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been," probably one of the best short stories ever written, Oates illustrates the vulnerability of adolescence so truthfully the reader is left stunned by the story's chilling outcome (you'll have to read it to find out). Oates was inspired to write the story after reading a true account in Life magazine of a charismatic, fast-talking young man who enticed and then murdered several girls in the desert of Tucson, Arizona in the 1960's. This is characteristic of Oates' style: she observes life intently and then reflects it on the page. In my opinion, Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most brilliant and prolific authors of our time; if short stories aren't your cup of tea, then check out one her novels...she's written nearly 50!
Recommended by Rachel DeBusk