Design

Four Fun Things

Alice Munro Dear Life

Whenever I go to the bookstore, I usually head straight to the memoir section, then literary fiction, then psychological thrillers, then cookbooks… but never short stories. It seems like a lot of effort to dig into a story just to have it end abruptly — especially compared to a novel or memoir you can sink your teeth into. But! All this changed when I cracked a copy of Dear Life, a collection of stories by Nobel-Prize-winning author Alice Munro. I’ve been reading it before bed, and each story feels quiet and quotidian, until suddenly you gasp and clutch your heart. The New York Times calls her “one of the great short story writers not just of our time but of any time,” and I can see why. (Any other recs?) — Joanna

LaTonya Yvette

Do you have a favorite photo that someone took of you? Writer LaTonya Yvette recently asked that lovely question. Her own treasured snapshot was taken as she chatted with a friend at a birthday picnic. I love those rare photos where you recognize yourself. — Joanna

Computer

When I first broke out this mini screen cleaner at a Cup of Jo meeting, you might’ve thought I was Edison showing them a lightbulb for the first time. Oh my gosh! What is that? So cool! You spray the lipstick-size cleaning mist on a laptop or phone screen, then use the spongy sides to squeegee the screen dry. I know! It’s the smallest most boring-sounding thing. But, trust me, it infuses a surprising amount of satisfaction into the everyday. — Jenny

On a recent road trip with my 17-year-old daughter, we listened to an old episode of the Dear Sugars podcast, featuring writer Gemma Hartley. The topic was “invisible work” (aka “mental load” and “emotional labor”), which describes the endless number of tasks we (mostly women) do that go unseen yet take up an enormous amount of psychic energy. Think: replenishing laundry detergent, scheduling doctor’s appointments, making sure your kid has shoes for the bat mitzvah… I could go on and on, as I’m sure you can, too. I thought I’d listen to the episode and feel resentful, but instead I also felt validated. Why? Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing the invisible work for so long and I know how those little things add up to something bigger, or maybe it’s because my daughter looked at me and asked “You do all that?” Either way, it felt good. — Jenny

P.S. More fun things, and 6 great podcasts.

(Computer photo by Franny Eremin. Podcast photo by Peter King of Christine Harris wearing Auralgard II Ear Defenders in London.)

  1. Lisa says...

    On short stories…I totally feel the same. But, I just picked up Curtis Sittenfeld’s, “You Think It, I’ll Say It”. SO GOOD. You will not be disappointed. She really knows how to bring strange observations (that we may all have?) to life in writing.

  2. Krista says...

    I love short stories! They are perfect for the “keep a book in your bag at all times” philosophy, too;) Everyone else has already mentioned my favorites, but I would second the recos to read ANYTHING by Lorrie Moore (Like Life is one of my faves), George Saunders, and Raymond Carver. One of the best new short story collections I have read is Heads of the Colored People, by Nafissa Thompson-Spires. She is absolutely a rising literary star. Check it out!

  3. TL says...

    I cannot recommend Ted Chiang enough. His collection of short stories is called Stories of your Life. His story “Story of your Life” was the basis for the movie Arrival. I’m not a huge science fiction reader, BUT THESE STORIES were so emotional, breathtaking, and honestly some of the most astounding pieces I’ve ever read.

  4. Emily R Hylden says...

    The master: Flannery O’Connor.

  5. Shannon says...

    Short stories are my love!
    A few recommendations:
    Florida
    You Think it I’ll Say it
    Anything is Possible
    Barbara the Slut and Other People
    Mendocino and other stories
    Swim Back to Me

  6. Chris N. says...

    I also am late to the enjoyment of short stories – maybe when I was younger they reminded me of school and felt like an assignment. I stumbled across a short story collection at Goodwill – “Cowboys are my Weakness” by Pam Houston and wow, the writing floored me.

  7. Alice says...

    ‘to room nineteen’ by Doris Lessing is the greatest collection of short stories I’ve ever laid my hands on…and I’ve read so, so many volumes.

    I don’t get on with her long form, though I know it’s brilliant. But these….

  8. NK says...

    Jhumpa Lahiri Jhumpa Lahiri Jhumpa Lahiri! Oh my. She is wonderful. All of her stories just made me feel like I was THERE, in the moment, in the emotion. What is most impressive to me is there’s often nothing exceptional about the setting or person. But man…she gets it. I also read some Raymond Carver short story collections, which I enjoyed too.

  9. Meg says...

    Hooray for the short story.
    I’ve read all of Munro and return to Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, over and over again.
    AMY HEMPEL – such incredible, poignant observations, painful and illuminating.
    LORRIE MOORE – hilarious, awkward and brilliant. (Her novel was disappointing)
    Also George Sanders, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Lucia Berlin….

  10. Bianca says...

    My favourite photo of me was taken for an international student ID card. It’s a black and white photo and I look happy and excited. I was 22 years old. I had just had my heart broken so I decided to book a somewhat last-minute trip to London, England. My plan was to live and work in London for most of the summer and do a bit of travelling in Europe. I had no idea where I was going to live or work but I had a student work visa and I was feeling hope in full force. It was a very formative time for me. I kept the ID card because that photo reminds me that I can always just “go for it”. I’m 35 years old now with two young kids so I can’t quite book a flight to Europe on a whim but I can “go for it” …whatever ‘it’ is!

  11. Mari says...

    I was introduced to short stories by Bharati Mukherjee (East Indian insight) in a women’s literature class. Very sweet, perfect, just enough to satisfy you!

  12. Mags says...

    I adore short stories — they are pretty much the only thing I can read since having kids because they don’t last too long and I don’t get too engrossed in the story that I start being a bad mom (that totally happened when I was reading Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan Quartet — I’d stay up all night reading and then not want to be near my kids the next day). And Alice Munro is my favorite, so just read all of her books!

  13. Michelle says...

    I adore short stories. My absolute favorites are:

    Interpreter of Maladies
    Girl Trouble
    Hemingway’s Snows of Kilimanjaro

  14. JoAnne Kelly says...

    Oh thank you Zara! I’m “one of your people” who is, sadly, missing out.
    But I’m going to correct that this weekend…
    I’m going to slip into my local bookshop and look for your suggestions. I think short stories are exactly what I need to add to my often chopped-up-feeling days.
    Thank you friend!

    • Yessss! I’m so happy to hear this, Joanne! There are so many great short story writers on our side of the border. If you end up liking those, here are a few other faves:

      And Also Sharks – Jessica Westhead
      Hellgoing – Lynn Coady
      The Old Familiar – Alix Hawley
      The Dark and Other Love Stories – Deborah Willis
      Daydreams of Angels – Heather O’Neill

      Also, I have this interesting collection of micro-fiction called Kilter by John Gould. They are super short stories, just a few lines or paragraphs. It took me awhile to find the groove of reading them, but they are perfect if you just need a little bite. Tiny stories.

      Happy reading :)

  15. Tori says...

    Anon – don’t worry…it’s still worth it!! <3 I love my husband so much! He brings so much joy to my life.

  16. Edith Wharton‘s New York Stories!

  17. XYZ says...

    Alice Munro’s stories are a joy to read. Amongst her collections, Runaway is like having a blast of fresh country air. Raymond Carver’s stories are also fun. If you want to read more stories like Alice Munro, I would recommend Anton Chekhov, Rabindranath Tagore, Premchand and Lorrie Moore.

  18. Heidi Benson says...

    OMG! Alice Munro was required high school in my (Canadian) grade 11 English class. Please also read “the moons of jupiter” and “away from her” – a beautiful short story of Alice Munro’s made into a lovely movie from another brilliant Canadian artist.
    happy reading!

  19. Alina says...

    My very favourite short story collection is Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. Each story is so beautiful and unique, but it doesn’t have that sense of “oh wait, it’s over already?” that sometimes happens to me while reading a short story collection.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a ringing endorsement! i can’t wait to read it this week. thank you so much, alina.

    • Leah says...

      Just finished unaccustomed earth upon your recommendation and loved it! Thank you

  20. E says...

    Lucia Berlin. Her short stories are like having a long conversation with a wise and interesting woman. They remind me of my godmother.

    • maria says...

      YES! Lucia Berlin is just amazing. “A manual for cleaning ladies” is one of my favourite books <3

  21. Alana says...

    ROAR by Cecelia Ahern is a great short story book – it just recently came out in US

  22. Short stories: Just finished “Florida” by Lauren Groff and it was fantastic. I didn’t love “Fates and Furies” -I found the characters so unlikeable-but LOVED Florida. Also couldn’t put down Curtis Sittenfeld’s “You say it, I’ll think it.”

    • Megan says...

      YES! Florida was FANTASTIC. I read it last year and I was thinking about purchasing it to have on my shelf…such an incredibly evocative set of stories that are pulsing with the atmosphere of Florida (not like, “Florida Man” Florida, thankfully). I was so impressed.

  23. Julie Haller says...

    An old but beautiful collection of short stories by Robert Olin Butler titled, “A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain” is so worth taking the time to read! It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993.

  24. Daniela says...

    There’s two great Argentinian writers specialized in short but strong stories and I believe they have been translated to English (though I can’t assure it would be the same): Samanta Schwebling and Claudia Piñeiro, I deeply recommend them!

  25. Colleen says...

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes to Jhumpa Lahiri. I’ve read everything I can find of hers, what a talent.

  26. ABC says...

    The mental load is exactly why I chose to not have children. I have zero desire to take on more than I currently do.

  27. Mandy says...

    Ronald DAHL short stories are wicked!

  28. Oh, Joanna. You have been missing out! Short stories are my absolute fave–delicious little sneaky treasures. Since you’ve met my girl, Alice, here are a few more from my people (the Canadians):

    This Cake is for the Party – Sarah Selecky
    Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures – Vincent Lam
    Better Living through Plastic Explosives – Zsuzsi Gartner

    Happy reading!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you!!!!!!

  29. Marissa says...

    Love love love short stories. I just began You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian (of Cat Person fame). It is really good so far- self-aware, exploring power dynamics, human frailty, surprising, rings true. I have high hopes.

    Alice Munro is a fave and like many others, I also endorse Interpreter of Maladies, Florida, Tenth of December, You Think It, I’ll Say It.

    In the same year I read Dear Life I also read a slew of other excellent short story collections including Redeployment by Phil Kay, The Other Language by Francesca Marciano, The Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood, and Bobcat and Other stories by Rebecca Lee.

    Heads of Colored People, Improvement by Joan Silber, What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky, The Girl of the Lake: Stories by Bill Roorbach, In the Country by Mia Alvar, and The Toughest Indian in the World by Sherman Alexie are also highly recommended. And Chekhov’s Ward 6. :)

    Now to Check out that Lucia Berlin book again to give it a second chance.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Yes yes yes to The Other Language, In the Country and What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky. All three are superb. I’ll check out your recommendations, starting with Heads of the Colored People which I’ve been meaning to read. Our tastes appear to be similar. You should check out You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld and Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy if you haven’t already. I think you’ll enjoy them. And do give the Lucia Berlin a second chance. She’s an incredible talent.

  30. Jill says...

    Love Alice Munro! I have also recently loved Florida by Lauren Groff – mothers and women will especially love this collection of short stories.

    Another podcast to try is Literary Affairs presents Beyond the Book. It features conversations with writers, including an episode with Lauren Groff. Full disclosure, I produce the podcast but I would listen to it even if I didn’t! ;-)

  31. Kristin says...

    Short story collection recommendation- You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld. Such an interesting group of stories! Highly recommend.

  32. Hi Joanna! I’m currently rereading George Saunders’ Tenth of December, because I have tickets to hear him speak at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. His style simply inspires me. Just read his first short, Victory Lap, and it will stay with you.

  33. Bree says...

    Joanna! I have been waiting my whole life for someone to request short story recommendations! (And as a Canadian Lit scholar I am so happy to hear Munro is the one who changed your mind about the genre!). Here’s a few collections I adore:

    The Dead Husband Project by Sarah Mehan Sirk
    Birds of a Lesser Paradise by Megan Mayhew Bergman
    Self Help by Lorrie Moore
    Light Lifting by Alexander McLeod
    Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee

    Happy reading!

    • Ess says...

      I absolutely LOVE Self Help by Lorrie Moore! Perfect stories to read before drifting off to sleep. I actually first learned of it on a post by Caroline on COJ years ago. I’ll have to check out these other collections :)

  34. DAMLA says...

    Joanna,
    First off, thank you very much for all the book and article recommendations throughout the years. You are my “lobster” when it comes to books <3

    I also wanted to recommend a podcast I discovered recently. It's called "3 Books with Neil". Each episode, Neil talks to his guest about his/her 3 most formative books and why these books had such an impact for them. In a recent episode, Jonathan Fields named Paul's book "When Breath Becomes Air" as one of his three most formative books and I got teary eyed remembering Paul and his book.
    https://www.3books.co/chapters/24

    All in all a good source for your to-read list.

    Happy reading!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, how sweet you are!!!! and thank you so much for this recommendation.

      PS if we are book soulmates, i’d love to hear your favorites!

    • Damla says...

      With pleasure!
      At the top of my head, here are a few of my favourites:

      You Think It, I’ll Say It, Curtis Sittenfeld
      Behold the dreamers, Mbue, Imbolo
      Being there, Jerzy Kosinski
      All my friends are superheros , Andrew Kaufman
      Japanese lover, Isabel Allende
      Jamilia by Chingiz Aitmatov
      The Giver, Lowry, Lois

      Also, here are my recent holiday-reads: (I remember your post about reading dark novels over holidays and since then, I switched to light holiday books and have been enjoying my holidays more haha)

      The Kiss Quotient, Hoang, Helen
      Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Honeyman, Gail
      Still Me, Moyes, Jojo

      I hope you enjoy :)

    • Damla, thank you for shouting out my podcast 3 Books! Heart emoji, heart emoji, prayer hands emoji. And big blue heart emoji to Joanna, too. I love this site! (PS. I loved DEAR LIFE and would also recommend IN THE GARDEN OF NORTH AMERICAN MARTYRS by Tobias Wolff. It was recommended to my by David Sedaris … one of his 3 most formative books. https://www.3books.co/chapters/18)

  35. Katy says...

    Alice Munro is amazing, happy to see her here! Phillip K. Dick also has an interesting collection of short stories and love I Lauren Groff too.
    My 7th grade English class was all short stories- 7 books divided by region. Teutonic lit, Russian Lit, etc. I wish I could find those books now! I really learned to appreciate the art form of how an author can manage character development and setting the scene so quickly. Takes a lot of skill!

  36. Sasha L says...

    My favorite picture of me: I’m 2-3, sun tanned face, messy long blonde curls, sitting with blue jeaned legs straight out in the dirt under the shade of a cottonwood tree, arm wrapped around my dog, sweetest smile of carefree contentment on my face. My mom says I always wanted to be outside. So despite the river, rattlesnakes, horses and cows and barbed wire, she’d let me out on my own because my dog would grab me by my belt loops and pull me away from whatever trouble I found. When I look at that picture, I just see how loved I was.

    • Caitlin says...

      This is so lovely. Come to think of it, I think all my favorite pictures of me are from when I am really little. Maybe it’s that I can feel all the love of the person (one of my parents) behind the camera? I think we lose that a little bit now that we have cameras in our pockets and can take pictures of anything/everything…

  37. Nigerian Girl says...

    I’m really glad you’ve discovered Alice Munro. She’s one of my favourite writers. In grad school I missed my train stop because I was so engrossed in “My Mother’s Dream.” I recommend her collection Runaway. A little known story in there, “Tricks,” is possibly my most loved of all her stories.

    Other short story collections that’ll hit you straight in the heart – in a good way, of course:

    – Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (A must-read)
    – Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
    – Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
    – Because They Wanted To by Mary Gaitskill
    – The Collected Stories of Lorrie Moore.

    Enjoy!

    • sara says...

      Oh, yes, I forgot about Olive Kitteridge in my earlier comment.

  38. Laura says...

    Short story collections I’ve loved: If I Loved You I Would Tell You This by Robin Black, Bobcat by Rebecca Lee, Last Night by James Salter (the last one had me gasping), Cathedral by Raymond Carver. When done well, short stories are SO SO good.

  39. Dee says...

    Jo. I’m with you on short stories generally but Hilary Mantel writes a really good one! Her short story collections are some of my fav work of hers.

  40. Elizabeth C says...

    Joanna! I recommend everything by Alice Munro! The further back you go in her career (except for her first couple books), the lengthier and more slowly paced and more obviously complex the stories are. They’re all heart-clutching treasures. Especially try “Cortes Island” and “The Love of a Good Woman” in the collection by the name of the latter, and “Carried Away” in Open Secrets. And the collection Runaway is my favorite overall (omg the title story will make you gasp).

    • Sasha says...

      Second this, though I actually love the first books as well. lives of girls and women (published in 1971!) is the original Girl’s guide to hunting and fishing. It really spoke to me when I was in my early twenties.

  41. Rue says...

    Short stories + lit fiction are the things that GET ME THROUGH so much stuff. Some of my favorite short story writers: George Saunders, Lorrie Moore, Katherine Heiny, Allegra Hyde, Andrea Barrett.

  42. Sasha L says...

    Re the mental load. I so wish we had been aware years ago, when my children were small. I think our marriage would have felt a lot happier and more peaceful. It was only years into our marriage that I said I just wasn’t going to do many things anymore, like pay the bills (obviously giving it all up was mental labor too). Not shockingly, my husband apologized for my feelings of overwhelm and took it all over. Today he’s 100% in charge of shopping, car stuff, bills, insurance, budget, research (like, I need new hiking boots- he weeds through and shows me a few options). I have access and can know as much as I want, but I can also choose to just let him do it. I’m in charge of meal planning and cleaning chores. Apart from taking turns with cooking and dishes, I have to ask if I want mopping or dog poop cleaned up. This arrangement is so much better for me, and him too. I realize now I was resentful pretty much 24/7. Our choice to attachment parent (breastfeeding, sleeping together, me being home with kids) just inadvertently spilled over to me being in charge of EVERYTHING.

  43. Kate says...

    Parenting tip!
    Got a reluctant reader teenage boy in your house? Leave a collection of short stories in the bathroom they use- I started with a best short stories collection full of the tried and true- sorry I can’t recall the title, and then periodically swapped it out!
    My Dadsuggested this and it was amazingly effective with my son! Reading good quality stuff is the best SAT/ACT prep ever and it improves writing skills as well!
    Sometimes you have to be sneaky Mom!
    Oh and DO NOT ask if they are reading in the loo – you can tell by the curl of the book pages! You know you have hit a home run when you find the book in their bedroom- JACKPOT!!!!

    • Bates says...

      What books do you recommend??

    • Mindi says...

      Bates- The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (I gave this to my brother 20 years ago when he was a junior in high school and I’m pretty sure it’s the only work of fiction he ever read. He asked if there was more!) and The Night in Question by Tobias Wolff.

  44. Claire says...

    Terrific list! Thank you! I am bookmarking that screen cleaner for gift purposes.
    I sure miss the Dear Sugar podcast. The episode on emotional labor was terrific- it gave words to something I had not been able to articulate before.
    Just the other night I read a narrative by Lauren Goff in the New Yorker called “The Midnight Zone” , and good grief- the writing is so excellent that reading it was like having a spell cast over me. She has a short story collection called Florida that now I can’t wait to get my hands on. Here is a link to her article, in case anyone is interested: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/05/23/the-midnight-zone-by-lauren-groff

  45. Emma Bee says...

    There’s a Best American Short Stories book that comes out annually and is guest edited by a famous author (previous years have been Jennifer Egan, Salman Rushdie, Barbara Kingsolver). It’s a great way to find authors.

  46. Nina says...

    I first learned about ‘mental load’ a few years ago. I decided to just let go of some of those responsibilities. I never brought it up with my husband because I felt like it was a conversation that didn’t need to happen. I feel like the mental load is much more balanced in my house now. Then a few weeks ago my husband was reading an article and burst into the room “have you heard of mental load??? do you feel burdened???” and on and on. It was so sweet, but by the time he learned about it I had already shed a lot of that weight.
    Ladies- its possible to share the weight. Just ignore things until they become a problem and eventually your partner will start thinking about these things too.

    • Lani says...

      Ah , you’re husband :) I did something similar, but it was kind of an aftermath of the ‘keeping score’ effect. One night, I was just BOILING that my partner didn’t take the reigns on various small, but significant things (this one in particular involved not putting dinner dishes in the sink). My partner said: You are SO upset right now, just ask me a few times and then I’ll get it. Boom. Right. I LIKE doing the things like vacation planning or picking the new spot for dinner/weekend plans…but like, why wasn’t I asking to not be the hero on other things? It’s working. And maybe it’s not ‘my way’ or as speedy as I’d do it, etc. but it’s more of a partnership.

    • Andrea says...

      I agree on casting off what has no effect on you. I decided long ago to stop caring if my husband ever got his family gifts or reached out to them. His relationships, his problem.

      What I find harder (and this may just be my own spouse) are things that affect the both of us like his health, finishing out a degree program he started, etc. These are items I feel a vested interest in and they pull the weight of a relationship one way.

  47. Lara says...

    If you’re looking for short story authors, I can’t recommend the New Yorker’s Fiction podcast highly enough. In each episode, a writer whose work has been published in the magazine reads and discusses a story from its archives with the fiction editor Deborah Treisman. I’ve learned so much from the podcast over the years, and it’s led me to many of my favorite authors, including Mavis Gallant, William Trevor, Grace Paley, and Wells Tower. The episode of Margaret Atwood reading Gallant’s “Voices Lost in Snow” is incredible, as is Jhumpa Lahiri reading Trevor’s “A Day.”

    • Claire says...

      THE New Yorker HAS A FICTION PODCAST????
      How did I not know this? Thank you!

  48. Andrea says...

    1. Not to be picky, but the researcher who came up with the concept of emotional labor meant it as unpaid labor your actual job required, such as smiling as a waitress. This term was meant to refer to job classes that made you put on an emotional state as part of the job.

    2. If you want to get angry, read Wifework by Susan Maushart. She goes over the 11 jobs that women often take on in heterosexual partnerships, including monitoring and mentoring the health of their male partners, becoming the family social secretary, maintaining and encouraging his social network, etc. Really, it is quite the read.

    • Sara says...

      Oh my gosh Andrea, “monitoring and mentoring the health of their male partners” hit me hard. Thank you for sharing!

  49. Michelle says...

    I am really lucky that my husband takes on more of the mental load than me. It helps that we don’t have kids; and I don’t want them, partly to not upset this wonderful deal I have going on! But it’s also because I really don’t care about or notice many things that I think other people do. I don’t mind if the house gets a little dirty. I don’t mind if we run out of toilet paper. My husband even planned a dinner once with some acquaintances and completely forgot about it; we just didn’t show up! Was that experience mortifying? Yes, absolutely. But I’d trade the occasional bad experience like that any day for the pleasure of not having to plan everything for our family unit. As long as everyone is healthy and safe, try letting some things go and just see what happens!

  50. Ro says...

    Oh my gosh, the emotional load. I heard that episode on the Sugars podcast, but have been thinking about it my entire life.

    As a kid, I remember watching as my mom ran around being responsible for EVERYTHING. She worked, and was also the one to do the grocery shopping, make dinners, have meaningful convos, drive me to soccer, help with homework, plan vacations, and so on. I don’t remember my dad doing any of that, and it seemed so unfair.

    Unfortunately, I’ve noticed it in my own life, too. In relationships I often have a to-do list running through my head. Do we have eggs? How about toilet paper? Should we go on vacation? Is everyone happy? When was the last time we vacuumed? It feels like these things don’t happen unless I make them happen.

    It can be tough because many people don’t realize that (mostly women) have these responsibilities, so they tend to be shocked and confused when we finally snap or get cranky. Or they minimize how much work it actually is.

    I’m not quite sure what to do about it, either. Communicating with a partner is probably a good idea, as is creating things like shared to-do lists. But I’m not sure it’ll ever become natural for some folks to take on this emotional load, without being asked or forced to do so.

    • Ro says...

      Also, having to tell your partner to do these things, or making a shared to-do list, it just another part of the emotional load. And one more thing we have to do.

      Wooo! I’m all fired up. Rant over :)

    • n says...

      Fully agree on all of this, Ro!
      My husband is a wonderful partner, but I hate that I have to ask for help. He is a grown, responsible, capable adult – surely you can see I need some assistance!!

    • The Other Ro says...

      I commented below on Ele’s comment, but I feel this might help you as well. Leave a list open (on the fridge?) and tell your spouse (and kids if they can) to write things down as they see might be running low. Tell them they might catch things before you do.
      And I’ll go ahead and answer one of your questions… YES, you most certainly should go on vacation! And maybe even invite the rest of the fam! =)
      Serenity Could Be Now! Hang in there <3

  51. Nat says...

    I’ve recently just started to dive into short fiction, and I can say with absolute confidence The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu is without a doubt an incredible collection of sci-fi, magical realism, historical fiction stories. While the first few just set the stage for where his work ends up going, I have rarely been so impacted by a story. I’d suggest reading The Waves, Mono No Aware and The Paper Menagerie from that collection in particular. http://www.nlb.gov.sg/readsingapore/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/The-Paper-Menagerie.pdf

    If you want to be floored by a truly unique lovecraftian writer, check out Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. It is indescribable what she does with fantasy.

  52. Lauren E. says...

    I’m not a huge fan of short stories either but then I realized my favorite book of all time is Slouching Toward Bethlehem which is absolutely short stories. I should give this one a try!

    I just devoured Daisy Jones and The Six (written in interview format!) by Taylor Jenkins Reid, the incredible author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. The way TJR can make you hear a song, feel a concert, see a photo – it’s phenomenal. I couldn’t put it down.

  53. Natalie says...

    I love Alice Munro! I also highly recommend Mary Karr’s memoirs for anyone who hasn’t read them. Her writing style is breathtaking!

  54. Christina says...

    The short stories in “Tell Me More; the 12 hardest things I’m learning to say” made up my favorite book of 2018. Definitely on the must read list!

  55. I am SO glad that the concept of the mental load is having a light shone upon it. Some days these tasks are the thing that makes me feel like I’m drowning. The problem is – I wholeheartedly WANT to do these things. I want to make sure my kiddo’s hiking boots still fit, that their dinner contains enough protein, and that we have enough kitty litter. But man, my brain can only handle so much before I want to cry.

    • Laura C. says...

      Finally someone wrote it down!

    • Jo says...

      I get this Jody! As a mom of 4 grown kids now, I find the habit of (and addiction to) the mental load is difficult to shake! It became so much of my identity over the decades, that I now have to purposefully set things aside & turn it off. Sure, there is still a list even with fewer people in the house, but looking over the fence to my grown kids’ lives and making a list: that’s such a no-no! IT’s like one of those things that we take on and let become “who we are”, instead of separating our duties from our actual being. I’m learning! I find this so interesting… can’t wait to turn on the podcast! Jody -Do your best to hand over the lists and share with someone if possible… don’t let yourself get to a breaking point. xx

  56. kim says...

    I am very much hooked on the short story genre! I have to recommend Tom Perrotta’s short story collection – Nine Inches! His writing is so intelligent and energetic. Currently reading George Saunder’s Tenth of December and loving it.

  57. Allison W says...

    Flannery O’Connor for short stories! Her collections are ABSOLUTELY incredible and I love and admire her work so much.

  58. Ele says...

    Re: Mental load
    When I first learned about it, I got resentful, which isn’t helpful to anyone. I still have to work on my resentment, but one thing that helps is to articulate what needs to be done.

    I write them out as a to-do list on our whiteboard and ask my husband to help me narrow it down. It feels more like a joint list when it’s in a public area and he can easily knock out items too.

    • Anna says...

      I’m trying to get past the resentment part, too. Even writing out the to-do list is part of (a major part of) the mental load, since you are thinking through all the things that need to be addressed and done, and the pressure of not leaving something off that list is still on you…sigh.

    • The Other Ro says...

      What if on the board you leave it open and tell your partner “When you see something running low in the house, write it here” and have it as a going thing? Let them know your headspace is a little full and you might not catch things as quickly as they will?

      My husband works overseas, we don’t have kids, just our pets, so the day to day of the house falls 100% on me, but when he’s home he does his own laundry and will make his own to do list of things he sees that I might not have caught while he’s been away. Funny enough, it was never a conversation we had. I just never did his laundry because I was used to being on my own and doing my own thing. Beautifully and (sometimes) peacefully, things just fell into place =)

  59. Emily says...

    Question for you all about the invisible work/mental labor: Every time I try to bring this up, my husband feels attacked. He feels (rightly) like he spends loads of time every day doing household tasks (taking care of our daughter, cleaning up, doing dishes, etc.) But somehow I don’t think he fully sees how I’m also doing that–plus balancing the constant mental list of all the other little background things that need to happen (planning dinners, organizing the closet, shoes the next size up, thank you notes etc etc etc etc.). How do you have that conversation in a way that doesn’t negate the hard work your partner does? xo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      such a good question, emily! has he read this comic?
      https://english.emmaclit.com/2017/05/20/you-shouldve-asked/
      it’s really helpful in terms of understanding what mental load really is.

      also, i thank alex all the time for what he does for our family (cooking, grocery shopping, trash, etc.) but sometimes, i’ll ask him overall questions about our life to show how much i do/handle that he doesn’t even know or think about, in terms of invisible work. i’ll be like: “who is toby’s occupational therapist at school? what days do our two part-time sitters work, and what days have they requested off over the next few months? when did the boys last go to the doctor and dentist, and when do they need to go again? are the boys all set for summer shoes or do we need to get any? did we get a birthday gift for your sister?” and when he can’t answer any of them, he can see how much i carry in my head and am constantly scanning for. it’s just a good way to illustrate what invisible work is, if someone doesn’t really get it — or if they genuinely ask (like alex).

    • Leah Klein says...

      Thank you for this! My husband does a lot of the heavy work (dishes, laundry, cars, and almost all the dog duty) while I do 100% of the cooking. But when it comes to – birthdays, letters, our social calendar, drs appointments for the dog, asking about his friend’s new children, even his family (I usually know whats going on with them before he does) – I sometimes ask him to take care of certain tasks. “Can you set up dinner for your mom’s birthday? I already sent her a card signed by you.” But so much of it is hard to articulate.

    • Marta says...

      I feel like my husband has as much of an invisible load as me, just different things. He may be worrying more globally for our family, and making plans, while I do the day to day. Speaking for myself only, I do not mind the detail worries, it gives my anxiety a place to plan, organize.

    • Amy says...

      I love Joanna’s idea! I’m lucky in that I shared that cartoon with my husband and was upfront that I expected him to notice things that need to be done, not just rely on me to direct him (which he does! although sometimes we both come home with a new gallon of milk haha). But I love Joanna’s idea of “thinking out loud”. I usually order clothes for our kid on my lunch break at work, now I’m going to wait until I’m home and ask, how many tshirts do you think Kiddo needs?

      Also, I learned that men sometimes have their own silent labor, too. My husband is always taking on extra side hustles, and I learned it’s because I know he’s very concerned about future expenses, whereas I tend to think, “it’ll work out.”

    • Bethany says...

      I get it. My husband carries the mental load in our family, which has a lot to do with my health. I have an invisible illness and expend a lot of energy just staying well enough to go to work and keep our health insurance, but he has taken care of all the bills, scheduling and taking our dog to the vet/groomer, more of the chores, cooking, and entertaining so we can still have a social life. He asks me to help with things, but he is the one who knows what has to be done and when. I know how big of a job it is, because I was letting a lot of those things fall through the cracks before we met. It still feels a little hurtful to be reminded of it whenever it comes up, even if it isn’t accusatory. I realize our situation is unique and very egalitarian, but I do wonder if this makes me a bad wife or sets us up for unsustainable roles.

    • Sasha L says...

      Bethany, I find it telling that of all the lists of things men do in relationships, your partner would seem to do the most, and you worry that perhaps you’re not doing enough and are a bad wife. Imho, no you’re not a bad wife, you’re doing plenty, just about every male partner out there should be doing more, not less. My husband does a similar list and I refuse to feel like I should do more. Our relationship is light years more equitable than it was previously, when I did just about everything, and he was never bothered by that. It was only when I stopped doing it all that he even noticed. Male privilege is just the unspoken norm in our culture, so widespread that men don’t even see it as privilege.

  60. Avalanche Lake says...

    Yes, that is exactly what Alice Munro excels at–the normal everyday story that suddenly reveals itself to be anything but.

    The other short story writer I love (and I generally have the same attitude toward short stories that you express, Joanna) is William Trevor. I’d start with his collection “Cheating at Canasta.”

  61. I am also not usually a short story reader; in fact, I prefer vast, many-850-page-books-long literary science fiction. I like a world that goes on and on. But I’m also a poet by training, and I live on my sailboat in Mexico. A friend recently gifted me Lucia Breslin’s, “A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories”, and it touched my heart so deeply. Exquisite work that made me cherish my existence and everyone else’s.

    • S says...

      You must mean Lucia Berlin – and yes, an outstanding collection of stories that was based loosely on her extraordinary life.

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      This! Lucia Berlin is a gem. I wish she were alive to enjoy the acclaim she so greatly deserves. You might want to read her latest collection, Evening in Paradise. It’s so good.

  62. I love Alice Munro! Growing up in Canada, I remember each school library having an old paperback of her collection, “The lives of girls and women”, and one of the romantic gifts my husband has given me was her collection, “Too Much Happiness”….for the title alone:)

  63. Kate says...

    I recently agreed to borrow You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld at my friend’s insistence despite not loving short stories. My friend is my book soulmate and I’m so glad she broke me down because I loved every story and flew right through it.

    • DAMLA says...

      I love that you have a book soulmate Kate, such a heart warming adjective <3
      I have been lucky enough to discover a number of my favourites thanks to Cup Of Jo – the Educated by Tara Westover and all time favourite My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. And I keep an eye out to every and all book recommendations. I guess that my book soulmate is Cup of Jo :)

      I am very curious about the other books your friend recommended you because I loved Curtis Sittenfeld's book and carried it with me everywhere for the last two weeks. I savoured the stories and tried to read it slowly :))

  64. Sophia says...

    Kelly Link’s Get In Trouble is one of my most favorite collections of short stories! I also love Grace Paley and Lucia Berlin.

  65. Susan Weyler says...

    You must read Lucia Berlin’s collection, A Manual for Cleaning Women. It just may change your life. Every story is a gem!

  66. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by BJ Novak. I’m not usually a lover of short stories either (I always skip them in the New Yorker and then feel guilty…). But this collection by Noval is SO GOOD and really, truly funny. I read it and then gave it to my husband for Christmas
    (he is also not a short story reader). It took him forever to get around to reading it but when he did I got an ever-so-satisfying “You we’re right.”

    • *were

  67. Amanda says...

    Surprisingly good: Tom Hanks put out a short story collection a couple of years ago called Uncommon Type. Not all of them are great, but Hanks is a solid writer and I could imagine a lot of his stories as short films.

    • MB says...

      I absolutely loved these stories – so charming!

  68. Kaylen says...

    Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is one of my favorite collection of short stories ever.

  69. Emily says...

    My fave short story writer is Kevin Brockmeier He writes these tiny magical moments. Some faves for me are the one about an intensely lonely woman whose only meaning in life comes from contact with a strange non-human being, a story about an editor at merican’s funniest home videos, and a story about a tiny patch of sky getting lower and lower and lower.

    • Michelle says...

      Thanks for sharing this! I’m going to check out his work right away. Which of his books would you recommend first?

    • Emily says...

      start with the view from the seventh layer, then things fall from the sky. the rest of his books are novels, and also pretty good, but not as good as his short stories.

  70. Suko says...

    Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout (author if Olive Kitteridge.)

    It was on Obama’s “The best books I read in 2017” list. I rarely read short stories either, but this one sucked me in.

    The familial issues covered in in this book were out of my comfort zone, but you read on and end up getting to know an entire community of people. Was definitely worth the read.

  71. diana k. says...

    I love short stories. I recently picked up Fresh Complaint by the amazing Jeffrey Eugenides and these little tales have just latched on inside of me since reading them. The stories have very little agenda, there’s never an exciting climax or shocking reveal. Each story is a little window into someone else’s troubles and Eugenides presents the details of their life with such care and humor. I’ve seen myself on every page of this book and it’s like taking down a glass of lemonade that’s a bit short on sugar.

  72. Anna says...

    Regarding short stories: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Still up for debate if it’s a short story collection or a novel, but it will be a very satisfying reading experience. Also, What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky.
    Loved LaTonya’s post about favourite picture and have been going through my archives since then. And you’re so right- recognition of self is the key!

  73. Jacqueline says...

    As Canadians, we are so very proud of our homegrown talent – Alice Munro is a Canadian national treasure! Very happy you are introducing her in the States and enjoying her writing so much. What a pleasure to have her novels as required reading during high school!!!

    Have great end to the week and upcoming weekend!

  74. Nora says...

    Re: Short stories, Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories are also magical!

  75. Sarah says...

    In that same Dear Sugar episode Cheryl talks about her husband asking her where a particular list is and she says, “Honey, I AM the list.” I love that.

    It also makes me think of a book the kids got for free from Kaiser called “Cook It.” It’s sort of dry and inane, but the gist of it is a little girl opens a cookbook, picks a recipe, makes a list, goes to the store, gets the groceries, pays for them, comes home, puts all the food together according to the recipe, sets the table, eats, and then cleans up. After reading it I was like, “No wonder I feel so exhausted all the time. What an extraordinary series of events just so we can all have a simple dinner.” (In her case, pizza.) It’s just all so much.

  76. Jess says...

    Jenny writing about the Dear Sugars podcast made me cry. I am definitely feeling a heavy mental load living abroad away from family and close friends, raising four kids with a husband who has to travel a lot. I’m going to take a listen and hope to feel validated and leave the resentment behind! Thank you Jenny for the recommendation.

  77. Corinna says...

    I’ve always loved The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brian. It’s about what soldiers in Vietnam carried with them, so not a typical story geared for women, but so moving.

    • I second this! One of my favorite books. I read it in high school and again recently. It is incredible and moving and a must read.

  78. Julia says...

    Quotidian? It’s my new favorite word. I think a new COJ vocabulary word a week would be a wonderful addition to the blog. What a lovely way for all your readers expand their collective vocabularies.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      That’s a great idea, Julia!

  79. Liz says...

    Delicate edible birds by Lauren Groff is PERFECTION. Also, if you ever get a chance to see her read, do it! She is wonderful in person.

  80. Laura J says...

    If you are enjoying short stories, try LeVar Burton Reads, because short stories that you listen to are wonderful! A good starting place is an early episode “What it means when a man falls from the sky”. PS. He still has a delicious voice.

  81. So many wonderful short story recommendations! Don’t you love finding someone — even if it’s only online — whose reading preferences are in line with your own? Kindred spirits abound. Here’s my vote for Karen Russell, Steven Millhauser and Jhumpa Lahiri.

    And I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shoutout to my own short story collection, called Cheers, Somebody. (Here’s looking at you, my fellow indie authors in charge of their own marketing!)

  82. Hayley says...

    Re: short stories: I love short stories. So. Much. I was an English major and am a book junkie, and, when in a reading rut, I always turn to short stories again and again. It’s a true art to weave beautiful prose and emotion and to really draw a reader in, in just a 20-page story. I want to recommend “Look How Happy I’m Making You,” a collection of short stories about women who want to become mothers, who don’t want to become mothers, and who do become mothers, written by a friend.
    (We just went to her reading tonight in Ann Arbor!)
    https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/580454/look-how-happy-im-making-you-by-polly-rosenwaike/9780385544030/. The collection is breathtaking. xoxo

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      This is on my radar. Looking forward to reading.

  83. Holly says...

    The Lottery and Other Short Stories by Shirley Jackson. The stories are the perfect amount of disturbing/fascinating. They are stories I’ve thought about for years.

    • Agreed!

    • Similar to Shirley Jackson, Joyce Carol Oates! Her short story “where are you going, where have you been” (you can find it online to read) has stuck with me like no other!

  84. Raymond Carver. RAYMOND CARVER! Raymond Carver.

    • Annie says...

      Seconded. Raymond Carver! RAYMOND. CARVER.

      And then dive into Sally Rooney’s novel(s), Conversations with Friends and Normal People (the latter of which coming out later this month eeeek!); she’s listed Carver as an influence.

    • Carol Hinz says...

      Replying to Annie: Oh my gosh, I loved Conversations with Friends so much. Cannot wait for Normal People! Did you read the recent New Yorker profile of Sally Rooney?

  85. L. says...

    Like a lot of folks I mostly hate to see myself in photographs, but recently my husband took one of me laying on our bed, staring at our new baby. My hair is weird and my nose is too big and [insert all the self-judgments here] but my face is radiating love for this new creature, and I have to say it’s a very good look.

  86. Ashley says...

    Alice Munro is brilliant. Lydia Davis is also a master of the craft—her Collected Stories are amazing. I saw someone already mentioned George’s Tenth of December but I have to second it, especially the story “Victory Lap.” If you’re like a good scare but also are looking for something literary, Dan Chaon is the way to go, especially “The Bees.” And one of my favorite collections of all time is Yesterday’s Weather by the Irish writer Anne Enright. Her stories are beautiful and have this haunting quality about them—I do not know how she does it!

    As a story writer it’s lovely to see them get a little shout out on COJ :) Thank you!

  87. Emma says...

    On the topic of short stories – has anyone read “The Penguin book of Japanese Short Stories”? It was released last year, I think. I’m in love with the cover but I’d like to hear if anyone enjoyed it.

    • Laura says...

      Yes!! I read a good amount of them because I, too, was fascinated with the cover. (If you’re in Brooklyn, they have it at the BPL.)

      Though I didn’t read them all (the book was due!), I found them beautiful, ethereal, and some of them were so weird, but in a good way. Sorry, I don’t feel like I’m doing it justice, but I recommend checking it out!

    • Elena says...

      That book has my favorite short story writer, Banana Yoshimoto! I love her book, “Asleep”. I’ve had it for more than a decade and I still come back to it year after year. Her short stories are magical, so human and heart-felt.

  88. Ariana says...

    I love Lorrie Moore and Grace Paley and I’ve had Lauren Groff’s Florida on my list. I was part of a women’s short story club (all women participants, all women authors), which was great because you didn’t need to commit to a whole book. I also highly recommend Octavia Butler, James Tiptree Jr and Ursula K LeGuin if you are interested in exploring speculative fiction. I read a compilation of feminist short stories curated by the Vandermeers, which was just okay, but two standout stories were Susan Palwick’s “Gestella” and Vandana Singh’s “The Woman who Thought She was a Planet”.

  89. Emily says...

    I read Dear Life a few years ago and loved it. Just wait until you get to the last story! Unforgettable. I want to read the whole collection again now that you’ve reminded me.

  90. Jenny says...

    I, too, love Alice Munro- after I plowed through Dear Life, I read Hateship Friendship, Courtship, Loveship- the title story is quite possibly my favorite short story of all time. But now that I say that, I remember how much a loved all the stories in Dear Life and I probably should just stick to saying that Alice Munro is my favorite short story author and not try and pick a favorite amongst all the gems she’s penned.

    PS. a movie version called Hateship Loveship was made and stars Kristen Wiig!

  91. Shannon says...

    Alice Munro for the win! Did you know her short story “The Bear Came Over The Mountain” inspired Sarah Polley’s movie “Away From Her?” Heart-wrenching and beautiful, the both of them.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh my gosh!!!!! I did not know that and am freaking out.

  92. Holly says...

    Lorrie Moore, Birds of America and George Saunders 10th of July!! World stopped when I read them both.

    • Heather says...

      Agree about Saunders! I picked up Tenth of December after reading Lincoln in the Bardo. George Saunders’ short stories are all constructed around alternate realities where something is slightly (or very) off, but it takes you some time to figure out what it is each time. Reading them is a bit like feeling your way around a darkened room, slowly gathering clues as to what this world is all about. They’re also often hilarious.

  93. As a Canadian, Alice Munro is a national hero. We still have Munro’s Books here in Victoria which she used to run with her former husband. I love her short stories.

    • Kim, many thanks from everyone at Munro’s (and indie bookstores everywhere) for the shoutout!

    • Amy says...

      And Munro’s Books was rated the third best bookstore in the world by National Geographic! Powells was rated fifth, if that gives perspective ;)
      Thanks to this, I just planned a Munro’s bookstore visit with family visiting in a month!

    • agnes says...

      Cup of Jo IS a community! Love those comments where people connect…

    • Erin says...

      I love Munro’s! I live in California now but grew up in British Columbia and still make trips back to Munro’s when I am home.

  94. Sarah says...

    For the Relief of Unbearable Urges by Nate Englander is *amazing* writing, and the stories have stayed with me for, oh, 10 years now?

    Tales from the Torrid Zone by Alexander Frater is great for travelogue getaway style stories

    You Are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett is a beautiful and quiet collection

    And, perhaps my favorite: the fiddler in the subway, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gene Weingarten is nonfiction that reads like fiction. Eloquent and powerful and funny and moving. Do this one if you only choose one (with Englander’s a close second)

    :) Cheers

    • Rebecca says...

      I love Englander’s writing and I am looking forward to reading his novel that came out last week.

    • Jessica says...

      I second Adam Haslett’s You Are Not a Stranger Here. It’s been 10+ years since I first read it, and so glad to find someone else who appreciated it too!

  95. Natalya says...

    I love Alice Munro so much! I’m proud to report that she was one of my favorite authors before she got the Nobel prize)) If you like Munro, you might also like Lucia Berlin, a collection of short stories called “A manual for cleaning women”

  96. Anne says...

    Thanks for posting book recs. They’re always to my liking, including the cookbooks (Repitoire, anyone?). I am currently reading Tin Man and am going slowly because a.) I don’t want it to end, and b.) I don’t have a next read lined up. So thanks a bunch!

  97. KimW says...

    Difficult Women by Roxanne Gay. I’m also not a huge short story reader & prefer deep dive novels generally but this one really piqued my interest in exploring more as well (both Ms. Gay and the format)

  98. Caitlin says...

    I love love love short stories. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always loved a story that leaves you to create your own ending. The Best American Short Stories annual anthologies are always great and I devoured Florida by Lauren Groff.

  99. Teapotkid says...

    Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women. Definitely in my top 10!

  100. Downloading the mental load podcast to listen to tomorrow (and copying the iTunes link below to save you the search). I worry all the time that if I’m hit by a mac truck, my husband won’t know our dog groomer, our wifi passwords, our sushi order, etc. because I take care of all of these things.

    Two things have helped immensely:
    1) I got an Apple Watch and made Siri my BFF after swearing her off for years. If I think of a grocery list item or he tells me we’re out of something, I ask her nicely to add it. If my husband asks me to remember something, I tell her to remind me. She adds things to my calendar. Putting it on her plate means it’s off my mind.
    2) I stopped being an unpaid (and often unasked) research assistant. My husband would wonder something aloud and I would take it upon myself to research it. Now, I say something like hmmm, interesting. you should google that or if he keeps bringing it up, I ask him directly if he’s asking me to do something. Usually the answer is no, he’s just a talker whereas if I say something I mean it.

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dear-sugars/id950464429?mt=2&i=1000410737773

  101. Lee says...

    I love short stories! Here are a few of my favorites: Lydia Davis, Lucia Berlin, Aimee Bender, Leni Zumas, and Etgar Keret.

    • Midge says...

      Oh, Lydia Davis. So good.

      “She did not like to eat larger chocolates, she decided. Now that she had, for the first time, experienced the tiniest of chocolates, that was what she preferred.”

  102. Allison says...

    I love short stories. Sometimes it’s nice to finish a whole story in one session. Sometimes it’s nice to have that wanting more feeling at the end. And with the especially good ones, I am so impressed when they leave me feeling so much with (comparatively) so little. My absolute favorite book of short stories is Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, one of my favorite authors. It was the first book of short stories I ever read and I still think about them often. The one of the couple at the wedding particularly sticks with me. I also just recently finished another good collection, Thirteen Ways of Looking by one of my other favorite authors, Colum McCann.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Ooh thank you for these recommendations!!

    • Interpreter of Maladies (and Unaccustomed Earth) by Jhumpa Lahiri are maybe the most perfect books I have ever read. :)

    • Hayley says...

      Oh my goodness, a huge yes to Jhumpa Lahiri!

    • Jacqueline says...

      Interpreter of Maladies is fantastic! Highly recommended read with a cup of tea…..

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      @Allison I feel as if I’ve found my book soulmate. Unaccustomed Earth is my absolute favourite short story collection too. I’ve read tons and tons of collections, but nothing comes close to it. Jhumpa Lahiri for World President.

  103. Diana Tisdale says...

    Just requested Dear Life from the library! Hopefully I’ll be able to savor each one. I hold off getting into a novel since typically once I get started all I want to do is keep reading, please and thank you. Once or twice I’ve used moderate cramps as a reason to hole up for the day and read, haha. Thanks for taking care of all kid duty hubs!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Hahahaha getting food poisoning last fall was one of my best days in a weird way bc of sleeping and reading!

  104. Julia says...

    Roald Dahl and Ray Bradbury both have wonderful short story collections. Of note, Dahl’s are adult and not for kids. I love short stories too!

    • Julia says...

      Forgot another more recent one! I really like BJ Novak’s collection too. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Omg I can’t believe I forgot his! Loved that book. Here’s a little q and a — I had only 15 minutes on the phone w him (per his publicist) but he was so hilarious in such a short time!
      https://cupofjo.com/2014/02/a-phone-call-with-b-j-novak/

    • Sydni Jackson says...

      They are my favorites!! I could read Roald Dahl stories all day :)

  105. elizabeth says...

    Jenny – I am about to go on a road trip with the whole family as we look at colleges for the oldest and I will definitely play that dear sugars episode and expect to be appreciated (hmmm… is this a set up for deep disappointment and frustration?!). any other suggestions? COJ always has great podcast suggestions, but I’m particularly interested in any road trip-with-teens ideas. Thanks!

    • Michelle says...

      The History Chicks would be a great one to listen to with teens. They illuminate the lives of extraordinary women from history, many who have been overlooked, and provide a window to what it must have been like to be a woman in different times and places. They keep it very G rated or provide a warning at the beginning. Invisibilia is also great!

    • Jennifer says...

      Ooh! I just did this with my teenage boys. I downloaded all of The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green. The podcasts are funny, brilliant juxtapositions of two different things that are just so intriguing. The first one dives into Canadian Geese and Diet Dr Pepper. They aren’t very long, but held my kids’ interest (and mine), and days later, we’re still talking and laughing about them.
      Also for reference, John Green wrote The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines; he has a weekly podcast with his brother Hank, as well.

  106. Seeing Alice Munro’s name on COJ made my heart skip a beat! To echo another reader above, Alice Munro is a true Canadian icon. As a Toronto-based book editor and longtime COJ reader, I jump at any small mentions of our country…and twice as high when there’s a book involved! I also love short fiction, and am so happy to see it coming back into vogue lately. It makes sense that in a world forever short on time and patience, both short fiction and essay have found big appeal—they’re perfect for filling little parcels of otherwise mundane freedom (public transit, waiting rooms, lunch breaks). More satisfying than a Twitter scroll, I’d say. :)

    So much to recommend! I’ll keep it to a few:
    Her short fiction is a far cry from Munro’s beat—maybe a touch closer to magical realism, really—but Lynn Crosbie’s Hellgoing is another favourite (it won the Giller Prize, Canada’s best known literary award, in 2013)
    The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis
    Bark by Lorrie Moore
    A Permanent Member of the Family by Russell Banks

  107. KL says...

    I’ve made a note in my phone to “randomly” pull up this podcast on my next long drive with my husband. The mental load is HEAVY these days.

  108. Mary says...

    Gemma Hartley also published a book recently all about the emotional labor women perform/the mental load they bear. The book is called Fed Up. It’s really revealing, and a relief to read and recognize so many things you take on without realizing it and think, “yeah, wait a minute … why is this MY job?” Just be prepared … it can get you pretty riled up :)

    PS – there are so many amazing books of short stories out there. They get compared to novels a lot, but I think a really, really good short story can make you feel as if you’ve just finished a novel. You read the last word and feel the implications and echoes of all that’s underneath the surface of the actual words on the page. That resonance can feel even more profound in a great short story.

  109. Sara says...

    Recent short story collection I LOVED: Florida by Lauren Groff

    • Emily says...

      I loved it too!

  110. Sara says...

    I agree with the previous poster who mentioned Jumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies.” Her “Unaccustomed Earth” is also great. I LOVE Richard Russo’s collection “The Whore’s Child.” “The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing” by Melissa Banks are stories focused around the same set of characters and is very good.

  111. Genevieve Albers says...

    I loathe almost every single picture of myself. I think it has to do with proportion: my head is small. This makes people very un-photogenic I guess?
    My husband, my main option for photographer, gets exasperated if I criticize his photography skills; I quit asking him to take any. I’d rather have no pictures of myself than pictures of double chins and awkward smiles. Still, memorable things keep happening and there’s no picture record that I was there, or that I was happy. It makes me sad that I can’t look back and see myself, and then it makes me feel ashamed for being vain, and then I feel resentful because I make an effort to make people look good and catch them looking happy. My camera is full of the people I love looking great and happy and genuine. But there are precious few of me, usually taken by me.
    This has turned into a surprisingly melancholy gripe.

    • kristen says...

      Oh Genevieve, I hear you! I take so many pictures of my kids and other things, but my husband has no real interest in taking the time to get a good one of me and the kids and gets flustered easily (especially since the kids move a lot!) — it’s just not his thing. And I don’t want to argue with him about getting a “better” picture. Not worth it. But I sure wish I had a better picture a lot of the time!

    • hita says...

      Do it yourself. Skip the resentment and embrace the selfie. And the selfie with kids and with friends. (also, forget the proportion issue, it’s all about the angle! disclaimer: Not a photographer.) http://www.theonlinemom.com/take-better-selfies/

    • Sasha L says...

      Genevieve, I have a BIG head, and smile oddly due to a childhood with terrible teeth (mine are beautiful now, thank you modern dentistry, but habits), and I have the exact same problem. I don’t like how I look when others take my picture so often. Selfies! I swear, selfies are the answer. Grab your kid/friend/partner and take a selfie. Take selfies of just you, practice till you like yourself in that picture. I promise you will eventually. And use the editing apps on your phone or in Instagram to make your coloring even better or the light brighten your face. Blur the background. I guarantee if you try, you’ll take a photo of yourself you love and you deserve that!

  112. jeannie says...

    I love that idea of a favorite photo of yourself! I definitely have those with each of my three children. I will have to dig them out and let them know.

  113. AM says...

    Yes, yes, yes to the Dear Sugars podcast, and YES to that episode! I, too, felt so validated hearing it wasn’t just me, but other women too, who felt they did the majority of work that kept the house and family together. This podcast episode actually caused me to revisit the conversation with my husband about how we should divide chores and housework. Even though we had a system, the episode helped me to realize I was resentful, which is a pretty obvious clue something isn’t working! One other thing I had never considered was that the way we had divided housework in the past worked for us THEN but not for us NOW. It was so good to refresh the conversation and start again, now that so much had changed (kids, job, etc) since we had first had the conversation years ago. I HIGHLY Recommend giving the podcast and that specific episode a listen!

  114. Mickey Fadeley says...

    Short stories have been my jam since I discovered John Updike and Joyce Carol Oates in college. I second the Lucia Berlin and Lauren Groff recs and would also add Grace Paley, Raymond Carver, Ottessa Moshfegh, Maile Meloy, and Lorrie Moore.

  115. Katie says...

    The Runaway was the first Alice Munro book I read and I loved it. I also loved Dear Life. I’m not always a huge fan of short stories but she is amazing. Another short story book I enjoyed is Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri.

  116. Sarah Gregory says...

    Yes and amen to the mental load! As I was reading Jenny’s description, it suddenly occurred to me that I need to be sure to call my kids’ doctor’s office tomorrow to make their annual appointment. I had to laugh at myself for living out the definition of mental load while reading about it :)

  117. Tori says...

    Love that photo of LaTonya with her kiddos. How do I get my friends and family to take photos of me like this?? Sounds so vain but serious question! I’m always behind the camera, and my husband is in so many photos with our daughter. I want her to look back one day and remember me being there too (haha).

    Also, thank you COJ for introducing me to the term “mental load”. I remember when you posted that comic strip and a huge light bulb went off in my mind. I now use this in my marriage and often shout it to my husband at eye-roll-inducing moments. Him: Are we out of toilet paper again? Me: Are you sharing the mental load?! ;)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s such a good question, tori! hmmm, maybe there’s an argument for asking a friend or family member to be the unofficial “photographer” at group events or hang outs. like you could ask your husband to take candid photos of you with the kids, here and there, while you’re hanging out at the park. for lots of people, it’s fun to be on camera duty. just a thought, may be worth a try?

    • Molly K says...

      Start to do it for THEM and they will probably return the favor! It probably wouldn’t occur to me to take snapshots of my sister and her family, but she has been doing it for me, so I return the favor and it has become a habit for both of us.

    • Alison says...

      A lot of times, the difficulty of having photos taken of you is getting the picture from that person! If someone takes a picture of me that I like, I’ll say, “Will you send that to me right now?” and have them email or text it to me right then. It might feel a little awkward to ask that, but it will really only take a few seconds and if you say, “Send that to me later!” neither of you will ever remember and it will live on their phone forever. That’s the only way I have any non-selfie pictures of myself!

    • Tori says...

      Good tips. Thank you all! My daughter’s birthday is coming up, so I’ll definitely be designating some photographers in the group for that day. :-)

  118. A mitchell says...

    Alice Munro is a Canadian icon. All her short stories are wonderful.

  119. Rebecca says...

    As a short story connisseur, I have a few more recommendations. Dear Life is so good, btw. Happy Reading!
    1) This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Anne Patchett (really more in the essay realm, but so good)
    2) Goodbye Columbus by Philip Roth, that story in particular–it’s amazing
    3) Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny
    4) How This Night is Different by Elisa Albert
    5) Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman

    • Rebecca says...

      *connoisseur

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      THANK YOU!!! excited to get more into them.

    • Eloise says...

      Also, anything by Lucia Berlin and Florida, by Lauren Groff

    • Nigerian Girl says...

      Single, Carefree, Mellow is great. Pretty funny too. I also second all the Lauren Groff recommendations. Florida is dreamy and magical. A treasure of a book.

  120. Leslie says...

    I need that mini screen cleaner like yesterday.
    Speaking of memoirs, check out “Love you Hard” by Abby Maslin. So real and raw and powerful.

  121. Anna says...

    I’m intrigued by “Dear Life” and may have to give it a try! Is it a stressful read?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it’s SO good. i don’t find it stressful at all — although some stories are sad or surprising or heartbreaking. but also enlightening and beautiful and human.

    • nandini says...

      I read it last month and loved it! Each story is an opening on the character’s worlds. And the writing is beautiful.

  122. Such an important topic!

    Guess who spent the morning making a list and cranking up on our impending move? Making sure we’ll be able to break our lease by posting an ad and looking for a new tenant, asking for quotes for storage units and notifying banks and insurance companies. Me!

    By the way, this is the link to the website of the artist who created the infamous Mental Load comic “You should have asked”: https://english.emmaclit.com/2017/05/20/you-shouldve-asked/

    It would be great to send traffic her way, to acknowledge and support her own (sometimes invisible) work as a feminist!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you!! just swapped out the link to go directly to her page!

    • Julia says...

      Omg Chloe, you’ll appreciate this. My husband and I were discussing looking for a new house a couple of months ago. We have a baby, and I said that I wasn’t there yet on a new house because the process of moving would end me. AND HE SAID “oh moving’s not that hard, I could have us moved in a weekend.” I could have crawled over the table and strangled him. Sure you could honey, after I did all the organizing, decluttering, packing, cleaning, unpacking, reorganizing, while also being a baby’s #1 gal. You could definitely lift packed boxes into a moving van, drive it across town, and place the boxes in the middle of the new living room floor, never to be touched by you again. I know this to be true, because during our last cross country move, he played video games with his brother all night before we left while I finished packing and cleaning. I love my husband and many other things about him, but if we moved right now, we’d be divorced.

    • AN says...

      One word: lesbian! Mental load—poof! ;)

    • shannon says...

      Ack, moving!! We’ve moved across the country twice. The first, it was June and my husband left to PLAY ONE LAST REC LEAGUE SOCCER GAME while our power was out from a storm and I packed and cleaned in a 90+ degree house. The second time, he went to do work at a coffee shop for hours(??!) the day before we had to leave. In both instances his mom was there and helped me pack. It was good bonding for the two of us but seriously what on Earth was he thinking?

    • Samantha says...

      When my boyfriend was moving in with me last summer, I, of course, did all the coordinating and planned when we would move what, since I own my house and we started moving things several months before his lease was up.
      His mother is really wonderful in so many ways, but sometimes I want to S-C-R-E-A-M at her, WHY DID YOU NOT TEACH THIS MAN HOW TO DO HOUSEHOLD TASKS?! I can’t imagine what it was like for her when my boyfriend and his brother were growing up as the only women in the house.

    • Anon says...

      This may sound cynical and sad and utterly unromantic, but as I get older and learn/realize more about quietly sexist things like mental load, I almost don’t want to get into a relationship because I don’t want to be struggling with loving and building a life with a man while resenting him for things that he will likely never fully understand (nor do I want to be responsible for constantly educating him). If only I were born 100 years later when (hopefully?) things aren’t so utterly uneven and frustrating.

    • Rachel says...

      @Anon – please don’t feel discouraged. Not every man is like that but yes, a lot of them are. I think it has a lot to do with how we, men and women, were raised. Not only there was a definition between what were the girl’s and the boy’s responsibilities but most families had that old-fashioned model of what mum and dad do and don’t do at home. So it’s hard to break from that when you are an adult.
      I was so surprised to read these comments, since this is really foreign territory for me. My husband and I gravitate to “owning” the areas each one of us like/care about the most and I am happy to say that our mental load is pretty balanced. I am having a super busy at work and he told me to focus all my energy on myself and not to think of anything and he has taken all my tasks. And with that, he also took my mental load. I know other men like that and just wanted to share a story to let you know that it doesn’t have to be this way :) and if it is, there are ways of figuring things out and there’s some great suggestions here! xo