I came across a few short stories on Amazon last year and loved them. Amazon has commissioned a series of original short stories by prominent writers. These stories are categorised by genre and are only available as digital books on Amazon or as audiobooks on Audible.
If you have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited, then you can read most of these for free. The narrators on Audible are often celebrities, so that’s something you might consider when choosing which format to get.
The stories are short but impactful. They take you on a journey and make you see the world differently.
This year, since I’ve committed to reading (listening to) the Wheel of Time series, I haven’t been in the frame of mind to read any other significant book. These short stories have been an excellent palette cleanser.
Each collection has a few stories. I am not sure how many I will read, but I’ll update each collection as I go.
Out of Line Collection
Out of Line is an inclusive collection of funny, enraging, and hopeful stories of women’s empowerment and escape. What happens when women step out of line and take control of their own lives?
Graceful Burdens by Roxane Gay:
A quick read about a possible future when women’s bodies and their choices are fully controlled by the government. Scary to think that this is a possibility, going by what’s happening in the world today. So strange that men in power feel so threatened by a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her body!
Many unlicensed women took to other women because they had no need to put up with men.
Zikora by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
Zikora is an independent young woman who finds herself in the maternity ward without a partner. Her mother is by her side though and stirs up emotions she had held back for too long as she prepares to become a mother herself.
If he was going to have a child, of course he should have a say, but how much of a say, since the body was mine, since in creating a child, Nature demanded so much of the woman and so little of the man.
Halfway to Free by Emma Donoghue:
We are in a dystopian world where the goal is to reduce the Earth’s population down to 3 billion. Only a few ‘royals’ are allowed to reproduce. The rest of the women have earpieces that get put in as soon as they’re about to hit puberty. It blocks the menstrual cycle, making them unable to bear children. But what if despite the social stigma and removal of all benefits, someone still wants to experience parenthood? Where do they go? And what happens after the population goal is reached? Would people who have been conditioned to not reproduce, still want babies?
Freedom from versus freedom to.
Bear Witness by Mary Gaitskill:
The story unfolds as we get to know the 3 characters and their backgrounds. A disillusioned woman who has dedicated her life to teaching troubled kids has been raped by a former student. Mark, the student. has had a troubled past with not much guidance or good role models. Moira is one of the jury members in the trial. We get to see her confront her ideals after years of justifying and excusing others’ behaviours. The ending has been left ambiguous and you hope she has found the fire within her to fight!
Because I felt sorry for him, but I didn’t like him. That sounds terrible because he was just a kid. But kids are people. And some people you just don’t like.
This Telling by Cheryl Strayed:
An apt topic for these times – abortion. Even after all these years, women find themselves fighting for their reproductive rights. This story is about Geraldine who was forced into hiding and to give up her baby for adoption. The words that the ‘father’s’ role had been optional, or how she was told to pretend her baby never happened, brings out strong emotions. After living a full life, burdened with the secret, she finally brings herself to share it with someone.
She felt an absurd urge to tell the doctor that now, to assure him that the mistake that had been made that necessitated her being there had been only one misstep in a lifetime unmarked by them.
Shine, Pamela! Shine! By Kate Atkinson:
This story highlighted the obvious difference between a man getting older and an ageing woman—what their expectations are from their lives and how they’re viewed by society. Pamela is learning to navigate her later years on her own since her husband left to build a new exciting life. She’s also coming to terms with her relationship with her kids and dating men her age. Something happens towards the end of the story, and we’re left to wonder if it’s a good thing or not.
Art was dangerous—it gave you ideas.
The Contractors by Lisa Ko:
This was a short peep into the underbelly of social media platforms. The story introduces us to two women in different parts of the world who have the same job—to filter out the uploaded content that is too violent to be shown. The trauma that someone has to go through on a daily basis watching the worst elements of the world on a viscous loop and getting paid a paltry amount for it is the reality for so many. Not everyone can find a way out.
It’s a terrible feeling, to be pitied, to have thought you were excelling but then be reminded of how you weren’t.
Sweet Virginia by Caroline Kepnes:
I felt it was a story about a woman, Shelby, going through postpartum depression—the constant confusion, listlessness, and feeling disconnected from her baby and the world at large. However, it’s more about how we judge women who are less than ideal at everything they do. So Shelby has to learn to be that perfect woman before she’s allowed to live her life. The pressures of being the perfect daughter, wife, and mother can get overwhelming and make you want to just escape into a world far from your reality. The ending took a while to sink in.
Good mothers are organized. They don’t need convenience
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