Deal Me In 2014 – A Short Story Reading Challenge

Deal Me In 2014I’ve been charmed by another reading challenge for 2014, but this one is low-pressure and seems quite do-able – a weekly short story reading challenge.  I’ve got so many short story authors I want to get to know or get to know better, so this seems a perfect way to do so!

The Deal Me In 2014 Reading Challenge is hosted by Bibliophilopolis.  You can find out more at this informative post.  There is also a dedicated post for reviews here, and our host will be posting weekly round-up threads with everyone’s links.  You can announce your intent to play along by linking your own list of stories at either thread.

Here’s the gist of the challenge, from the dedicated post linked above:

What is the goal?

To read 52 short stories in 2014 (that’s only one per week)

What do I need?

1) Access to at least fifty-two short stories
2) A deck of cards
3) Less than an hour of reading time each week

Where do I post about my stories?

1) on your own blog or website if you have one (I will link to your post at the bottom of my weekly post. I currently plan to do my weekly post on Sundays)

2) if you don’t have a blog or website you may comment on my weekly post, sharing thoughts on your own story – or start one at WordPress or blogspot – it’s easy and free to create a basic blog.

How do I pick which stories to read?

(The 52 stories themselves are totally up to you.) Before you get started, come up with a roster of fifty-two stories (you can use any source) and assign each one to a playing card in a standard deck of cards. It can be fun to use different suits for different types of stories, but that is optional. Each “week,” (if you’re like me, you may occasionally fall a story or two behind) you draw a card at random from your deck and that is the story you will read.”


I’ve thought long and hard about which stories I want to read.  I want to fill in the gaps in the work I’ve read by major authors as well as be exposed to many new-to-me writers of the form.  For some authors I’ve included (Haruki Murakami, China Miéville) I’ve already read pretty much all their collected work, but luckily for me they have recently published new short stories online.  For some writers I’d like to include (Catherynne M. Valente, Kelly Link, Elizabeth Hand) I have read at least one (or more) collection(s) of their work and intend to read whatever full collection I’ve miss soon.  For still other authors (Lydia Davis, Amy Bender, etc.) I feel reading a full collection would give me a better introduction to their work, so I haven’t included them on this pick list.

The majority of the stories I’ve chosen are available (legally) for free online by Googling and heading to whatever site is hosting the story, usually in an archive. Those I can’t get online legallly/free are stories I’ve made sure my public library has available in various collections and anthologies.  (There is a lot of great info at the host site on sources for short stories, too.)

Here’s my Deal Me In story pool for 2014.  I will pull my first card and post the name of my first story to read soon.  (The categories are optional.  You don’t have to create themes for the suits, and if you do you can make them whatever you like.)

Diamonds  (masters of the form)

A.  Ambrose Bierce – “An Occurrence at OwlCreekBridge”
2.  Jean Stafford – “Children Are Bored on Sunday”
3.  John Cheever – “Goodbye, My Brother”
4.  Flannery O’Connor – “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
5.  Nikolai Gogol – “The Nose”
6.  O. Henry – “The Ransom of Red Chief”
7.  Etgar Keret – “The Nimrod Flipout”
8.  Katherine Mansfield – “Bliss”
9.  Guy de Maupassant – “The Necklace”
10.  Katherine Anne Porter – “Flowering Judas”
J.  Anton Chekhov – “Gooseberries”
Q.  Alice Munro – “Tricks”
K.  Raymond Carver – “Cathedral”

Clubs  (authors perhaps better known for other forms of literature – novels, plays, etc.)

A. Ernest Hemingway – “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”
2.  John Updike – “A & P”
3.  Eudora Welty – “Why I Live at the P.O.”
4.  Roald Dahl – “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”
5.  Denis Johnson – “Emergency”
6.  Nathaniel Hawthorne – “Young Goodman Brown” (recommended to me)
7.  Joyce Carol Oates – “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
8.  J. D. Salinger – “For Esme – with Love and Squalor”
9.  D. H. Lawrence – “Odour of Chysanthemums”
10.  F. Scott Fitzgerald  – “Bertha Bobs Her Hair”
J.  Oscar Wilde – “The Nightingale and the Rose”
Q.  Margaret Atwood – “Death by Landscape”
K.  Vladimir Nabokov – “Signs and Symbols”

Hearts  (masters of the strange, surreal and/or speculative)

A.  Stephen King – “Harvey’s Dream”
2.  J. G. Ballard – “The Voices of Time”
3.  Jorge Luis Borges – “The Library of Babel”
4.  Octavia E. Butler – “Speech Sounds”
5.  China Miéville – “Covehithe”
6.  Ted Chiang – “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”
7.  Ursula K. Le Guin – “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”
8.  H.P. Lovecraft – “Pickman’s Model”
9.  Franz Kafka – “In the Penal Colony”
10.  Haruki Murakami – “Samsa in Love”
J.  Jack Finney “The Love Letter”
Q.  Angela Carter – “The Fall River Axe Murders”
K.  Ray Bradbury – “The Sound of Thunder”

Spades  (modern authors I’ve never read or read very little of and want to dig into)

A.  Sherman Alexie – “Saint Junior” (recommended to me)
2.  Amy Bloom – “Silver Water”
3.  Mary Gaitskill – “A Romantic Weekend”
4.  William Gay – “The Paperhanger”
5.  Amy Hempel – “In the Cemetary Where Al Jolson is Buried”
6.  Stephen Graham Jones – “Father, Son, Holy Rabbit”
7.  Yiyun Li – “Extra”
8.  ZZ Packer – “Brownies”
9.  Steven Millhauser “Cathay”
10.  Tobias Wolff – “Bullet in the Brain”
J.  George Saunders – “Sea Oak”
Q.  Lorrie Moore – “Dance in America”
K.  Donald Barthelme – “The School”


6 thoughts on “Deal Me In 2014 – A Short Story Reading Challenge

  1. What a great line-up you’ve assembled! I’ve read 14 of them (some in prior years of my doing this project) but there are also twenty new-to-me authors in your roster. I look forward to being introduced to them by you. I’ve become a Murakami fan since I began blogging. I haven’t read the story you chose, however, so I’ll look forward to hearing about that one too. 🙂

    I’m thrilled you decided to participate with us. I hope you come to enjoy “Deal Me In” as much as I have.


  2. I love the deck of cards concept, and I really like how you divvied yours up. Super fun.

    And yay for China Mieville!

    Good luck with this one. Tempted to give it a go myself, but that’s a big commitment. May have to marinate on it…

  3. Candiiss, you have a great list! ” For Esme – With Love and Squalor” is one of my favorites. In fact, my 2013 list included 8 out of Salinger’s nine short stories. I had read “Esme” in 2012. Hope you have as much fun doing this as I did last year. I’m looking forward to 2014.

  4. What I love about this challenge is that our lists are all so different! It’s so exciting. You list is really great! We have the same authors but different selections we get to compare notes. 🙂

    I hope you have lots of fun with them. Good luck!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s