Short Stories About Books

Books, reading, or libraries play an important part in these stories, or they are important to a main character.

Exchange | Ray Bradbury

Miss Adams, the head librarian, stays late to get everything in order. She hears knocking at the front door; a man in uniform wants to come in. She tells him they’re closed. He asks her if she remembers him.

Read “Exchange”

An Hour with Abuelo | Judith Ortiz Cofer

Arturo doesn’t want to visit his grandfather in a nursing home during his summer vacation, but he gives in to his mother’s urging. His grandfather’s body is giving out but his mind is sharp. He tells Abuelo the story of his life, which included teaching, the army, farming, and a love of books and learning.

Read “An Hour with Abuelo”

Ed Has His Mind Improved | Walter R. Brooks

The narrator tells the story of Willie Pope, who told everyone he had a talking horse. Of course no one believed him. Willie soon teaches Ed to read, as their taste in reading material differs. Willie likes things that improve the mind; Ed likes more entertaining stories. Ed becomes a voracious reader. When Willie has to go away on business, Ed runs out of books.

The Kugelmass Episode | Woody Allen

An unhappily married humanities professor, making no progress with his analyst, seeks help from a magician / entertainer. The magician says he can send the man into the world of any book he wants.

Read “The kugelmass Episode”

The Public Library | Isaac Babel

The narrator describes some of the employees and patrons of a public library where books reign supreme.

Read “The Public Library”

The Library of Babel | Jorge Luis Borges

The narrator’s universe is a room containing every possible book. Most of them are complete nonsense, but it must also contain all the world’s wisdom and accurate prophecy.

Read “The Library of Babel”

A Continuity of Parks | Julio Cortazar

A man relaxes with a novel that he had started earlier. In it a woman and her lover are scheming against her husband. The man reading becomes immersed in the story.

Read “A Continuity of Parks”

A General in the Library | Italo Calvino

Officials in Panduria decide that books are a threat because they might point out that generals make mistakes and war isn’t always glorious. General Fedina is sent to examine all the books in Panduria’s biggest library. The librarian, Signor Crispino, helps the General and his staff go thru the books.

Read “A General in the Library”

Community Life | Lorrie Moore

Olena, a librarian, meets Nick, a political campaigner, and they start a relationship. She misses her parents who were killed in a car crash. Olena keeps to herself a lot, while Nick interacts with many people.

Forewarned | Saki

Alethia has limited interaction with others. Her ideas about life and people were acquired thru reading novels. She is going to visit her aunt and cousin. She uses her knowledge from novels to make assumptions about the people she will meet.

Read “Forewarned”