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August 9, 2012 by jooshanoosh

Lately, I’ve become addicted to the Kindle Single. A Kindle single is essentially a short story, or long-form article but in a shiny and new techno friendly package. I’m a sucker for shiny and new. It’s pretty much a given that at any restaurant I will order whatever is the weirdest thing on the menu, I always want to buy those limited edition Ben & Jerry’s cartons and if there is a new TV show that has strong buzz I feel physical pain until I jump on the bandwagon.

The odd thing is, in their traditional form (ie. in books) I never read short stories. I can’t get into them for some reason. Something about knowing that the characters I am reading about will only exist for a small number of pages in that big thick book of stories looses my interest. But when the “book” is my Kindle or my phone, I don’t have that same barrier.

So here is my top whatever number I get to list of favorite Kindle singles. And if you don’t have a Kindle, no problem. Just get the Kindle app on your smart phone. These singles are short enough that reading on your phone during a couple of lunch breaks is realistic. If you don’t have a smart phone, first of all, wow. How do you keep yourself occupied at doctors offices? Or waiting in line? Or stoplights? And secondly, you can read Kindle books on your web browser. Once you buy one, Amazon will tell you how. Please do enjoy:

1. I’m Starved for You by Margaret Atwood. 

I love, love, love, love, love Margaret Atwood. She paints great dystopian futures that are both terrifying and totally believable. In this Single, she imagines a world where people live half their life normally and half in voluntary incarceration. It is mysterious and dystopic and fun.

2. The Sum of my Parts by James Sanford
This is a memoir about a man who, in his late 30s, is diagnosed with testicular cancer. It is touching and funny and entertaining and makes you think about how you react to people around you who have cancer.

3. The New World by Patrick Ness.
There is no point in reading this Single, which is basically a prequel, unless you have read Patrick Ness’s brilliant Chaos Walking series (starting with The Knife of Never Letting Go.) They are a little tough to get into – they series tells about a group of interplanetary settlers who are looking for a place to live after Earth is destroyed. They come across a planet that is perfect in every way, except there is a virus on the planet that causes all of the thoughts and emotions of men to be broadcast out loud where anyone can hear them. But they are great tales of loyalty and terrorism and how do you know who and what is evil. Please read them. And then you can read this free single about the settlers arrival on the planet.

4. Shaken, Not Stirred by Tim Gunn
Yes, THAT Tim Gunn. If you haven’t read Mr. Gunn’s fantastic biography Gunn’s Golden Rules you should. It will change the way you look at the world and he is quite a talented and believable writer. This Single is about his dad, who was in the FBI and worked for J. Edgar Hoover and later in life developed Alzheimer’s. Poignant and charming.

5. Don’t Eat Cat by Jess Walter
I know, I know. Even I’m getting a little sick of the Zombie thing. But this is a funny and well told story about a world where people voluntarily become zombies and zombies work at Starbucks and eat cats. And Jess Walter is a great writer (read his Beautiful Ruins, too.)

6. The Heart of Haiku by Jane Hirshfield
While this biographical essay of Basho, the 16th century Japanese master of the Haiku, can at times be a little dry, it is worth it to read a variety of Basho’s work. He was a genius.

7. The Getaway Car by Ann Patchett
If you are a writer, or a wannabe writer, or remotely interested in writing, or an Ann Patchett fan, then this is required reading. Ms. Patchett elegantly describes so many things about writing that I have always instinctively known to be true: that it is a craft and super hard, that the idea is the easy part and that the discipline of writing is like any other discipline. I wish those things weren’t true. Why can’t I just come up with a great idea for a YA novel and then Stephanie Meyerize it into book deals and movie rights? Because you have to sit down and do the work.

So if you have never read a Single, there are a few choices to get you started. And you could probably buy all of them for less than $20. And, yes, you could just go get a book of short stories from the library and get much the same affect. But you can’t read those paper short stories on your shiny iPhone, so what’s the point, really?

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