Reading 52 short stories in 2017

EDITED – Why do I read short stories? When you can explain to me how a great short story writer manages to tell a complete tale by a few paragraphs, each meaningful and bewitching, I will pull you aside and tell you not the reason but the reading experiences, each unfeigned and memorable, which draw the entire picture of my reason.

I am a relatively new short story reader, having only patronized the fruits of this challenging craft less than five years ago. While I cannot remember the first short story I read or the first that left a distinct impression on my senses, I know that one short story just led to another, from one writer in America to a writer in India, from gothic genre to social development issues.

Then my feet would drag me to book sales and my heart would easily flutter at the sight of a short story collection whose writer I haven’t even heard or read about until that time. The books naturally start to pile up.

short stories

Reading A Story. Realism Painting by James Tissot (1878-1879). Retrieved from on December 25, 2016.

Short stories are, to me, addictive, taunting me to read a few provocative lines until I would realize I have read the entire composition. They lend a glimpse into events that could have unfurled around the writer at the time of writing the story and offer me the chance to see and understand them through the writer’s lens.

Briefly yet satisfactorily, these good short stories would introduce me to various teasing scenes: the kaleidoscope of a curiosity shop; a corpse’s advanced stage of putrescence; long hair as black as coal, cared for like one would for a child; and the chattering neighbor’s attention and concern that is often, or perhaps rightly,  dismissed as gossip.

The appetite for discovering new scenes from worlds beyond my boundaries, as depicted in the short stories written with tremendous skill, encourages me, after careful thought, to join Deal Me In 2017: Short Story Reading Challenge created and hosted by Jay of Bibliophilopolis. It is the sort of challenge that reinforces my reading habits and nurtures my love of short stories.

A new participant, I took some time understanding the mechanics. For my 52 short stories, I decided to go local: pre-war stories by Filipino writers, modern short stories, speculative fiction, those with traditional genre mixed with other types of genre, social development issues, and even a bit of folklore. I will most likely treat the wild card as an excuse to read short stories by non-Filipino writers, like O.Henry.

I will be actively reading the anthologies of Renato E. Madrid, the pen-name of Fr. Rudy Villanueva, a remarkably talented priest from my hometown; Estrella Alfon, my most favorite short story writer who was also born in Cebu and recognized nationwide for her talent as a playwright and writer; and Catherine Torres, a new-to-me writer and just a couple of years older than me, so I would like to learn from her perspectives, too. The rest is a mix of stories from two other interesting anthologies.

(New note: After I went for New Year to my parents’ house where I left a lot of my books before moving in with my husband, I found old gems of Philippine literature, including short stories by F. Sionil Jose, T.D. Agcaoili and Gilda Cordero-Fernando. I’ll be reading some of them for this event. The ones I struck out will be reserved for another time. There are so many on my shelves. I even found collections of stories by the revered Tiempos: Edilberto K. Tiempo’s The Paraplegics and Five Short Stories, Edith L. Tiempo’s Abide, Joshua and Other Stories and Rowena Tiempo-Torrevillas’s Upon the Willows and Other Stories. But my list of 52 short stories for this event is filled already, so chances are I’ll be reading more than 52 stories. Join me?)

Philippine short stories

Here are some of my anthology collections I’ll be reading for Deal Me In 2017. Photo © Nancy Cudis.


  • A – Southern Harvest by Renato E. Madrid
  • 2 – Waywaya by F. Sionil Jose
  • 3 – Mill of the Gods by Estrella Alfon
  • 4 – Three Generations by Nick Joaquin
  • 5 – A Gift of Tongues by Renato E. Madrid
  • 6 – Cielo by Jhoanna Cruz Tong by F. Sionil Jose
  • 7 – Mariposa Gang by Catherine Torres
  • 8 – Cameo by Jose Dalisay Jr.
  • 9 – The Leper by Renato E. Madrid
  • 10 – Urban Legends by Charles Tan Arbol de Fuego by F. Sionil Jose
  • J – The Woman on the Steeple by Estrella Alfon
  • Q – Blown Glass by Catherine Torres
  • K – The Death of Anacleto by Renato E. Madrid


  • A – Things by Dean Francis Alfar Hero by F. Sionil Jose
  • 2 – The Race Up to Heaven by Gilda Cordero-Fernando
  • 3 – Hibernation by Catherine Torres
  • 4 – The Greatest Friends in the World by Renato E. Madrid
  • 5 – Hear the Wind Turning by Ines Taccad Cammayo A Fear of Heights by Gilda Cordero-Fernando
  • 6 – Disappearances by Exie Abola Food–A Story of Hunger by T.D. Agcaoili
  • 7 – Anguish by Estrella Alfon
  • 8 – The Hand by Marianne Villanueva Pride by F. Sionil Jose
  • 9 – Greenhich Standard Time by Renato E. Madrid
  • 10 – In Earthen Vessels by Rodello Santos The Visitation of the Gods by Gilda Cordero-Fernando
  • J – Cafe Masala by Catherine Torres
  • Q – Fairy Tale for the City by Estrella Alfon
  • K – Boylet by Chuckberry J. Pascual Voyage by F. Sionil Jose


  • A – The Chieftest Mourner by  Aida Rivera Ford The Wall Between Us by F. Sionil Jose
  • 2 – Eyes of the Elephant by T.D. Agcaoili
  • 3 – Ginseng by Marianne Villanueva Progress by F. Sionil Jose
  • 4 – The Bag Lady by Catherine Torres
  • 5 – The Eye of the Peacock by Renato E. Madrid
  • 6 – Mannequins by Catherine Torres
  • 7 – Apartment II (from A Lion in the House) by Lina Espina-Moore
  • 8 – The Ascension of Our Lady Boy by Mia Tijam Dama de Noche by F. Sionil Jose
  • 9 – The Gentle Rain by Estrella Alfon
  • 10 – The Well-Tempered Widow by Renato E. Madrid
  • J – Gilt-Edged Shadows by Catherine Torres
  • Q – Biga-on by Vicente Garcia Groyon
  • K – Glo (from The Hand of the Enemy) by Kerima Polotan


  • A – The Datu’s Daughters by Raymond G. Falgui Flotsam by F. Sionil Jose
  • 2 – A Harvest of Humble Folk by Gilda Cordero-Fernando
  • 3 – Minor Collision by Renato E. Madrid
  • 4 – Man of the Cloth by Catherine Torres
  • 5 – Gravity is Just a Good Idea by Princess F. Marasigan Gutter Rats by T.D. Agcaoili
  • 6 – Water from the Well by Estrella Alfon
  • 7 – The Music Child by Alfred A. Yuson
  • 8 – Plunge by Catherine Torres
  • 9 – How I Spent my Summer Vacation by Renato E. Madrid
  • 10 – The Key by Socorro Federis Tate The Eye of a Needle by Gilda Cordero-Fernando
  • J – Eliza Hansen (from State of War) by Ninotchka Rosca Gangrene by F. Sionil Jose
  • Q – Compostela by Estrella Alfon
  • K – The Sema by Catherine Torres

If you like reading short stories as much as I do, or if you don’t, consider joining the Deal Me In challenge, which is basically asking you to read only one short story a week. Along the way, you might find your reason for loving them more or discover your reason for at least respecting them.

6 thoughts on “Reading 52 short stories in 2017

  1. Hi Nancy,
    I am really looking forward to learning about these Filipino writers from following your Deal Me In progress. My DMI for 2016 touched the Philippines twice, but only in non-fiction stories, so I was hungry for more. Good luck with the challenge, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have come to. -Jay


    • I’ll check that out, Jay. It seems I have a lot of catching up to do. I haven’t blogged for a year or so due to health reasons and now I’m slowly returning to book blogging and I’m going to do it with the help of a couple of challenges like yours. I’m happy to know you’ve read some Philippine non-fiction stories. I might tweak a bit my list here since I still have to seek out the other anthologies by Filipino writers I have at my parents’ house during New Year. The bottom line is, I’ll be reading all Filipino short stories for Deal Me In 2017. Thank you for creating and hosting this! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read some anthologies before. There have been a few memorable stories but I always want more when that’s the case. I have to see if I find a couple of anthologies or short stories to read in the new year. Good luck with the challenge!


    • Thanks. I know, I understand you. A short story can be complete yet incomplete. If you find an interesting short story worth recommending, you might want to let me know so I can check it out. I’m a sucker for short stories. I guess this post shows that. 😀


  3. I’m so excited you’re doing this challenge. I haven’t heard of many of these, so I look forward to what you think about them and what you’d recommend. I also decided to do this challenge, but with short nonfiction (because so far I’ve never managed to plan out a short story reading list).


    • Ah, essays… If this event will have another round next year, I’ll take up essays or short nonfiction. For this year, I made a writer’s vow to improve my craft by reading more local stuff. I’m looking forward to your thoughts on what you’ve read for this challenge. Happy New Year, Hila! 🙂


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