The Emma Press

4 Books for the Busy Life

I’m sure you’ll agree that life appears to just get busier and busier; each time I near the end of one ‘to-do’ list, another materialises before I can even consider a break. Whether it is the demands of a job; or the persistence of children; or even just those niggly little jobs that life requires of us, (like the washing – ugh, washing). For me, a busier life has meant that I have struggled to find time to fit in my reading – novels have been taking so long to read that I am finding myself losing interest without really giving them a chance. Last month, I decided to spend some time with shorter forms for writing that I could read in one sitting. The impact was instant – not only did I get back into a consistent rhythm of reading, I also found myself taking regular short breaks that have done wonders for my well-being.

Below are three amazing short story collections, and a beautiful, illustrated story that I would recommend if you’re looking for the perfect bitesize pieces to devour amid a busy schedule.

Hailman by Leanne Radojkovich

Hailman is made up of 10 slim stories that are jam-packed with silences, tense moments and images crafted in the mind like that of expert poetry. It is the tiny details captured by Radojkovich in such little space that impressed me mostly. Those tiny details help build a life around some pretty ambiguous characters. My favourites in the collection were Double Dose and Where the river meets the sea.

Postcard Stories by Jan Carson

Through 52 ‘postcard stories’, one for each week of the year, Carson presents a panoramic view of contemporary Belfast, and a panoramic view of a fascinating mind. Each small snapshot was written on the back of a postcard and posted to a friend, a beautiful story in itself! My favourites in this collection are found on Week 37 and Week 44 – both brought on some time for deep thought. I wonder, which will make you think?

The Secret Box by Daina Tabuna

Inside The Secret Box, are three stories that will stay with me for a long time – (my personal favourite being Deals with God). All three stories are set in a post-Soviet city and offer a beautiful insight into the ways that ordinary people are affected by political unrest. Each of the protagonists find themselves at a key stage in their life, and the narrative expertly explores ‘growing up’ amid the unexpected hurdles of existence.

The Dog Who Found Sorrow by Elina Braslina

Child? Adult? Animal? Any pair of eyes set on this book will be instantly mesmerised, I have no doubt. In this story we find ourselves alongside a brave, curious pooch, on a quest to find the source of the smog that has engulfed his town. Along the way, we are emersed into the world through a combination of exquisite illustrations and original storytelling. At is core is a message for all ages.


You can find Piaras on Instagram and Twitter at @shakespiaras. You can read about his experience of the work placement here.

The Emma Press is an independent publisher specialising in poetry, short fiction and children’s books. We are trying to make publishing and literature as welcoming and accessible as possible.
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