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October 2023

Picture of CaseyDear Readers,

Short story collections that are interconnected are some of my favorite types of books. Each story can stand on its own while also linking together. The reading experience is like peeling an onion—with each story you get a new layer of information and understanding. Then, you let your imagination fill in the gaps. I feel like interconnected short stories activate my brain, and my empathy, more than many other types of books.

That is why I was so excited to read a new collection of interconnected short stories that knocked my socks off. Company by Shannon Sanders follows one family over multiple generations and their experiences with each other and with the world as Black Americans. The stories highlight how people who grew up in the same place can have different viewpoints, approaches, and experiences in the world. The fact that Company is a debut makes it even more astounding. I am excited to place it next to some of my other favorite interconnected short stories or novels told through separate but connected chapters: The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra, There, There by Tommy Orange, Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout (also Olive Kitteridge but I read Anything is Possible first so it holds a special place in my heart), A Visit from the Goon Squad and The Candy House by Jennifer Egan, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips to name a few. 

If you don't think you are a short story reader, try an interconnected collection. You just might find yourself appreciating one of the many fascinating and powerful ways to approach storytelling.


Happy reading,

Casey Coonerty Protti
Owner, Bookshop Santa Cruz

Books I'm loving now:
The Prospectors by Ariel Djanikan
Those of us in California know a lot more about the California gold rush than the Alaskan gold rush. That is why Ariel Djanikan's historical novel, charting one family's journey from rags to riches in the Klondike, is a fresh and fascinating account of the implications of the Rush not only for one family but for many communities, including indigenous people, over generations.
The Wren, the Wren by Anne Enright
Three generations of women in one family explore the long-felt consequences of belonging as they grapple with abandonment by the family's patriarch- an Irish poet who could write about love more than he could give it. Enright's brilliance is the way she can infuse each generation with feeling that both separates their experience, but ultimately binds the characters together in profound ways.
The Caretaker by Ron Rash
This tender story of a friendship between two men, one who is off serving in the Korean War and the other who quietly cares for his pregnant wife, will surprise you not only because it breaks free from the common love triangle narrative, but because it speaks to loyalty, friendship, empathy, and understanding in quiet but powerful ways. A beautiful book from start to finish.