I think short stories are fantastic. I have worn out many copies of the Nick Adams Stories.. but, my favorite book of short stories is Winesburg, Ohio from Sherwood Anderson. Anderson's stories completely capture a time and place, a spirit and a community that is so real. This book influenced so many other writers and yet, Anderson is not mentioned often, which is too bad. My son is studying to be an English teacher and I got him to read Wing Beedlebaum and we discussed it and he asked, 'are the rest of the stories in the book this good?' and I nodded... he smiled and said, 'there are just a lot of great stories, you'd never run out of things to read.' I love Gretel Ehrlich too for more non fiction type stuff and maybe my other favorite would be Annie Proulx... her depiction of Wyoming is... well, singular. Who are some of your favorites?