I think one of the best things about short stories is that their brevity necesitates that the author develop the character or characters in a short period through the plot of the story. We are able to look at the actions of a character, and see what happens to them to shape their person in a short peroid of time. We are quickly given the complete work and vcompelled to think about it. It is also easier to read through the story again to find more depth.
I enjoy reading short stories because they are like bite-sized ideas. You can read several of them and be exposed to a bunch of different thoughts and ideas. You can then find parallels between them and draw upon other stories that you've read. I think that reading short stories has been a good change of pace from reading novels, as we have been doing.