Thursday, November 3, 2011

Treasure Troves of Short Stories: Reading Anthologies

When people encounter the word "anthology," they tend to think back to the large, heavy English textbooks with fuzzy pictures of boats sailing on stormy seas they had back in elementary school. Some English majors wince at the memory of those Norton anthologies. Sure, the stories in those were classics and very well written... But reading Walden Pond in tiny script on thin, flimsy paper can be torture. Anthologies, in general, do not have good connotations that come along with them.

Anthologies really do get the short end of the sticks from which they are made. There are some really great anthologies out there! A lot of my favorite short stories come from anthologies. If you have a favorite genre, the chances are pretty high that some authors you like have come together and written short stories fitting one theme or sharing characters. You might even find several new authors you'll enjoy!

The great thing about anthologies is that they require less commitment than full books do. I love full books, but sometimes not being able to put a story down can be a bad thing when it's 3 o'clock in the morning and you have an 8 a.m. class. Short stories are like cookies. Having one is really good. Getting a package with a dozen inside is even better because you can have some now and save the rest for later!

Here are some anthologies I personally recommend:

This book can be categorized as Young Adult and Romance. I love the way all of the stories come together. Some of the characters run into each other from the other stories. I love stuff like that.

The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm
I recently checked this out from my university's library for my honors thesis on the evolution of fairies. I probably won't be using it, but it has great stories!

Are there any anthologies you enjoy?


  1. So I'm probably gonna need to borrow books from you. You know how it is. I love Oliver Sacks books. Not quite anthologies, but can be treated like them because they are all individual psychological case studies. And they are all incredibly fascinating.

  2. I love anthologies! They really are a great way to find some good authors. Not to mention the fact the several Authors take their "shorter" works to be their hobby in a way - it's like their fun thing they do when they're not writing a novel and I think that's cool.

  3. I have the Norton Anthology of American Literature, and i completley love it. It chronicles short storay and essays from the colonial period up the the romantic period.
    the is nothing like a great compliation of stories that have a stream of emotional connection. as one writing ends and another begins, one can see the connections
    PS My Favorite Book EVER is Walden... lol

  4. I love The Faery Reel! The eponymous poem is by Neil Gaiman, who has published several collections of short stories that are all his own. Do you enjoy single-author collections as well, or do they loose something in the spirit of variety?

  5. Let It Snow is one of my favorite anthologies. It's really cool to see three quirky styles come together that way. Not to mention that it's making me excited for Christmas!

  6. Eleanor-
    I read both kinds, but I do feel that it loses a little something. Authors have their own individual styles, and part of the thrill of anthologies (for me, at least) is the shifting perspective and voice. With the same author, it is harder to get that. Of course, for some people, the differing styles can feel choppy and disorienting.