Bookworm Confessions: Reading Just One Story in Anthologies

So, fellow bookworms! Here’s a very important life question:

Is it okay to just read the one book in a short story anthology that you want to read?

Because, confession:

Sometimes I only read one short story in a collection. O_O

I KNOW.

THE SHOCK. THE HORROR. THE STARES OF DOUBT.

I can feel your surprise and worrying at my living-on-the-edge actions from here.

Ahem.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? (Or is it just me??)

There’s some collection of short stories that you have, and you got it SPECIFICALLY for ONE PARTICULAR STORY OR AUTHOR in the collection. And you’re excited to read it — that particular one! So excited!

So… do you:

  1. Read the whole collection?
  2. Put off reading the whole collection because you really only want to read that one so you procrastinate the others…?
  3. Just devour that particular story right away and be happy you read it, and then… proceed to never get around to reading the others, even if you mean to? *cough* (This is usually me…)

But what do you do in that case? Because I can’t say I’ve read the book… since I haven’t! Just one tiny portion of it! But that also means I can’t, like, rate it or review it or anything… and it also bugs my poor perfectionist mind because I know I have to finish reading the entire collection SOMEDAY because I read something in there, but… I don’t feel like it right now. *collapses*

Also, short story collections are NOTORIOUSLY hit-or-miss. There’s usually one or two I really like and sometimes a whole handful that I… really don’t care for.

It’s very risky! Sort of like a blind date with a book, but it’s a whole bunch of small stories so you have SEVERAL blind dates and sometimes it doesn’t go well. XD

So is it better to read just the one you want to? Or to go all-in and brave the possibly of lots of mediocre or creepy stories?

Even if I do vaguely want to read the others, I usually don’t get around to them…

Which brings us to the list part of my confession.

Some anthologies I’ve read a story or two in but shamefully haven’t gotten around to reading the rest:

1. Firebirds

I got this so I could read a Lloyd Alexander short story and a Diana Wynne Jones short story. The Lloyd one was actually sad and creepy. o.o But the DWJ one was awesome! (It was called Little Dot and was from the POV of a cat and I loved it. XD) The rest of the stories… have sadly gone unread so far.

2. The Dragon Book

I got this partly because DRAGONS and partly because of a DWJ story. I read the DWJ story, which incidentally turned out to be THE ONLY THING I’VE READ BY HER THAT I DISLIKED. (It’s called JoBoy and I read it at a bad time because I was ill and it’s NOT sometime to read when you’re ill… Ahem.) So. Yeah. That was a disappointment… I’ve now been avoiding it because I don’t like to think about it and so I haven’t read the others yet because I don’t really know those authors… But someday…

3. Maps in a Mirror by Orson Scott Card

I got this solely to read the original novella version of Ender’s Game (which was a really interesting comparison). And promptly didn’t read any of the others. I don’t even feel like I really necessarily want to read them at this point? But it’s just sitting there, mostly unread, and I don’t know what to do with it. XD (Confession: I probably will never get around to reading the others.)

4. A Wolf at the Door

This is a collection of short story fairytale retellings, so I WILL read the rest someday, I just… haven’t yet. I mostly got it so I could read the Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling in it by Patricia A. McKillip, which I did and I seem to remember enjoying it… But I still haven’t read the others yet.

5. Tolkien: A Celebration

This one is actually essays about Tolkien by several different authors, so it’s not exactly short stories. I specifically got it so I could read the one Stephen Lawhead wrote, and I LOVED it — one of my favorite things of all time — but… I haven’t read the rest of the essays yet, so I can’t really review it or recommend it and I’m just like WHY. Because it was an amazing essay about writing and fantasy and it was by a favorite author about another favorite author, which is always DELIGHTFUL, but I haven’t read the rest so I can’t talk about it yet. I will read the others… someday…

6. Tales Before Narnia

I found an uncorrected-proofs version of this at a library sale? And I read the poem in it that Tolkien wrote (which I hadn’t ever found in anything else) and haven’t read the rest yet… They do look interesting, I just haven’t started yet. (The lack of an actual official cover, due to it being an uncorrected proof, may be slightly involved. Whoops.)

Also: Fairytales

And there are a few fairytale collections which I surreptitiously read the Twelve Dancing Princesses ones, or a couple others, and haven’t read the others yet… but I will!

…Someday.

Let’s discuss!

What about you, readers? Do you ever read short stories? And do you read entire collections or… do you live on the edge and sometimes just read one? Any reader confessions about short stories or otherwise? Tell all in the comments!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer

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15 thoughts on “Bookworm Confessions: Reading Just One Story in Anthologies

  1. On the whole, I don’t go after short stories. Especially collections by several different authors (unless I like most of those who participated), because the dreaded syndrome of “this one is great but the next four, well…” will 98% likely kick in. I have enjoyed some of Neil Gaiman’s short story anthologies — but that’s also because I like some of his novels, not all of them, and in his short stories, he really flexes his muscles on the variety of topics/genres/settings that he’s interested in writing about. But generally short stories aren’t my thing, anyway (not for writing, either) — usually I can’t get invested enough in the characters or premise, since it could be over in 10 pages, and for the most part I like to see what happens with people/the plot. Some short stories do this excellently; others just end in cliffhangers; others still become *too* long, where it’s practically a novella, and then I feel like, “Well, that’s not what I signed up for,” too far the other way.

    A couple years ago, I gave up trying to finish any book that simply wasn’t doing it for me. I’ve returned several to the library without remorse after rolling my eyes or cringing at the first 50 pages. I don’t have guilt about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t read many short stories either, which is partly why this discussion idea came up. XD I need to try more Neil Gaiman… And I agree, it’s often hard to get invested in that short of a length, ESPECIALLY when they just cliffhanger — ugh. 😛

      I’m glad you can give up on books that you aren’t enjoying! I’ve DNF-ed, like, two books, sooo… it’s not something I can really do very often. But I just… can’t not finish, really; it’s a perfectionist thing I have going. BUT I do generally enjoy most books I start, so it hasn’t been a problem for me, much.

      Great thoughts, thanks for sharing! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a very interesting discussion! I honestly don’t know what I do because…I guess I never get anthologies? Short stories just tend to not be my thing, so it’s a very rare thing for me to purposely pickup an anthology.

    BUT. All of this makes soooo much sense! Because sometimes you DO just want to read one or two of the stories. But then…you can’t mark them as read. You can’t exactly rate them. It’s just a nightmare for us OCD people! So, knowing myself, I’m pretty sure if I started an anthology I’d read the whole thing whether I like it or not because…#PerfectionistProbs

    I do actually own a copy of The Dragon Book! So one day I’m sure I’ll give that one a read. (Though I’m sad to hear you didn’t like the DWJ one. Now I’m nervous…) And I’ve been wanting a copy of Firebirds for a while.

    That one about Tolkien looks really good. And Stephen Lawhead wrote an essay in it? NEED. Also…Tolkien wrote a poem about Narnia? BECAUSE I MUST READ THIS!!!

    OKAY. Fairytales! Yes, I DO read one here and there. So I guess I do have this problem sometimes… I’ve been wanting to just pickup one of my fairytale collections and read it cover to cover but I never really have. I just on a whim will read a fairytale now and again. And if I’m about to read a retelling of a particular fairytale I like to read the original fairytale first to more enjoy it and get all the references. So on GoodReads I have my fairytales collections marked as “to-read” even though I have read a bunch of them, just not ALL of the collections. And it annoys my OCD self. SO YES. I KNOW WHERE YOU’RE COMING FROM! It’s just a confusing mess. xD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed! I’m having so much fun reading everyone’s thoughts on this! (Lookit me, starting an actual discussion. XD …And then not managing to reply to the comments for a few weeks. *cough* Sowwy…)

      Yeah, I don’t read anthologies often, BUT I do tend to pick them up at library sales if they look interesting. And then I don’t read them, and don’t know if I want to read the whole thing or just one, so it’s a mess. XD And yes, quite the nightmare for us perfectionists. 😛 (Because how do you rate it??)

      The DWJ one just was… a very little disturbing. And I honestly don’t remember it well. XD It just creeped me out a liiittle bit. But mostly because I was not feeling well at the time. You might really like it! 😀 And some of it WAS cool… I should probably re-read it someday (when I get around to reading the whole collection, maybe? XD) and I might like it now that I know what was going on. 🙂 I guess what I’m TRYING to say is you don’t have to be nervous because it might have just been me. 😛

      YES. The Stephen Lawhead essay in that Tolkien collection is one of my favorite things! And, oh, I should have clarified: the Tales Before Narnia book is a collection of short works by authors that whoever put the collection together says might have influenced Lewis in his writing. 🙂 So the poem by Tolkien was just a poem about a dragon, not ABOUT Narnia; it just was included in there as a work by one of Lewis’s influencers. 🙂

      I do that with reading just a fairytale here or there if I’m interested. 😀 So that’s awesome! Especially with retellings, yes. *nod* (Or if I want to write a retelling of that fairytale. XD) I’ve read through a couple of fairytale collections through, but most I’ve just sampled from, so yep. WE’RE SO CONFUSING. XD We should someday just get around to reading the collections, like a short story a day or something. 😛

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I muchly enjoyed them! 🙂

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  3. With the few anthologies I’ve read (just the three Rooglewood Press fairytale ones) I read all the stories, but those were put together in a way that makes them very easy to read each story back to back, I didn’t know any of the authors beforehand to only want to read one, and because of their standards, I had no concerns about the content of the stories. Were I to read an anthology by a publisher I didn’t know, or that mixed genres I didn’t like with ones I did like, I would definitely only read the ones I cared about and either skip the others, or read them with an eye towards caution.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great thoughts! Yes, I’ve read two of the Rooglewood collections, and I did read them all, so I see what you mean. (However I did read them out of order. XD Because there was a particular one in each that I wanted to read first, for reviewing purposes, so I guess I didn’t read either collection IN ORDER, even though I read both of them through by the end. :P) Yep, I totally agree! Sometimes you just don’t know what you’re getting into, and that’s why sometimes I’m a little wary/nervous about collections, because sometimes some of the stories just turn out not so great. BUT I don’t always know until I read them. :-/ Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts!! 🙂

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  4. An interesting topic! I try to read all the stories in an anthology, but sometimes I just have to skip them. If something upsets me or I just really don’t like where it’s going, I have to stop. It’s sad, but true. 😛 But luckily, most of the anthologies I’ve read have been fabulous! ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! And those are interesting thoughts! 🙂 I just have a really hard time NOT reading everything (which is why I don’t usually DNF books) but maybe sometimes I should skip stuff especially if I just am not liking it, but I don’t knowww! I’m so perfectionist-y and like to have everything finished. But good for you for skipping things if you have to! 🙂 And that’s awesome you’ve enjoyed most of them! ^_^ Thanks for sharing! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t read a lot of anthologies… as I don’t really love short stories as a general rule. I had a book of short stories that I have only read one story in, and never plan to read any of the others. The only reason I got it was because it had “The Most Dangerous Game” in it… my favorite short story ever. Fairy-tale collections, I’ll read every story eventually… depending on the length of the book, it might take me a while, as I’ll go read other things in between stories.

    The Rooglewood collections seem to be a notable exception for me. And the Fellowship of Fantasy collections… but then, I know most of the authors, so I’m excited about most of the stories in those.

    If I get an anthology and only read one story in it, and then REALLY want to review it… I will simply leave a review that clearly delineates that I am ONLY reviewing one particular story in the anthology… problem solved! I’m not very good about reviewing books, though… it takes a lot for me to get around to it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t read them often either, but seem to have acquired quite a few, hence my dilemma. XD Oh, now I’m curious about what this book is that has your favorite short story in it!! 😀 And yes, the nice thing about fairytale collections is we can pick and choose and read them out of order. 🙂

      True, with the Rooglewood and FoF collections, that makes sense. 🙂

      And that’s an EXCELLENT point, Jenelle! Leaving a review saying it’s just a review for that particular story is a good idea. 🙂 Which I may do about some at some point! ^_^ And I’m not good about reviewing books unless they’re FOR review, either. XD So I know what you mean. 😛

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  6. I don’t read many anthologies. When I do, it’s generally a tie-in with a series I love or by an author I love, and I’m desperate for more of anything I can get in that series or by that author, so I read it all the way through. Or it’s a Rooglewood collection, in which case, again, I read it all the way through because Anne Elisabeth thinks the books are good and therefore I’m willing to give them a chance. Or, when I was younger, it was a collection of classic stories (either fairy tales or something like the Book of Virtues, which I used to love), in which case I might read it all the way through or I might just read the ones that looked interesting and skip the rest. I read Grimm’s Fairy Tales all the way through several times when I was younger. That was fun . . .

    Anyway. The point of this comment: LITTLE DOT! I remember that story! I read it in a collection of DWJ stories and it was fabulous. I loved ALL THE CATS and the twists and the tie-ins with mythology and awlsdjfdlsfs;ljf. It might be my favorite of her short stories. And now I want to reread it. Darn it . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awesome. I guess when you read a tie-in or something by a favorite author (or a Rooglewood) there’s a pretty good likelihood that you’ll like it, so that works good. 😀 So yes! And I don’t read anthologies often but seem to have a lot around so I’m trying to figure out what to do about them. XD

      LITTLE DOT! Yessss! 😀 I’m so glad you liked it toooo! *huggles story* It was just awesome. 😀 Definitely one of my favorite of her short stories, though I haven’t read many. I know the collection of short stories Unexpected Magics is at my library and I neeed to get around to getting it out and reading it sometime! And I see you reread it sometime since this looong ago comment (sorry I didn’t reply sooner! o.o) so that’s awesome! 😀

      Anyways, thanks for weighing in with your thoughts! It’s been an interesting discussion! ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly. Or even if it’s recommended by the favorite author, it works. And they’re actually kind of nice because you can read a story or two and set the book down for a while, and it’s easier than stopping after a chapter, so yeah.

        I KNOW. I actually requested the book right after I made the comment and I reread it a couple weekends ago and might’ve maybe stayed up waaaaay too late reading it, but oh well. Such is life. I definitely recommend reading it.

        Liked by 1 person

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