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


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!


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


8 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.

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  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

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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.

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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! ^_^

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  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

  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


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