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Book Related Banter > Short Story Collections: How Do You Read Them?

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message 1: by Xian Xian (new)

Xian Xian (xianxian) I thought of reading The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka. I'm not a frequent short story reader and sometimes I find it hard to read short story collections. I do like Kafka though. I thought of just reading the ones that interested me first, picking stories at random until I read all of them. do you read them in order, from first to last or do you just pick one and read it and then pick another random one? there's no specific way of reading collections right? unless, they are written in a certain order, like let's a trilogy of novels combined into one.

message 2: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10003 comments Mod
I usually just read them in order. I'm not one for skipping around and keeping track of what I've read and still need to read.

message 3: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 615 comments i usually read in order as well - because its easier

message 4: by Author William (new)

Author William Fripp (william_fripp) | 5 comments I love short stories! I read them in order as's fun to see the progression and character development...I especially like short stories from authors who continue the stories in longer adaptations, like Robert E. Howard...

message 5: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (morethanfairytales) | 63 comments Depends on the book. Some collections don't have to be read in order, while others (B.J. Novak's One More Thing comes to mind here) make references to previous stories as the collection progresses.

message 6: by Heather L (last edited Jul 05, 2016 08:41AM) (new)

Heather L  (wordtrix) I usually read in order, fitting in one or a few at a time between other books.

message 7: by Don (new)

Don | 52 comments I read in order because -- as the author of a story collection -- I think it's a good bet that the writer (or editor) took some care to put the stories in a particular order.

Why not try for the cumulative effect that the writer or editor most likely had in mind?

This is more the case if the stories are linked, as mine are.

I'm going to link to my book, on the assumption that it's allowed. I'm sure Lori will kill it if it's not.

message 8: by Natalie (new)

Natalie (aquariusnat) | 41 comments I usually read straight through . Most short story collections , at least recently , have an overall theme and/or a subplot throughout the collection.

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I usually read the stories in random order, unless the stories are related. For instance, in Olive Kitteredge the same characters appeared in several different stories so I read them in order.

My decision about which story to read usually depends on its length. If the story is long, say 20 pages or more, I will wait until I have enough time to get through the whole thing.

I usually like novels or non-fiction more than short stories. So I don't read many stories. However, I recently read Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri and I liked all of her stories. I think she is an excellent writer.

message 10: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I am a habitual re-reader, so I always read in order the first time and then on subsequent reads I re-read those I really enjoyed or just seem appealing at the moment.

Like Don said, I suspect a lot of thought goes into the order of a short story collection. I liken it to an band's album.

message 11: by GracieKat (new)

GracieKat | 864 comments I read them in order. If it's a longer anthology I'll break it up with other books sometimes. Like i was recently reading Complete Collection Of H.P.Lovecraft - 150 eBooks With 100+ Audio Book Links but it is super long so i was breaking it up with some Lovecraft/Cthulhu themed short story collections.

message 12: by Sharyl (new)

Sharyl (sharyls) | 178 comments I don't read many short story collections, but when I do, I read them in order, and like Grace, I often read them concurrently with something else. It's always my feeling that the particular order of the stories was set for some reason, and I don't want to miss any of the intended affect :)

message 13: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Mclaren | 292 comments I've gotten into reading short story collections more recently than I have in the past and I have to say what I do with them is use them sort of like palate cleansers. Especially, if I've read something really long and heavy, a short story seems to be just the thing to read afterwards before diving into another big book.

Now I realize that not all short stories can be read that way and with certain collections, I've found myself reading them one right after the other, but usually, I like the idea that I can finish one in an evening and then dive into something very different afterwards.

message 14: by Tabitha (last edited Oct 30, 2015 04:32AM) (new)

Tabitha Vohn | 164 comments I'm one of those people who thrive on order and organization, so reading short stories out of order makes me die inside a little (jk). It's sort of like listening to an album; the musicians put their songs in a specific order for a reason. Sometimes, stories in collections build on one another in the same way.

I also prefer the intimacy and depth that comes with novel-length works--short stories are like passing cars in the night; you see them for a split second and then they're gone--but a really great collection can make it worth the read.

Here are a few that I absolutely loved:
From Here by Jen Michalski In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss Blood Roses by Francesca Lia Block This Place You Return To Is Home by Kirsty Gunn

message 15: by Pamk (new)

Pamk | 20 comments I loved the analogy of cars passing in the night - so beautifully described! I'm also typically not a huge fan of short stories, but your recommendations have been added to my huge TBR mountain - they sound amazing.

message 16: by Victor (new)

Victor Davis (victor-a-davis) | 18 comments It usually depends. The Roald Dahl Omnibus: Perfect Bedtime Stories for Sleepless Nights or The Complete Stories? Out of order, usually for reference. Because the author didn't intentionally pick the order. But Interpreter of Maladies or How to Breathe Underwater? I definitely read them in order because a lot of times the author has some kind of intent with the cadence of the stories. Rarely are they printed alphabetically or chronologically.

message 17: by Samantha (new)

Samantha I think it depends on the collection. Most times I'll just read them in the order the author intended for them to be in though. I find it easier that way

message 18: by Dawn (new)

Dawn | 547 comments I read them in order. As others have stated, the stories are always arranged a certain way for a certain purpose, whether it's a linked collection or not. Sometimes I read them quickly, devouring several stories at a time, and sometimes I read them slowly, one or two here and there with breaks in between.

However, in rare circumstances I've read "The Collected/Complete Stories of So-and-So" out of order or even skipped certain stories, but they were authors I was already familiar with, and they were career collections so the order's not as important.

I lovelovelove short stories - I read them often and I've been writing them for years (and I've been lucky enough to see several of them published). I love Tabitha's analogy of short stories being like cars passing in the night - that's one of the things I love most about them (if done well, of course). I've always said a short story is like a film while a novel is like a TV mini-series or season.

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