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Discussion: How do you read anthologies?

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VBC wants to know...
Anthologies tend to be hit or miss with me. The collection of multiple authors’ works can either be a great gateway to new voices (that’s how I discovered Vivi Andrews), or something that can’t hold my attention long enough.

For the sake of this discussion, there are two types of anthologies: those including a few novellas and others featuring a bevy of short stories. The novella anthos, which include three to five authors’ novella-length works, tend to be my favorites. I can get a real taste of how the authors’ novels will feel, especially those that will require a bit of world-building.

With a handful of exceptions (usually anything edited by Charlaine Harris, Toni L. P. Klener or Ellen Datlow), I have a harder time staying involved with the short story anthologies. This isn’t so much due to lack of quality, as it’s harder for me to get drawn into the collection if it flits around much. I’ll finish one 10-page section only to see the novel I just bought lying on the table. There are often so many stopping points, it’s too easy to be distracted. Frequently, I never come back to the collection.

I wonder if this is true for others. So, tell me:

1. Which type of anthology works best for you?

2.Do you like the frequent stopping points with the short story anthologies?

3. And, perhaps most importantly, are there any authors you discovered via their work in an anthology?

23 Responses to “Discussion: How do you read anthologies?”

  1. Erin says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever read the novella length ones but I have a few of the short stories anthologies because they have stories from my favourite series in them. I usually use them as a break if I’m feeling bored or unsure what to read next. I discovered Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series that way.

  2. Nicola says:

    I discovered Lora Leigh’s breeds series while reading the magical christmas cat. I was reading it for Nalini Singh’s Psychanglings, and found another series which I now love.

    i agree though, some anthologies are really difficult to get through, bit hit and miss really

  3. 1. I can’t get along with novella length stuff. Short stories are better for me.
    2. I do like the frequent stopping points. It’s a bit like chapters in full novels.
    3. Lots. I read the short story, decide I want to read more, and they get added to my ever growing goodreads list to be read at some point. At some point.

  4. Cindy Bailey says:

    Hi Chelsea!
    I thought it was just me! For about a year now I have found myself avoiding anthologies with a passion! I thought it was just me…there have been lots that has come out that I just pass them by…and there are at least 5 on my TBR self that I just can’t get into.
    I agree, though, that I have found some awesome authors by picking one up because I liked one of the authors…like Hot Blooded I found Meljean Brooks and and in Hot Spell I found Emma Holly and Lora Leigh!

  5. I definitely prefer the novella length anthologies. I’m not too fond of the short-story ones, partly because they always seem to be priced for trade paperbacks and partly because the stories always seem to be hit or miss for me.

    I did get hooked on Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series and Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke through anthologies, so that has been a great way to find new authors.

  6. Celeste O says:

    Most of the time when I read anthologies is because of an author I like has a story in it that goes along with the series. Then I end up reading all the stories because I feel bad just reading the one. I haven’t really started any new series or authors because of them. But I do like the short stories because I can read one story between reading other books.

  7. Viki S. says:

    I found Lora Leigh via an anthology and also a couple other authors but I fell in love and can’t remember who they are :) .
    I don’t mind short story anthologies as long as the story doesn’t feel slighted.

  8. Deanna says:

    Oh what a great discussion! The only anthology I’ve read so far was Wolfsbane and Mistletoe which was edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni LP Kelner, which is one of your exceptions. I loved it and found several authors that I want to try out more of their work to see what I feel about them in a longer story. Now the anthologies with novellas can be very hit or miss with me. I like the novellas that don’t advertise for more of the authors work. I wish that they could just write a novella that you really enjoy and has you deciding to go try more of their work out…not the ones that leave off that you can learn the rest of the story by checking out their up-coming novel. I hope that makes sense. If I really like a novella that is reason enough for me to go out and check out the authors work…I don’t need them to push me towards it. Pushing normally makes me bulk at the idea of going out and checking out this next novel. I do enjoy the frequent stopping points that short stories give you, it’s a good way for me to read a few stories and be able to put the book down without feeling stressed and waiting to finish a story/novel. Like I said earlier I have discovered a few authors through anthologies of both types that I would love to check out more of their work because they did such an awesome join in their novella or short story!

  9. Crap…I used the wrong blog above! That one is no longer being used. :-( Sorry! This is the correct info for my contact!

  10. Vicki says:

    I’ve discovered quite a few authors through anthologies and a few through the short stories. I’ve mostly read the 4-5 book anthologies, but also some of books with shorter stories. I’ve been bummed that some of them *don’t* belong to series. I typically do read all of the stories in an anthology at some point, maybe not at once though.

  11. Vicki says:

    Oh, I discovered Sunny (Mona Lisa series), Eileen Wilkes (World of the Lupi), Jenna Maclaine (Cin Craven) and have on my TBR list because of short stories the Dresden Files (Jim Butcher), the Vampire Files (PN Elrod), Michelle Rowen and Ava Gray. :)

  12. There are times when I wonder if some of my favorite short stories (often Sookie Stackhouse ones) would be as good if I wasn’t already familiar with the characters. Thoughts?

    • Misty says:

      Maybe so. One of my absolute favorite novellas is by Harris and although it’s featured in Sookie’s world, the characters were new to me and I still loved it.

      The story was “Dancers in the Dark” from “Night’s Edge”. Have you read it?

  13. Joanna says:

    I tride once some years ago and didn’t like it. I haven’t tried again.

  14. Lexi says:

    I mostly only enjoy an anthology if it has a snippet from a series I follow. Although I will read every other authors story in the anthology, and have found a few faves that way. If given the choice though I would pick a novel over an anthology anyday.

  15. Taria R. says:

    I haven’t had good luck with anthologies. It’s a great way to get into a new series, but I don’t like the fact that the author usually writes their stories as if every reader knows all about their character’s world already. I read the Chicks Kick Butt anthology and I liked many of the stories but I was lost in some because I didn’t understand their world and there was no help to be found in the story. I think anthologies are great for new authors since everyone can start with a clean slate.

  16. My favorite anthologies feature 4-5 stories and usually consist of authors that I already read a series written by. Love to get the anthologies with in between stories for the full length books as a way to tide me over until the next installment comes out..
    The only author I can think of off hand that I discovered in an anthology would be Chris Marie Green, found her novella in her “Vampire Babylon” series in the Omnibus in 2008 “First Blood” with Meljean Brook-Susan Sizemore and Erin McCarthy all of whom I had read before.

    Now saying the shorter ones are my faves do love the collections with 20 or 30 shorts especially if they are all a “theme” such as paranormal romance or what not. (Have found some stinkers and some keepers in those.)

  17. I can only read the novella length type of anthologies. I tried to read a short story one before and had to put it aside. I just couldn’t get through it and only read the short stories written by the authors that I knew. About 50 pages. It was such a waste.

    I was introduced to Laurell K Hamilton in an anthology that I bought because a novella of Nora Roberts was included. I think that was a pretty good find don’t you?

  18. Cindy Bailey says:

    I agree! I had to buy Strange Brew because it had part of a series that I was reading, and when I got to the part where it was “TALKING” about events that had already happened, well then I had to stop reading and find the anthology where all the action had taken place…I don’t know…it was sort of a turn off… (Jenna Maclaine series “Cin Craven”) it was the only story that mattered in the whole anthology!

  19. Mel says:

    I generally buy anthologies for one particular author. In rare cases an anthology will be full of authors I love; Unbound and Hexed have been the best.

    I was turned on to Allyson Jame’s Stormwalker series through an anthology I picked up for an Anya Bast novella. Unless the other stories are stand alone or first in a series I won’t read them. Problem is most anthologies include novellas that take place in the middle of a series. I skip those and if I ever read the series I go back. Some people may be comfortable starting with no back story but not me. I have to read it from the beginning.

    I prefer anthologies that are a collection of 4 or 5 novellas. Anthologies like Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance just have way too many and it made each story about 20 pages. It had a few shorts from authors I read so I picked it up and was beyond disappointed. The stories were too short and I just didn’t feel connected at all. I won’t buy another anthology like that.

    If life were perfect these novellas would be released as ebooks individually when the anthology is released and we could buy what we want instead of buying a $20+ book for one or two novellas. I’ve skipped out on buying several for that reason. Home Improvement: Undead Edition is one of them. I’ll wait for the paperback.

  20. Generally if I read an anthology it’s because there’s a story that fits between two series books. Though I don’t really like short stories, I’ll usually read the rest of the anthology when time is tight and I don’t have time to read a whole book.

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