Let’s Talk Anthologies

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Anthologies — collections of short stories, essays, or poems — are great for light reading when you don’t have the time for a full book commitment. Anthologies are also a perfect choice for busy bookclubs or read-a-longs because you can read a whole story in one easy sitting. PS they make wonderful gifts for reluctant readers that you’re trying to convert. Here are some of my favorite anthologies to get you started:

1. Chicken Soup For the Soul – Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen

Two inspirational speakers share the best of their collected stories that have touched the hearts of people everywhere. Each bite-sized story is filled with wisdom, hope, and empowerment to lift you up during dark moments. Some of my favorite motivational stories are in this book. Ohhhh the feels . . .

2. Scary Stories to tell in the Dark – Alvin Schwartz

Popular collection of American folklore filled with tales of eerie horror and dark revenge that will scare your socks off! There’s a story here for everyone — skeletons with torn and tangled flesh who roam the earth; a ghost who takes revenge on her murderer; and a haunted house where every night a bloody head falls down the chimney. Great for a quick spooky bedtime read but even better for sleep-overs or campouts.

3. One Thousand and One Arabian Nights – Geraldine McCaughrean
(The book I’m reading pictured above.) King Shahryar kills a new wife every night, because he is afraid she will stop loving him. But his new bride Shahrazad has a clever plan to save herself. Her nightly stories–of Sinbad the Sailor, Ali Baba, and many other heroes and villains–are so engrossing that King Shahryar has to postpone her execution again and again. I remember reading and loving these stories as a kid and am planning to re-read again. Full of action and adventure!

4. The Night Shift – Stephen King

More than twenty-five stories of horror and nightmarish fantasy transform everyday situations into experiences of compelling terror in the worlds of the living, the dying, and the nonliving. This book is a must for any King (or horror) fan. Lots of classics here that you may have already heard of due to their movie adaptations like  “Graveyard Shift,” “The Mangler,” “Children of the Corn,” “Trucks,” “Gray Matter,” and “Quitters Inc.”

5. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories – Flannery O’Connor 

This collection of stories about the South established O’Connor’s reputation as one of the American masters of the short story. The volume contains the celebrated title story, a tale of the murderous fugitive The Misfit, as well as “The Displaced Person” and eight other stories. I have to admit, I am not a huge literary fiction person (sorry!!!) but A Good Man is Hard to Find blew me away. This collection is not an easy read or a quick/fun one but for the lover of high-brow lit who wants to spend time peeling back the layers of story.

7. Sideways Stories from Wayside School – Louis Sachar

Classic middle grade collection of short tales about the fictional Wayside School which was built sideways, with 30 one-classroom stories. Trust me, the stories are as strange as the school’s architecture. The quirky humor in this book is appealing to both kids and adults but ideally makes a good read-aloud book to share with the youngins’.

8. The Poetry of Robert Frost, the Collected Poems – Robert Frost
My favorite poet. Need I say more? “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is magical. I’m also a big fan of “Fire and Ice” and “The Road Not Taken.” I can’t imagine you won’t find a poem here to fall in love with.

9. Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States – Dave Barry
Dave Barry, a humor columnist, assembles a hilarious version of U.S. history. I have a hard time reading historical nonfiction but this book kept my attention the whole time and I think I may have actually learned something (bonus!). I don’t know if this is technically an anthology but each chapter can be read stand-alone so I’m listing it.

10. Complete Poems and Tales – Edgar Allan Poe
All hail the king. If you like horror and short stories it just doesn’t get any better than this. My favorites are probably “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Fun fact about me, I once toured Poe’s house as a kid and was obsessed for months with the black cat stuffed animal I bought at the gift shop. If you don’t know about the black cat, read the story! Make sure you are in a dark and twisty mood for this one.