OPL Reading Challenge: Collection of Short Stories or Essays

In 2019, OPL invites patrons to take part in the reading challenge! Each month, OPL will highlight a theme and offer suggestions for titles to read or listen to. As you’re working through the challenge, feel free to tag @omahalibrary on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to let us know which read you picked up this month!

Short story collections are usually how I find new authors. I check out a collection and look up writers that stood out to me when I finish it, so I was excited to write this blog post. Thanks to my colleagues who gave me some suggestions for books to feature. I compiled all the books in this post, plus a few more, into this list.

The book I read for this month’s challenge was "The Future Is Female!, opens a new window” This collection of science fiction stories starts in the Pulp era of the 1920s, and extends into the New Wave era of the 1960s, when women started to be recognized as science fiction writers. The collection showcases stories from the likes of C L Moore, opens a new windowKate Wilhelm, opens a new window, Joanna Russ, opens a new window, James Tiptree Jr, opens a new window, and Ursula K Le Guin, opens a new window.

There are two options with short story collections. 1) A collection by many different authors, like the work I referenced above. 2)  A collection with a variety of short works by the same author. Examples of collections include the “Best American, opens a new window” series, “Rogues, opens a new window,” or a children’s collection “Flying Lessons & Other Stories, opens a new window” For those interested in reading a collection by a single author, try “Uncommon Type, opens a new window” by Tom Hanks, “Welcome to the Monkey House, opens a new window” by Kurt Vonnegut, opens a new window, “American Housewife, opens a new window” by Helen Ellis, opens a new window, and “And Thereby Hangs A Tale, opens a new window” by Jeffery Archer, opens a new window.

For those who prefer nonfiction, essay collections are an option. David Sedaris, opens a new window is witty and engaging, whether in one of his older works such as “Naked, opens a new window,” or his latest “Calypso.” Choose from a variety of topics, from adulthood in “Tell Me More, opens a new window” by Kelly Corrigan,, opens a new window to living in the wilderness in “Raising Wild, opens a new window” by Michael Branch; , opens a new windowor use this challenge to explore classics such as “Collected Essays, opens a new window” by James Baldwin, opens a new window.

I like the feeling of moving from one complete idea to another that reading a short story or essay collection gives me. I also love to see how one or many authors can come up with so many variations on a theme. Hopefully this post gives you some ideas of what kinds of collections you would like to explore this month.