You know how life is already too busy to fit anymore commitments and "things I need to do" into your schedule? Well, as writers it’s a never ending battle to stuff more and more of these additional elements into our lives. Such elements include social networking, marketing of our written pieces, blogging, and etc. However, as we stuff more elements in the time for the essential responsibilities as writers - reading and writing - dwindles faster and faster. This of course is not always true for everyone, but I'm betting it is true for a good majority. One way I like to fight back against this ugly truth is by reading short story and poetry collections. They are the perfect "bite-size" reading snack that fit into small chucks of time.
Because what often happens when life gets busy unexpectedly and you're maybe half way through a novel? Most often the novel gets dropped for days, weeks, or months at a time. Then when you try to go back, it's hard to get back into the flow of the narrative and/or you may have to start over. Conversely, short story and poetry collections have ample start and end points for readers to choose from as their reading times allows. And leaving such collections to sit for extended periods of time is not as difficult to pick up again once life calms down. True, the reader's overall sense of the collection as a whole may be weaker but their sense of the author's style and voice will be stronger. The reader's exposure to the multiple complete stories/poems by the author will give them a good variety of what the author is able to accomplish.
Lastly, short story and poetry collections that feature different authors is a wonderful way to expose oneself to new authors. Below I've included a list of short story and poetry collections I've enjoyed this past year.
Telling Tales, edited by Naine Gordimer
Civilwarland in Bad Decline, by George Saunders
Nine Stories, by J.D. Salinger
The Pajamaist, by Matthew Zapruder