How to read short story collections?
Posted by BookerTalk
My list of titles for 20booksofsummer includes two short story collections. The Thing Around my Neck is a collection by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that I picked up in the Oxfam stand at the Hay Festival. At a library sale I found a copy of An Elegy for Easterly by the Zimbabwean writer Petina Gappah which earned her the Guardian first book award in 2009.
Both have been on my ‘to read’ pile for about three years so I thought it was time to pay them some attention. Problem is that I’ve never been much of a fan of short stories. I’ve read only one other collection so I don’t know how best to approach reading these two books. I’m hoping those of you who are more regular readers of this form can come up with some recommendations on how to get the most out of reading the collections.
Do I start at the beginning and just work through the stories in the order in which they appear? Or do I begin with the titular story on the basis that this could have special significance – was it chosen because it sets the tone for the collection perhaps? Or do I just choose randomly?
Is it best to dip in and out of the collection, mixing it up with another book? If I do that I’m concerned I might lose the flow but then if I just read one after the other will they start to blur into one?
So far I’ve just glanced over both of these books and have liked what I’ve seen so far. I don’t want to spoil the experience. All advice will be welcomed.