Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reviving the Short Story Reading Challenge for 2010


I hosted the initial incarnation of the Short Story Reading Challenge in 2008 and was thrilled at the number of readers that I encountered through it who proved to be already devotees of or who were willing to embrace the short story form. I took a year off from challenges this past year, but after several expressions of interest in another round, I'm feeling enthusiastic about a revival of the Short Story Reading Challenge for 2010. So here goes. The challenge could take a number of different forms depending on your level of familiarity with short stories and on the amount of reading time you expect to have at your disposal in the coming year.

Options 1 & 2: If you're short on time, you can simply commit to reading ten short stories by ten different authors over the course of 2010. If you're relatively new to reading short stories, any ten will do. If you’ve already got a lot of short stories under your belt, make it ten short stories by ten writers whose work you have not yet read. How about that—a year long challenge that you could conceivably complete in the course of a day! Of course, I would encourage you not to do that but rather to heed the words of Mavis Gallant, short story writer extraordinaire, who advises:

Stories are not chapters of novels. They should not be read one after another, as if they were meant to follow along. Read one. Shut the book. Read something else. Come back later. Stories can wait.

Completing this version of the challenge could be as simple as participating in the short story discussions at A Curious Singularity throughout the year (after a lengthy hiatus, A Curious Singularity is also slated for revival in 2010⎯stay tuned for an announcement about that). Or picking up a short story anthology, whether of classic or contemporary stories, or of stories of a particular genre or on a particular theme, and slowly working your way through at least ten of the stories contained within. Of course, my hope is that once you get started you’ll get hooked and you’ll spiral out into other stories by those writers and more!

Options 3 & 4: If you've got a bit more time to devote to this endeavour, you can commit to reading between five and ten short story collections over the course of 2010. Again, if you're a short story novice, the world is your oyster as far as selection is concerned. But if you're a seasoned short story reader, you'll want to choose collections by writers whose short stories you have not yet encountered.

Option 5: This is the custom option under the rubric of which you can tailor your reading list to best meet your personal reading aspirations. You might wish to craft a list that focuses on a particular place, or era, or genre. Or you might wish to include reading about short stories as well as of short stories, for example, such works as Frank O'Connor's The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story. It's entirely up to you.

The blog dedicated to this challenge can be found here. On it, participants can post reading lists, recommendations, and reviews of specific short stories and short story collections, as well as ruminations on and links related to the short story form more generally. If you'd like to participate in the challenge, let me know in the comments section below or via e-mail. Even if you don't plan to participate in the challenge, please post the titles of some of your favourite shorts stories or the names of your favourite short story writers below so that participants in the challenge can benefit from your recommendations.

22 comments:

Vasilly said...

I'm so glad to hear you're starting this challenge again. I'm in. Some of my favorite short story writers are Toni Cade Bambara, John Cheever, Lauren Groff, Jane Yolen, Flannery O'Connor, Melanie Rae Thon, Peter Beagle, Neil Gaiman, and Angela Carter. One of my favorite short story anthologies is The Book of Other People edited by Zadie Smith.

Melanie said...

Oh no.

One more challenge that I can not resist.

I'll think about what level I'm going to join in with...but for now, some of my favourite short stories I read this year were by Jessica Grant, Simon van Booy, Terry Griggs, and of course LMM.

smithereens said...

I'm glad you want to revive the Curious Singularity blog! I'm not sure yet what option I'll choose, but definitely count me in for commenting on short stories in 2010. That's one of my good resolutions ;)

SFP said...

I'm in. I don't know in what capacity, but I'm in.

Dorothy W. said...

Count me in! I've been wanting to read more stories, although I have little idea of who I will pick up. I'm pretty sure I'd like to read some Lorrie Moore stories, but beyond that, time will tell. Thank you for doing this!

Becky said...

I definitely want to join this one. I've posted about the challenge here. I'll be aiming for five (or more) short story collections I think.

Grilsgood said...

I just happened to pick up 2 books of short storeis last year, now I have an escuse to read them.

Lynda said...

I'm in
http://lyndasbookblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/short-story-reading-challenge.html

Seachanges said...

Left a comment on the short story site also: I'm definitely in as the short story challenge is one I really loved and it encouraged me to buy many more short story collections than I would have done otherwise. In fact I was so excited that the first thing I did this morning was pick up Frank O'Connor's collection 'My Oedipus Complex' and read 'Jumbo's Wife'. Well, there's a good start. Then I've got some A.L. Kennedy, Ali Smith, and.... etc. I'm in, definitely.

J.C. Montgomery said...

Because of you, I read about twice as many Short Stories in 2009 than I did in 2008. I am hoping 2010 will be even better.

Through this endeavor I was introduced to Alice Munro, Flannery O'Connor, and several other writers I now seek out and add to my library.

Thank you!

SueFitz said...

Haven't read a lot of short stories, so will only be doing option 1/2

http://suefitz-readingchallenges.blogspot.com/2010/01/short-story-reading-challenge-for-2010.html

Wendy said...

Thanks for hosting this again! I've chosen option #5 and will be reading 5 collections by new-to-me authors in 2010.

Here is a link to my intro post with some suggestions for collections.

Iliana said...

Thank you so much for hosting this one again. Count me in!

Anonymous said...

I would love to join in on this challenge. I will stick with Option 1 and/or 2.

teakettle58atyahoodotcom

Journey said...

I'm in! Not being such a short story expert I'll go for Option #1. :-)

And here's my challenge post.

Karen said...

I would really like to join in this challenge. I was just thinking that short stories were the challenge missing from my long list of challenges. I have read a lot of short stories, so I will be choosing and committing to one of the experienced challenges shortly. Thanks for hosting!

Karen said...

I have a challenge post up on my blog now. It's:
http://ghhslibrary.psd401.net/?p=1050

Veens said...

I am in too! I hope it is not too late!
http://nidhiveens-loveforbooks.blogspot.com/2010/01/short-story-challenges.html

dreadfulpenny said...

Hope it's not too late to join! I'm excited about this challenge, since this is a genre I have trouble concentrating on. Count me in for five collections/anthologies!

Shaun-O'-Steel said...

I started reading a short story anthology at the beginning of the year, so I guess I was in without realising. But I'm officially in now. Just read Graham Greene's "Two Gentle People." Loved it.

http://trashbagbooks.blogspot.com

Bibliobabe said...

I posted a page with ALL current reading challenges. Let me know if you want me to add any other information about yours. I hope it brings even more readers to your challenge!
Reading Challenges.

Rachelle (Bibliobabe)

Grilsgood said...

This was my first experience with short stories other than Poe, but i have no blog so this is it

1. Montgomery, L. M. Christmas with Anne 14 stories
2. Burgess Thornton W. Old mother West Wind 16 Storeis
3. Hoffman, Alice Blackbird House