Saturday, December 29, 2007

Challenge Announcement

Those who are regular visitors to my blog (Kate's Book Blog) will have gathered that I’m a keen reader of short stories, so it will come as no surprise that the challenge I propose to host in 2008 is a Short Story Reading Challenge. The blogosphere abounds with reading challenges for the new year; I’ve already committed to rather a lot of them myself. But where challenges are concerned my attitude is unequivocally “the more the merrier.” I’ve never regretted signing up for one even when I didn’t finish it, so great is the pleasure of embarking on a reading journey in the company of congenial fellows, and so great the rewards of the encounters with new authors and books thereby provoked. And the beauty of short stories for the time-strapped reader is that they are, well, short. With that in mind, I offer up a variety of forms that the Short Story Reading Challenge could take 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 2008. 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 a simple as participating in the short story discussions at A Curious Singularity throughout the year. 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 2008. 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.

If you’re aiming to read individual short stories and you’re not sure where to begin, check out the list of “ten truly great short stories” that William Boyd appends to this article on the short story. I also recommend the fine list of ten favourites that the Literate Kitten compiled last spring. You can find it here, as well as some recommendations from her readers in the comments section below the post. You’ll also find some great suggestions by dropping by The Book Mine Set for “Short Story Mondays.” And you may also wish to have a look at the stories that have already been discussed at A Curious Singularity, a list of which can be found toward the bottom of the sidebar there. If you’re looking for recommendations of short story collections, I encourage you to check out the short review, an online review site with an exclusive focus on short story collections. There is also an excellent review section (and many other great short story related resources) at story, a UK site dedicated to celebrating the short story form. Finally, for recommendations of both individual stories and collections of stories, you’ll find this article in The Danforth Review to be an indispensable resource. In it, 27 writers provide their lists of what they would include if they were called upon to put together the curriculum for an introductory-level course on the short story. Of course, I’m also hoping that participants and fellow bloggers will provide further recommendations of their own favourites.

If you’d like to participate in the challenge, let me know in the comments section below or via e-mail, and if you provide me with an e-mail address, I'll send you an invitation to join this blog. 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.

For my own Short Story Reading Challenge, I plan to read ten short story collections by ten writers whose work I’ve not read before. I’m in the midst of compiling my list. But before I post it, I promise to post my own list of favourites from a lifetime of short story reading, so watch this space for that.

Happy Reading!


Heather said...

I'd love to do this one. I was already planning on trying to read more short stories next year anyway, so this is perfect. I alraedy posted what I hope to read.

My List

Thanks for the great challenge!

3M said...

I have my goals ready to go, and my list is here.

Thanks, Kate!

bookloversdiary said...

Hello, hello! Thank you for hosting this...this is perfect for my goal for 2008 to squeeze in some shorter works for fun alongside my academic reading.

I've posted my goals here.


Rhinoa said...

Yes I would love to sign up for this. I already have 7 short story collections bookmarked for next year which I hope is ok to cross over to this challenge as well. I will of course add a couple more that are unique to this challenge too. I think that puts me down for options 3&4 on your list and I will put up a listing of my choices today on my blog. I only really started reading short stories last year and I really enjoyed what I have read so far. My email should be on my blog profile I think, but if not let me know and I will email you.

Eva said...

This is a great challenge Kate! And perfect for me-I've been stockpiling short story collections like they're going out of style. :) My pool (it's a couple more than ten) is here:

Melody said...

I'm in, Kate!
Here's my list.

GeraniumCat said...

I'm already committed to reading for Short Story Monday for the next few months, as I'm trying to persuade myself that I can enjoy short stories. So perhaps I should go for Option 5, as I don't want to exclude writers I've already read, and I don't want to commit to reading whole collections. I am trying to read stories that represent the best of the genre, interspersed with a selection from the anthologies I already have. On my TBR list are stories by Chekhov, Lovecraft, Alice Munro, Jacques Ferron and I'll be checking out the some of the sites suggested here as well. I'll publish a list on my blog. My email is geraniumcat AT gmail DOT com.

Eva said...

Hi Kate! I'd like an e-mail is adifferentopera AT gmail DOT com

Merc said...

Hi Kate,
what a great idea. I'd like to join up. I've just bought The Best Australian Stories 2007 edited by Robert Drewe and published by BlackInc, so my goal is to read the 47 stories in the book. Who knows what I'll take on after that.

mariel said...

Hi Kate, finally got round to posting up my list!

Looking forward to it!

The Holistic Knitter said...

Hi Kate
please add me to this challenge

Maggie said...

I'd like to play! :D

Fay Sheco said...

This is a late posting, but I'm looking forward to participating. Here's my reading list.