27 December 2010

Purpose

What is the purpose of a book exactly? Does it exist for enjoyment? For escapism? For learning? Does the answer to this question depend on the book's genre?

I recently (yesterday) finished reading His for the Holidays (anthology)...and I loved it! But reading it got me to thinking about the purpose of an anthology. For example, by the end of Mistletoe at Midnight (LB Gregg) I was asking myself why I hadn't read any of LB Gregg's books before now! And I own one! I honestly didn't want the novella to end, and almost felt...peeved that it did and that I had to read something else. But, finishing Mistletoe at Midnight lead me to Harper Fox's Nine Lights over Edinburgh, which ended up being my favourite of all the novellas. This was the novella that lingered (that still lingers)...had me asking questions...and wanting more. The characters (James and Tobias) were wounded and flawed, two character traits that I love. Their journey was not short or easy...and they still have so far to go. Even now, I still can't see the novella ending where it did. Yes, the ending worked, but *stamps feet* I want...more! Doesn't everyone? *grin*

And then I was struck by the 'why' of anthologies. Their purpose is to introduce readers to unknown authors...or to authors they know but are hesitant to try. Yes, sometimes these novellas are part of a series (am thinking of Burning Up, which contained a Psy-Changeling novella by Nalini Singh) but...anthologies are like a taste test. I'm not sure if this happens where you live, but here, if a company wants to introduce a customer to a product (I'm thinking of a food product), they set up a stall in a supermarket and permit the customer to try the product. And that's what anthologies are in a way. Well, not quite as you purchase anthologies *watches analogy fall apart* but they permit the reader to discover an author they wouldn't have otherwise tried. So will I be reading more stories by Harper Fox? Definitely!

So, what do you think the purpose of an anthology is?

10 comments:

  1. I think that's the main purpose! In fact, I think TQ had a line of short anthologies that they called Taste Tests. :)

    Personally, I think that releasing an anthology as a set of shorts works better for ereaders. I'm thinking of the TQ Healing Hearts Charity Sips, which, if you bought the entire thing, arrived as a single anthology - not very easy to deal with on an ereader, esp because my ereader needed to be seriously reset and lost some bookmarks... Compare that to the DSP Advent Calendar, which is roughly the same sort of thing, but the stories arrive individually. Much easier to deal with, and I've been reading the stories nearly as fast as they arrive... vs the TQ collection, which I finished (as much as I'm going to finish) three months after starting it.

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  2. Chris - I didn't know about the Taste Tests! LOL! And if there were a lot of 'sips' in an anthology I can see how buying them individually would be easier to manage. Plus...that's usually why I don't buy anthologies as I'm scared of getting something I don't want to read. Oh, and one of my friends wrote a story for the Healing Hearts Charity Sips :)

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  3. ...which you've read I see from your latest GoodReads update :)

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  4. Orannia, I'm SO glad you enjoyed His for the Holidays. Particularly Harper Fox's story. It was also my favorite and the one that really glued the whole thing for me, although the other stories were wonderful as well. :)

    RE: Your question about anthologies. I read a LOT of them. And for me, it depends on the anthology. Some of them ARE taste tests where "new" stories are introduced and I do read them to "discover" those new-to-me authors. Others are more "collections" of works by single authors, and I read those to deepen my knowledge of a particular author's work. And yet others give an insight into particular series by providing a prequel or giving that secondary character an in-depth look.

    It's true that sometimes you don't get what you want in them. But by taking a chance on anthologies, I've "discovered" quite a few of my favorite writers. :) Meljean Brook is a good example and now I'll be looking at Harper Fox! *g*

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  5. I think anthologies are definitely set up for "taste tests" or epilogues. A lot of times it is a short story showing more of the lives of previous characters. (not His of the Holidays though).

    I love this anth! And yes - Harper Fox is a great writer. She writes such damaged heroes...

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  6. The Meredith Shayne story maybe?? I liked that one quite a bit. :)

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  7. Hilcia - great insight, thank you! I'd forgotten about collections from single authors - I'm hanging out for just such a collection from Lynn Flewelling. And it's so nice to find someone who loved Nine Lights over Edinburgh as much as I did :)

    Mandi - I love this anthology too. Am am now so looking forward to reading more of Harper Fox's books!

    Chris - yes! *grin*

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  8. I hardly ever read anthologies. I agree that they're set up as taste tests, but for some reason I've always preferred to just read a whole book.

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  9. I'm with the crowd on this - definitely a tasting experience. But sometimes I just want a shorter story. I want it to be fast and heady - as the ones in His for the Holidays were. Great stories that were put together so well you couldn't get enough...but yet, were satisfied by what you got. IDK - I'm a fan of shorts and anthologies so I may not be the best person to comment. lol

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  10. heidenkind - I think the taste test approach is why I've never really bought anthologies. I do borrow them from the library though :) And after reading Harper Fox's Nine Lights over Edinburgh I really want the full novel!

    Tracy - :) And great point! Sometimes novellas are...just want you want. Nothing big and cumbersome :)

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