Last week I blogged on how to buy gifts for people who think they don’t love to get books for Christmas.
The corrective action suggested was not strapping them to a chair and brain-washing them in the manner of Clockwork Orange but ditching the idea of getting them a big book for Christmas. Some people simply don’t like reading novels; maybe they find it too time-consuming or they just prefer their text a bit punchier.
A collection of short stories can be the perfect gift for people who enjoy dipping into a book on their own terms . The short story and novella formats are too often overlooked when it comes to award time but they can be goldmines of sparking prose and ideas. When you only have 5,000 words to play with to write a story that will grab people, every one of those words has to count.
Not just that, many of short story collections has charitable goals as well literary ones. The Girls Night In series of anthologies, for example, have raised £1 million for the charities War Child and No Strings since 1999. They’ve just released a 10th Anniversary collection of favourite stories from the previous four compilations. With plenty of writers from Australia in there, this is a collection of some of the best chick lit of the last decade in bite sized chunks. Comedic and entertaining, and often through a wine-glass darkly, these stories showcase some truly wicked wit.
Not everyone is ready for such grown-up reading, though. Need a gift for someone who’s more interested in Lego than Manolos? They have also released a series of short stories for children called Kids Night In, which includes bedtime and holiday stories and as well as poems and illustrations. These books are great gifts for families of children as kids of all ages will find something in there to their taste.
If you are looking for something a bit more grown up, you’re in luck this year. Recent release The Pen and the Stethoscope is an amazing anthology written by doctors who are also very accomplished writers. Mixing fiction and non-fiction, it’s a touching and often amusing collection that gives a fascinating insight into the minds of people who deal with life and death decisions on a daily basis. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Starlight Foundation.
Another worthy cause with some serious literary weight is the much hyped “Ox-Tales“; a set of four books themed on one of the elements released by Oxfam to raise money and highlight the charity’s work in project areas: agriculture in Earth, water projects in Water, conflict aid in Fire, and climate change in Air. The name of the series may be a bit cheesy but the books themselves are beautifully presented and received a great deal of critical approval on their release. They include contributors such as Zoë Heller, John le Carré and Vikram Seth.
Short stories are ideal for people who like to read but not devour a whole book in one go. Short stories tend to be immediate, engaging; focusing on one incident, one plot, or just a few characters. If readers give these anthologies even the more cursory flick, I can guarantee they will find something that gets their attention. Just try to remember not to dip into them yourself before you wrap or you may find yourself too reluctant to part with them on Christmas day.