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Elizabeth Willse
September 19, 2019

The cover for Flying Lessons, edited by Ellen Oh, depicts a paper airplane with the words "Flying Lessons" written on the wings.Short stories are pretty terrific. If you’re short on sustained reading time and focus due to a hectic week, or promising yourself just a few pages before you turn out the lights, a short story can be just right. Short stories can be a great way to discover new authors. Nearly all the authors whose work is collected in these anthologies have full-length novels in our collection.

Sampling a story or two is a great way to reset your reading after reading a really big novel or nonfiction tome. Short stories are an excellent way to pull yourself out of a reading slump, where you can’t focus on getting into your next book. That’s how this list came about: I had been starting and setting aside something like six different books, before a short story anthology helped me get my reading groove back.

Flying Lessons, edited by Ellen Oh.

Ellen Oh is one of the founders of We Need Diverse Books, a website that helps provide resources to help promote authors and books exploring a diverse range of experiences. These stories by authors like Kwame Alexander, Jacqueline Woodson, Walter Dean Myers and so many more present a great variety, in terms of emotion and genre, as well as lived experiences. I grinned; I sighed deeply; I needed to watch kitten videos to help me recover from deep feelings. It was really, really great.

Fresh Ink, edited by Lamar Giles.

Another YA anthology edited by a founder of We Need Diverse Books. Authors include Jason Reynolds, Daniel Jose Older, Sarah Farizian, and many more favorite young adult novelists, as well as a few debut authors. And even in hardcover, it’s a slim enough volume to slip into a bag for a quick read on the go. But the stories are so good, I was torn between wanting to savor what I loved about each one, and zoom through the entire collection in one weekend.

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens, edited by Marieke Nijkamp

The range of genres in this volume spans intergalactic sci-fi, awkward first love, a creepy carnival and much more. Many of the writers featured in this anthology are bringing their own voice of experience to the multi-genre adventures of these teens who have disabilities. One of the strongest parts of this anthology is the way that characters’ disabilities are incidental to the story, a part of the character’s life, but interwoven deftly into stories driven by their compelling plots and good writing.

Toil and Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft, edited by Tess Sharpe

While all of these stories have an element of witchcraft in common, each author takes a unique approach to building magic into the tale. Some of the stories immerse their witchcraft in a fantasy world, while others infuse the modern world with a magical aspect. And, although all of the stories feature witchcraft, not all of them are creepy (though one or two are absolutely chilling!). Another great aspect of these collected tales is the fact that even the stories set in the past have a strong, feminist element.

A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers and Other Badass Girls, edited by Jessica Spotswood.

This collection of adventurous tales draws on historical inspiration to imagine young women defying the expectations of their time, and even pushing against the expectations and set social roles for women in our own time. Stories from authors like Beth Revis, Y.S. Lee, Kekla Magoon and more, draw on historical settings, and even some elements of magic and fantasy to tell these tales.

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