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Hayley

Reviewing / Logging Collected Works and Short Stories

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This question occurred to me recently and I wondered how you all felt about the subject. When you read a collection of short stories, or a collection of novels in one volume, do you review them individually, or as a set?

 

I have the first four Earthsea books in a single volume but, especially as I decided not to read them one after the other, I decided that I'd review them separately, and log them as separate books over on goodreads (because that's really the only way to review them separately there anyway). This seemed like a simple solution, it just means that I can't put the actual edition I'm reading on goodreads. 

 

As some of you may have noticed over on the read-a-thon thread, I've been reading a Penguin collection of classic short stories for a while. Today I started thinking about how I'm actually going to review that when I've finished. The stories themselves are wildly different, it has everyone from Charles Dickens to Virginia Woolf to Joseph Conrad. If I review it as a collection though, there's not much more to say than it was a good/bad selection of stories. I could do both types of review on my reading log here but I couldn't really separate them on goodreads, without it saying that I've read about fifteen books, rather than one...

 

I might be over thinking this but what do you all do? Would you review even short stories separately? Do you think even a collection of novels should be reviewed as one book? 

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I'd review novels separately but short stories I review more generally,  I might comment on one or two which I thought were  the best in the collection or the funniest, most original etc - I suppose if there are only a few stories in the collection I might review each one separately.

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I generally review short story collections as a whole (provided I read the whole book). For omnibusses, it depends on the situation. If I read the books close together, I'll probably do one review about them. But sometimes in the past I just read one of the books in the omnibus, and then I'd just review the one book. It's definitely a bit of a tricky situation!

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As an author, I'd appreciate the review being for the whole collection with perhaps a mention of some or all of the stories. It's feedback for authors - what do readers like? If one story gets more mentions than another it's a pointer for authors.

 

As a reader, I see your dilemma. I might choose a collection of short stories because I never have time to get stuck into a full length book. However, I think I'd wait until I'd read all of them - or most!

 

 

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Thanks for the replies! 

 

Reading through them, I've realised something - I actually feel differently about collections of short stories by the same author. I've never questioned, for example, if I should review all of the short stories from a Neil Gaiman collection separately. Like @Madeleine said, I'd just comment on which ones were my favourite. But when it's a mix of stories by different authors, it feels a bit more like you're reviewing the editor, and whether they made a good selection, not the writing quality... which is what I think felt a bit weird. 

I don't think it helps that some of the stories in my Penguin collection are quite substantial. Some, like The Heart of Darkness, could probably be considered novellas. So that makes it seem more odd not to talk about the individual story.

 

On 07/09/2019 at 6:13 AM, Athena said:

I generally review short story collections as a whole (provided I read the whole book). For omnibusses, it depends on the situation. If I read the books close together, I'll probably do one review about them. But sometimes in the past I just read one of the books in the omnibus, and then I'd just review the one book. It's definitely a bit of a tricky situation!

It is tricky isn't it! I think I would have reviewed the first four Earthsea books together if I'd read them all at once. 

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 Hayley, you bring up a good point about the editor's choice of stories if it is a pick and mix of different authors. It is worth mentioning that in passing when writing a review, I will try to remember that. I do like it when the editor writes a short note on each story and his/her mental connection to it (or the author)- that's always interesting.

I think it is permissible to write the review about the whole collection as it is, because after all another person who picks up that print edition will get exactly the same mixture. But as Madeleine observed, you could give more mention to the short stories that jumped out at you .

On the other hand, nothing wrong either with writing a separate review on a short story that really floated your boat ! I have never done that yet but I would.

Edited by vodkafan

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