The first pay day of the year has rolled round and with it the first amazon order (dispatched and can't wait for it's arrival) I'm particularly excited by a collection of short stories put together by Michael Simms. Simms is responsible for 'The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime' which all but doubled my wish list. 'Dracula's Guest' has (amongst others) vampire stories by Mary Cholmondeley and Mary Elizabeth Braddon - that's why I've bought it, the rest is all bonus.
Everyman's collection 'Bedtime Stories' was another holiday read and is a thing of beauty, it's not just the charming dust jacket but the turquoise cloth cover, the matching ribbon, the little bit of contrasting purple stitching at the top of the binding, and that the pages are stitched not glued - it's a very nice package. The link with 'Dracula's Guest' is that for bedtime the stories are of a generally dark often ghostly nature. Nothing to terrifying - not so as they would keep you awake, but enough to make you glad to be tucked up in bed (possibly with a hot water bottle and a hot chocolate) with good lighting at your fingertips.
Some of these I've read before - there's an A. S. Byatt and an Angela Carter both of which I've got in other collections but am happy to read again, the rest of the collection is to diverse to pin down without listing them all (which would be dull for me to do). Short story collections are my answer to e-readers; I never really understand why they aren't more popular, a well crafted short story is a wonderful thing - a beginning middle and end in as little as a couple of pages. I love the economy and completeness of a good short story (but get unreasonably irked by ones that feel like they still have more to say).
Collections like this particularly appeal to me a - the mix of things I want to read and which it would never have occurred to me to have a look at, it leads to all sorts of discoveries alongside the comfortable knowledge that there are likely favourites in there. I've read about half of 'Bedtime Stories' so far and may not pick it up again for months, or maybe I'll take it to bed with me in a minute and try to choose something that won't scare me silly, but it earned it's cover price with an Isak Dinesen short 'The Sailor Boy's Tale'. The sailor boy rescues a falcon from the rigging of his boat and later when he kills a man on his way to meet a girl the falcon reappears to help him in the form of an old Lap woman. It's a very effective fairy tale from a writer I normally have no interest in - 'Out of Africa' is one of those books I've failed to read (tried it perhaps to young, haven't ruled out giving it another go) and I had no idea that she'd written so many other things including a couple of collections of short stories. Guess what's gone on my wish list now...