Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on August 18th 2015
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I’ve always been someone who opens a book to page one and reads straight through to the end, which…seems like the logical way to do things. But when it comes to collections of essays and short stories, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it may not always be the best way. I’ve been resistant to the idea of jumping around, but gave it a shot with two recent reads and wound up pleasantly surprised.
Though my background knowledge of C.S. Lewis extended just past my reading of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I was drawn to C.S. Lewis & His Circle, which seemed to condense the man’s life and ideas in a manageable volume. Because my background on Lewis was so limited, I skipped the essays at the beginning of the book and went straight to the memoirs, which give an overview based on letters, diaries, writing from Lewis’s family and other members of The Inklings. With that foundation, I then went back to the essays, to read about the relationship between philosophy and theology on various topics, as well as a few literature highlights. Though they were quite dense for a single read, I think the essays will be good to come back to and would be perfect for someone already more familiar with Lewis and The Inklings.
When I opened Sea Lovers, there was an introduction from Valerie Martin, which explained that the collection’s stories were organized chronologically and gathered into sections based on themes she found in the way her writing evolved over time. Though I still wanted to see that distinct change in her writing, I thought it might be interesting to see it a little more quickly. So, instead of reading Sea Lovers straight through, I read one story from each section in order. I think this ended up being wise, as the stories in the beginning were well written, but not quite as strange or quirky as I tend to enjoy. Later, the writing blossomed and more odd elements were added, so I was glad to see that promise early on.
Do you ever read essay or short story collections out of order? Do you think it has made for more enjoyable reading experiences?