The best themed anthologies

Why am I passionate about this?

The anthology form unites diverse voices around a common theme—in the case of Distant Flickers, identity and loss. The stories in the anthology explore intense personal relationships—of mother and child, old lovers, etc. Some of the stories are in the moment and some recounted with the perspective of time, some are fable-like, some formal, and others more colloquial. Reading them the reader is struck by the variety of approaches a writer might take to a subject. The device of the contributor’s notes enables the reader to see the story behind the story and how life informs art—life furnishing the raw material or day residue of the story.  


I wrote...

Book cover of Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity & Loss

What is my book about?

The emotive stories in Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity and Loss take readers to the streets of New York and San Francisco, to warm east coast beaches, rural Idaho, and Italy, from the early 1900s, through the 1970s, and into present day. A down-on-his-luck cook who stumbles on goodness. A young mother who hides $10 she received from a stranger. The boy who collects secrets. A young woman stuck between youth and adulthood. Children who can’t understand why their mother disappears.

The distinct and varied characters in Distant Flickers stand at a juncture. The loss of a spouse, a parent, a child, one’s self. Whether they arrived at this place through self-reflection, unexpected change, or new revelations—each one has a choice to make. 

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers

Carol LaHines Why did I love this book?

Sheila Kohler, a mentor of mine whose work is featured in this thrilling collection, is fond of saying that suspense arises from putting a vulnerable character in a dangerous situation. A literary writer of the highest caliber, Sheila knows how to generate the suspense that keeps the page turning. Crime fiction has a long history going back to Dostoevsky and beyond, to the great tragedians—the commission of a crime entails motive, means, and is inherently dramatic. This eclectic selection of mystery and female noir, edited by Joyce Carol Oates, features superstar writers like Edwidge Danticat, Margaret Atwood, Sheila Kohler, Elizabeth McCracken, and Joyce Carol Oates herself. The writing is luminous, the themes are varied—from domestic horror to the erotic to dark fairy tales—and the tales keep the reader turning the page.

By Joyce Carol Oates (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cutting Edge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A chilling noir collection featuring fifteen crime and mystery tales and six poems from female authors.

Joyce Carol Oates, a queen-pin of the noir genre, has brought her keen and discerning eye to the curation of an outstanding anthology of brand-new top-shelf short stories (and poems by Margaret Atwood!). While bad men are not always the victims in these tales, they get their due often enough to satisfy readers who are sick and tired of the gendered status quo, or who just want to have a little bit of fun at the expense of a crumbling patriarchal society. This stylistically…


Book cover of Unlocked: A Paper Lantern Writers Anthology

Carol LaHines Why did I love this book?

When the authors in Distant Flickers formed Telltale, a writers’ collective, we brainstormed ways to reach out to readers and give them insight as to how our life experiences are transformed into art. We decided to put together an anthology as part of our endeavor. In doing so, we researched how other writer collectives reached out to their readership. A number of us are historical fiction writers and/or members of the Womens Fiction Writers Association (WFWA), which is how we came to be acquainted with Paper Lanterns, the collective of historical fiction writers behind this anthology. The stories in Unlocked are works of historical fiction that revolve around the common element of an old wooden chest. The settings are varied and span seven centuries, from 1225 Ireland to 1679 Amsterdam to the American Civil War to Regency London to World War II to the Nineteen Seventies.

By Linda Ulleseit, Paper Lantern Writers, Edie Cay , Ana Brazil , Mari Anne Christie , Rebecca D'Harlingue , Anne M. Beggs , Kathryn Pritchett , C.V. Lee

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unlocked as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In much the same manner as Pandora, each Paper Lantern Writer takes a turn opening an old wooden chest, digging out stories spanning seven centuries. The individuals in these tales—heroes, villains, and in between—are more than people from the past. Whether they are making mayhem, waging war, or quietly holding their families together, their strength and fortitude shines on the page. From the Swinging Seventies to the Middle Ages, these characters gather, keep, and spill the secrets of their souls.

Who knows what treasures will be found when this ancient trunk is finally Unlocked?

The Happy Heart: A groovy, tarot-soaked…


Book cover of Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees

Carol LaHines Why did I love this book?

The prevailing narrative regarding adoption, at least in the U.S., is crafted by adoption professionals and adoptive parents and largely overlooks the experiences of the parties directly impacted—the adoptees themselves. As an adoptee—one who undertook a search for and was reunited with my first family, reassuming the name I was given at birth—I am always on the lookout for the work of other adoptees. Only we truly understand what it is like to be “split” between two families, to lose our roots and culture, and—perhaps most devastating—not to have our losses acknowledged. These stories, by Ethiopian adoptees, challenge traditional narratives that cast adoption as a benevolent practice, revealing the racist, classist, and colonialist roots that give rise to the modern institution. The stories speak to themes of displacement, bewilderment, and what it is like to grow up estranged from one’s culture, identity, and roots.

By Aselefech Evans (editor), Kassaye Berhanu-MacDonald (editor), Maureen McCauley (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lions Roaring Far From Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lions Roaring Far From Home: An Anthology by Ethiopian Adoptees includes the essays and poems of 33 writers, ages 8 to over 50, raised in six countries (the US, Canada, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, and Australia). It is the first ever anthology by Ethiopian adoptees.

This anthology shares Ethiopian adoptees’ wide range of experiences, from childhood into adulthood, through the voices of the adoptees themselves. There is more than one mention of grief, confusion, and loss. The writers also talk about their strengths, hopes, happiness, and love for family. Along with sadness and anger, there is also compassion, grace, and…


Book cover of Fire & Water: Stories from the Anthropocene

Carol LaHines Why did I love this book?

Before becoming a published writer, I was a lawyer litigating primarily large, multi-district environmental insurance coverage cases. I became familiar with the many ways by which we damage our precious natural resources, be it groundwater or soil or the air we breathe. Beginning with Rachel Carson, we have rich literature that speaks to the degradation of the planet, including the devastating changes wrought by global warming. The stories in this anthology speak to the physical and emotional topography of our current climate crisis, from a Sami woman who studies fish populations to a Wisconsin man contemplating the animals who make his trailer a portal to a world unsullied by humans. Fish & Water is a smart collection on a topic we ignore at our peril.

By Mary Fifield (editor), Kristin Thiel (editor),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Fire & Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fiction. A Sámi woman studying Alaska fish populations sees our past and future through their present signs of stress and her ancestral knowledge. A teenager faces a permanent drought in Australia and her own sexual desire. An unemployed man in Wisconsin marvels as a motley parade of animals makes his trailer their portal to a world untrammeled by humans. Featuring short fiction from authors around the globe; FIRE & WATER: STORIES FROM THE ANTHROPOCENE takes readers on a rare journey through the physical and emotional landscape of the climate crisis--not in the future; but today. By turns frightening; confusing; and…


Book cover of NDA: An Autofiction Anthology

Carol LaHines Why did I love this book?

As a writer, I am always pondering the question of how our lives inform our work. As one of my fellow writers, Melissa Ostrom, put it, our experience is the rich compost from which we form our fictional narratives. To use a Freudian dream analogy, I like to think that our lives are the “day residue” of the work—elements from daily life show up in different contexts or transformed in some other way. The twentieth-first century has witnessed an explosion of so-called auto-fiction, fiction that more consciously underscores this process of transforming life into art—think of the work of Ben Lerner, Rachel Cusk, and Karl Ove Knausgard. This recently-released anthology, edited by Caitlin Forst, features work by established writers as well as new voices that interrogates the relationship between writer and text, between art and life.

By Caitlin Forst,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked NDA as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An exciting new anthology of autofiction featuring a wide range of today's best writers, both established and up-and-coming.

Collected autofictions from mainstays of literary, art, and internet avant-garde writing. The contributors in this anthology produce a contemporary, subversive primer of works engaging the relationship between the writer and the text.

Featuring:
Aiden Arata
Nathan Dragon
David Fishkind
Rindon Johnson
Aristilde Kirby
Tao Lin
Chris Molnar
Vi Khi Nao
Elle Nash
Gina Nutt
Brad Phillips
Sam Pink
Darina Sikmashvili
BR Yeager


You might also like...

A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

By Victoria Golden, William Walters,

Book cover of A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

Victoria Golden Author Of A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Story teller Book fav swapper Movie buff A writer’s daughter Escapee from Beverly Hills

Victoria's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Four years old and homeless, William Walters boarded one of the last American Orphan Trains in 1930 and embarked on an astonishing quest through nine decades of U.S. and world history.

For 75 years, the Orphan Trains had transported 250,000 children from the streets and orphanages of the East Coast into homes in the emerging West, sometimes providing loving new families, other times delivering kids into nightmares. Taken by a cruel New Mexico couple, William faced a terrible trial, but his strength and resilience carried him forward into unforgettable adventures.

Whether escaping his abusers, jumping freights as a preteen during the Great Depression, or infiltrating Japanese-held islands as a teenage Marine during WWII, William’s unique path paralleled the tumult of the twentieth century—and personified the American dream.

A Last Survivor of the Orphan Trains: A Memoir

By Victoria Golden, William Walters,

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARDS

WINNER, DA VINCI EYE AWARD FOR COVER DESIGN, ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARDS

HONORABLE MENTION, ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARDS, E-BOOK NONFICTION

FINALIST, NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS, E-BOOK NONFICTION

FINALIST, NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS, MEMOIRS (Overcoming Adversity)

HONORABLE MENTION, READERS' FAVORITE BOOK AWARDS, GENERAL NONFICTION

From 1854 to the early 1930s, the American Orphan Trains transported 250,000 children from the streets and orphanages of the East Coast into homes in the emerging West. Unfortunately, families waiting for the trains weren’t always dreams come true—many times they were nightmares.

William Walters was little more than a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Ethiopia, nthropocene, and Alfred Hitchcock?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Ethiopia, nthropocene, and Alfred Hitchcock.

Ethiopia Explore 44 books about Ethiopia
Nthropocene Explore 19 books about nthropocene
Alfred Hitchcock Explore 28 books about Alfred Hitchcock