Of all the many booklists YALSA puts out every year, Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (or PPYA) might be my favorite. It’s not that I don’t love the literary excellence recognized by the Printz or get excited by the new voices in YA literature lauded by the Morris. It’s just that PPYA is so useful. I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about YA literature. When awards season comes around, I’ve heard about and read many of the Best Fiction for Young Adultstitles and the Printz titles. Last year I managed to read all five Morris finalists before the winner was announced. PPYA, on the other hand, always brings something new to the table. Maybe it’s something that came out before I was a librarian. Maybe it’s something that slipped under my radar when it was first published. Either way, I can always count on PPYA when I want to find something new.
With my love of PPYA in mind, I decided to revisit an older list that I think could use some serious updating. One of the PPYA categories from 2000 is Short Takes. That list features 25 collections of short fiction and nonfiction that cover a huge range of topics–everything from horror to undergraduate life to prom night to multiculturalism. There are collections of stories by a single writer, like Chris Crutcher’s Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories, and anthologies containing the work of many authors, like Stay True: Short Stories for Girls. It’s a great list, but all of the titles on it were published between ten and twenty years ago. It’s time for an update! With the diversity of the original list in mind, I present to you fifteen short story collections, published in the last ten years, now available in paperback–PPYA Short Takes for a new decade!
- Brave New Love: 13 Tales of Dystopian Desire, edited by Paula Guran. YA literature is all about dystopia these days; this is a collection of dystopian romances by well-known and up-and-coming YA authors (including Kiera Cass, whose debut The Selection has already been picked up as TV show by the CW).
- Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong. If paranormal’s more your style, this anthology features 14 original stories from big name YA authors like Ally Condie (Matched), Claudia Grey (Everlast), Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures), and more.
- Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror, edited by R.L. Stine. As anyone who grew up reading his Goosebumps and Fear Street series can tell you, Stine’s a fixture in middle-grade and YA horror. In this 2010 collection, he pulls together a great bunch of authors, including superstar Meg Cabot, for thirteen spooky tales.
- First Crossing: Stories About Teen Immigrants, edited by Donald Gallo. This diverse anthology collects ten stories about teens from many different countries and backgrounds, including immigrants from Venezuela, Kazahkstan, and Translyvania. Some stories are funny, others more serious, but all of them deal with the tensions of living with one foot in a different culture.
- Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci (also a 2012 PPYA Top Ten pick!). The author list for this collection is a veritable who’s who of young adult literature: John Green, M.T. Anderson, Sara Zarr, Libba Bray, Barry Lyga, Cassandra Clare, and more. The nearly 30 stories and comics in the collection feature geeks of all kinds from gamers to drama club geeks to fan fiction writers, cosplayers, and more!
- Guys Write for Guys Read, edited by Jon Scieszka. Aimed at young teens, this collection is all about growing up as a guy, with essays, cartoons, short stories, and art work from 88 (yep, you read that right–88!) different authors and artists.
- I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets: Six Word Memoirs by Teens Famous and Obscure, edited by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser (a 2010 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers). Can you sum up your life in just six words? In this book, by turns funny, weird, silly, and poignant, 800 teens do just that.
- Let It Snow by Lauren Myracle, Maureen Johnson, and John Green. Three interconnected novellas about finding love on a single snowy night in a small town.
- Pretty Monsters: Stories by Kelly Link. Kelly Link has won awards for her adult fiction; this collection is her first aimed at young adults. She’s known for genre-bending fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, and this extremely well-reviewed collection (four starred reviews!) promises some of each.
- The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan (a 2005 Best Book for Young Adults). A series of linked poems explore the inner lives of twenty very different students at a single high school.
- Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up, edited by Steve Berman. Thirteen stories cover a range of sexualities and experiences. Each story is prefaced by an author’s introduction, many of which touch on the author’s own experiences as an LGBTQ teen.
- Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. In another collection featuring giants of a particular genre, Link and Grant pull together steam-powered stories from Garth Nix, Cassandra Clare, Cory Doctorow, and more.
- Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction: An Anthology of Japanese Teen Stories, edited by Holly Thompson. This collection of stories from and about Japanese teens was published a year after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country. Proceeds from sales benefit Japanese teens, but even without the philanthropic benefits, the collection, which offers a wide-ranging window into Japanese experience, is worth reading.
- War is…: Soldiers, Survivors and Storytellers Talk about War, edited by Marc Aronson and Patty Campbell. Marc Aronson thinks war is inevitable; his co-editor Patty Campbell thinks it’s morally wrong. Together they assembled this thought-provoking collection of stories, letters, and essays on the experience of war.
- Zombies vs. Unicorns, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier. A rift is threatening to tear the YA community apart: the question of zombies vs. unicorns. You’re either Team Zombie or Team Unicorn, and in this weird and wonderful collection, 12 stories from today’s biggest authors keep the debate going. Read them all before you decide: which team are you?
–Emily Calkins, currently reading The Returning by Christine Hinwood
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