Anthologies for Pres(id)ents!

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An anthology is basically the perfect middle way of gifts. Halfway between a specific book (maybe they love this author and will love the book and haven't read it before! But also maybe not) and a gift card (you know they love Northshire and reading and books. You're just not exactly sure which ones).

Okay, you say, who the hell reads anthologies? A valid question, I admit. Probably the last time you read one was in a lit course in college/high school. I remember reacting the same way when my college boyfriend asked to have my Norton's Anthology of English Literature once my exams were finished. “Why would you want this dry archive of assigned reading?” I asked. Why indeed, would someone want a collection of so many classic pieces of literature from across the spectrum of time and authorship, just at their fingertips?

An anthology is basically a mix tape made of words. You remember the scene in As Good As It Gets when Jack Nicholson's character makes ten cassettes for various scenarios on his road trip? Think of anthologies like that, with little masking tape labels that say "For Aging," "For Getting Guys Into Poetry," "For Dealing With the State of the World." And the best part of anthologies is that, like a tape, you can skip songs. Don't like this essay/poem/author? You're not stuck with them for the rest of the book. But what if you LOVE this idea/genre/story/author? You've just discovered your new favorite thing, and there's probably a whole body of work out there beckoning. The beauty of anthologies is that there is something in there that your someone will like. Every time.

When you make a Spotify playlist (the modern mix tape) for someone, you're balancing what you think they'd like, what you want them to listen to, and how you want them to feel. Anthologies need the same line of thought. You can't just grab a book of floral poems for someone you've never talked plants with and expect the magic I claimed in the last paragraph. But if you know she's into sci-fi, if you know he's passionate about the gun debate; if they just came back from London or Beirut; if their heart was just broken and they question the existence of love - there exists a curation of the best words written by, about, and for them.

What if you can't find the perfect anthology? Well, you can always get a book. Or a gift card. Or socks. Everyone needs socks.

-Katelynne Shimkus

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