Why read best of anthologies?

I came across this interesting quote:

“After many years – sometimes it feels like too many – of reading year’s best anthologies, I’ve come to the conclusion that they serve three different purposes for three different but overlapping audiences.

  • The first, and most obvious, is to provide a rich and entertaining variety of stories for the general literary reader; we might quibble over why a particular story was considered “best,” or why a favored story didn’t make it, but, given the considerable variety of talent at work these days, it would take a Trumpian level of incompetence to produce an annual that wasn’t, on the whole, pretty readable – and Strahan (a colleague on this magazine and our podcast) has the advantage of eclectic tastes, both stylistically and thematically.
  • The second purpose is that they provide a useful service for those of us who at least nominally try to keep up with the field, helping to identify trends, letting us know what old favorites are up to, perhaps more importantly, introducing us to newer writers who might emerge as major figures over the next few years.
  • The third purpose might be to serve as an introduction to the field for readers thinking it may be time to catch up on this sci-fi stuff, or as a reintroduction for those who may have drifted away years earlier. I have no idea what proportion of the market this latter group might represent (not a lot, I suspect), but an interested novice faced with a daunting bookstore section or Amazon algorithm full of widely varied and unfamiliar titles might reasonably expect that something called the Year’s Best is a good place to dive in.”

Locus, April 2018, “Locus looks at books: Gary K. Wolfe”. The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of The Year: Volume 12, Jonathan Strahan, ed. Bullets mine.

My primary reason for reading this kind of book is my wish to read quality. I guess that puts me in group 1. But I’m also trying to figure out, who my favorite authors are. That sounds more like group 2. Of course I’m not qualified to be in group 3. But back when I was a new reader, reprint anthologies were very important.

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