My dad was a deep sea diver. Could go down for hours and not come up, if my mom would have let him. Granny was better at it, and there was nothing except the clock to tell her to come back up for air. I guess I take after them, cause my mom can't stand it. She has to live up here, in the real world, where things happen that are supposed to. But not me... give me the depths of my imagination, and I'm all set. Course, I have to get away from the electronic gadgets and visual whizbangs that constantly try to distract me. And they do, most of the time. I figured out that while I'm eating there's nothing else to distract me. Definitely the easiest time for a dip is while eating.
Of course I'm not talking about wearing scuba gear and playing with the sharks. A good reader never worries about saying anything without a layer or two of metaphors and imagery. I remember being in the middle of the Mines of Moria, reading (or rereading) Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, on the way to getting an outdoor pool (what a disaster that was... never get an above-ground pool), and being so thoroughly engrossed that it took me a good 20 minutes to get back to reality. It was like slowly coming up for air, because ascending too quickly will give you the bends.
My favorite author to stay "underwater" with is Orson Scott Card. I'd be reading, and reading, and reading, and then go to the kitchen for something to eat or drink, and while walking back to my bedroom, I would try and remember what amazing television show I was watching. Turns out, of course, it was the movie going on in my head from the OSC book laying on my bed, waiting for me to finish.
But those metaphors don't work when it comes to reading, especially for my dad. He read for escape, to immerse himself in a world and forget about this one for a while. Same thing for my grandmother, who read for hours at a time. And using this metaphor, that of going underwater, it's obvious why there were no short story collections in my dad's library. Imagine going scuba diving in the clear, tropical waters of the Caribbean, with fish and underwater treasures everywhere. A world so different from ours, magical, in a way. You could stay down there for hours, taking in everything under the waves. Now imagine that instead of scuba gear, all you had was the breath you could hold, for thirty seconds at a time. You couldn't follow a fish as it hides among the coral, or a small shark as it hunts for prey. Rather, you just get glimpses of wonderment, and then it's back to the surface to breathe again. Those are short stories to my dad. Short stories don't provide an extended look into a world, into the entire lives of characters.
So in between those long dives into tomes deep, dark, and enchanting, maybe just a short trip, in the shallows of the human imagination. Believe me, reading those stories will bring just as much magic as the 1000 page books that I go diving with each day.