The Best American Series is an annually-published collection of books, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, each of which features a different genre or theme. Each book selects from works published in North America during the previous year, selected by a guest editor who is an established writer within the given field. This series, the original, should not be confused with more recent Best American series published by Harper Perennial and Palgrave Macmillan.
The Best American Short Stories has been in publication since 1915, making it the oldest continuous series of its type. Starting in 1986 additional titles were added covering the best in essays, sports writing, nature writing and more – all of which now fall under the general title of The Best American Series.
Each category has a continuing series editor, who makes an initial selection of notable works. The guest editor for that year then chooses a smaller number of pieces from the initial list. The pieces that do not make the final cut are often given honorable mention in an alphabetical list at the back of the book.
A work is eligible for the series if published in English (or published in another language, but translated into English by the author) in the United States, Canada, Mexico, or Greenland; if it first appeared, or was significantly revised, during the previous year; and if the author comes from or chiefly lives in North America. Internet publications are eligible if their audience includes North American readers.
Many editions are a mix of more-established authors (e.g., Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Chabon, Lorrie Moore) with up-and-coming writers who have achieved moderate success (e.g., Benjamin Percy, Kyle Minor, Ander Monson). Introductions to each book are written by the series editors, guest editors, and/or other celebrities (e.g., actor Viggo Mortensen for Nonrequired Reading, and UK cook Jamie Oliver for Recipes).
The volume title is the year the volume was published. The articles in the volume were published the prior year. So for example The Best American Essays 2000 contains articles published in 1999. The volumes are published in September or October of each year.
List of the series titles, oldest to newest by first issue.
- The Best American Short Stories (first issue: 1915)
- The Best American Essays (first issue: 1986)
- The Best American Mystery Stories (first issue: 1997)
- The Best American Science and Nature Writing (first issue: 2000)
- The Best American Travel Writing (first issue: 2000)
- The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy (first issue: 2015)
- The Best American Food Writing (first issue: 2018)
- The Best American Recipes (1999-2005)
- The Best American Spiritual Writing (2004-2008)
- The Best American Infographics (2013-2016)
- The Best American Nonrequired Reading (2002-2019)
- The Best American Comics (2006-2019)
- The Best American Sports Writing (1991-2020)