I think it goes without saying that you're going to get excellent stories in the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies, so I'm just going to ramble about my own favorites within the volume.
I read the first half of this book last year, and then diverted over to a long series of novels and other things, so I don't remember the details of many stories in the first half. One that I read last year was "Mr. Dark's Carnival," by Glen Hirshberg, and that stands out as one of the most chilling stories I've ever read, so I congratulate him on his memorable writing.
In the second half of the book, the selections that stood out for me were:
- "Jeremiah": Jack Cady
- "Buttons": Claudia Adriazola
- "The Artificial Cloud": Justin Tussing
- "No Story in It": Ramsey Campbell
- "The Pottawatomie Giant": Andy Duncan
- "Endless Summer": Stewart O'Nan
- "My Present Wife": Dennis Etchison
- "Bone Orchards": Paul J. McAuley
- "Instructions" (poem): Neil Gaiman
- "Hallowmass": Esther M. Friesner
I'm learning more about my reading preferences as I go along, and trying to see how they fit in (or don't) with my writing preferences. I've learned that I like literary horror, with more of a sense of dread than a drenching of blood. I love fantasy in contemporary settings, and prefer for any romance involved to be peripheral rather than central (although I'm sure I'll find exceptions); I also like to see the way religion can be woven into a story, whether it's a version of a religion that is actually practiced or it's a partially or completely invented religion. I like ghost stories a *lot*, whether they're horror, fantasy, or somewhere in between.
And I think I've just defined a lot of what I've been writing lately. I enjoy reading science fiction, too, but I haven't written a lot of it. The story I'm working on is a fun exception. :)