One of my first encounters with science fiction literature was through the anthologies of science fiction short stories in school and public libraries. It was in these that I first encountered Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg, Andre Norton, James Blish, Ben Bova and others to name but a few. These anthologies then propelled me on to longer works by those authors, as well as works by Ursula Le Guin, Anne McCaffery, Robert Heinlein, Madeleine L’Engle, Brian Aldiss, Joe Haldeman, and more recently Alistair Reynolds, David Brin, Iain M. Banks, Neal Asher, Peter F. Hamilton, Liz Williams, Ann Leckie, Becky Chambers, Greg Egan and Charles Stross. (Flicking through my bookshelf and my library lending history I see many other names there too.)
One of the other places that these kinds of anthologies and other science fiction books turned up were in the Scholastic Book Clubs runs in conjunction with primary and intermediate schools (The “Lucky”, “Arrow” and other schemes). These were of variable quality – some I reread many times, others I read once and discarded. (I must have read Alan Dean Foster’s “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye” I don’t know how many times).
And now I’m back reading science fiction anthologies again. The Infinity Project, edited by Jonathan Strahan, is a series of anthologies where each volume is oriented around a particular theme: Bridging Infinity concerns stories about engineering on planetary and stellar scales, Meeting Infinity considers how technology might change humanity, while Infinity Wars has some deeply personal stories about how conflict in the future might affect us and our worlds.
The anthologies contain a mix of established science fiction authors (e.g. Ken Liu, Larry Niven, Alastair Reynolds, Bruce Sterling, Charles Stross & Stephen Baxter), as well as a range of newer voices. I’ve particularly enjoyed the Indian authors in some of the collections. If you’re looking to dip into some science fiction on a casual basis, then this collection of volumes is a good place to start.