Linda Peterson (General Editor)John Brereton (Editor)

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The Norton Reader

An Anthology of Nonfiction


    Personal Report

    Chang-Rae Lee, Coming Home Again

    Joan Didion, On Going Home

    Andrea Barrett,  A Hole in the Wall

    Lars Eighner, On Dumpster Diving

    Maya Angelou, Graduation

    Richard Selzer, The Knife

    Nancy Mairs, On Being a Cripple

    Alice Walker, Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self

    E. B. White, Once More to the Lake

    Prose Forms: Journals

    People, Places

    Scott Russell Sanders, Under the Influence

    Annie Dillard, from An American Childhood

    Toni Morrison, Strangers

    Jamaica Kincaid, Sowers and Reapers

    Judith Ortiz Cofer, More Room

    N. Scott Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain

    Margaret Atwood, True North

    David Guterson, Enclosed. Encyclopedic. Endured: The Mall of America

    Human Nature

    Scott Russell Sanders, Looking at Women

    Andrew Sullivan, What Is a Homosexual?

    Anna Quindlen, Between the Sexes, a Great Divide

    Lauren Slater, Love

    E. S. Maduro, Excuse Me While I Explode: My Mother, Myself, My Anger

    Amy Cunningham, Why Women Smile

    Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, On the Fear of Death

    Mary Roach, How to Know If You’re Dead

    Cultural Critique

    Anthony Burgess, Is America Falling Apart?

    Jessica Mitford, Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain

    Nicholas D. Kristof, Saudis in Bikinis

    Fred Strebeigh, The Wheels of Freedom: Bicycles in China

    John McMurty, Kill ‘Em! Crush ‘Em! Eat ‘Em Raw!

    Bill McKibben, The Case for Single-Child Families

    Brent Staples, Black Men and Public Space

    Debra Dickerson, Who Shot Johnny?

    Prose Forms: Op-Eds

    Molly Ivins, Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of Guns

    Brent Staples, Why Colleges Shower Their Students with A’s

    David Brooks, The Gender Gap at School

    Jennifer Britz, The Dean’s Daughter Gets Thin Envelope


    Frederick Douglass, Learning to Read

    John Holt, How Teachers Make Children Hate Reading

    Caroline Bird, College Is a Waste of Time and Money

    William Zinsser, College Pressures

    Adrienne Rich, Taking Women Students Seriously

    William Golding, Thinking as a Hobby

    Language and Communication

    Gloria Naylor, “Mommy, What Does ‘Nigger’ Mean?”

    Maxine Hong Kingston, Tongue-Tied

    Richard Rodriguez, Aria

    Gloria Anzaldúa, How to Tame a Wild Tongue

    Marjorie Agosin, Always Living in Spanish

    Garrison Keillor, How to Write a Letter and Postcards

    Ben Franklin, Learning to Write

    Patricia Williams, The Death of the Profane: The Rhetoric of Race and Rights

    Anne Fadiman, The His’er Problem

    Lewis Thomas, Notes on Punctuation

    George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

    An Album of Styles

    Francis Bacon, Of Youth and Age

    John Donne, No Man Is an Island

    Samuel Johnson, The Pyramids

    Mary Wollstonecraft, from A Vindication of the Rights of Women

    John Henry Newman, Knowledge and Virtue

    Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address

    Ernest Hemingway, from A Farewell to Arms

    Terry Tempest Williams, River Music

    Nature and the Environment

    Rachel Carson, Tides

    John Muir, A Wind-Storm in the Forests

    Edward Abbey, The Serpents of Paradise

    Alexander Petrunkevitch, The Spider and the Wasp

    Chief Seattle, Letter to President Pierce, 1855

    Aldo Leopold, Marshland Elegy

    Terry Tempest Williams, The Clan of One-Breasted Women


    Mark Twain, Advice to Youth

    Jonathan Rauch, In Defense of Prejudice

    Michael Levin, The Case for Torture

    Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights

    Michael Pollan, An Animal’s Place

    Aldo Leopold, The Land Ethic

    Mary Gordon, A Moral Choice

    Sallie Tisdale, We Do Abortions Here: A Nurse’s Story

    Paul Fussell, Thank God for the Atom Bomb


    Henry David Thoreau, The Battle of the Ants

    Barbara Tuchman, “This Is the End of the World”: The Black Death

    Philip Alcabes, The Bioterrorism Scare: A Historical Perspective

    Walt Whitman, Death of Abraham Lincoln

    Hannah Arendt, Deportations from Western Europe

    World War II: Victims, Villains, Heroes

    1. Matt Bai, He Said No to Internment
    2. Sara Corbett, Saved by Strangers
    3. Daniel Bergner, Chasing Evil

    Politics and Government

    George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant

    Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal

    Niccolò Machiavelli, The Morals of the Prince

    Thomas Jefferson and Others, The Declaration of Independence

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions

    Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address

    John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address

    E. B. White, Democracy

    Lani Guinier, Tyranny of the Majority

    Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

    Prose Forms: Spoken Words

    Al Gore, The Climate Emergency

    William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Award Speech

    Science and Technology

    Jacob Bronowski, The Nature of Scientific Reasoning

    Isaac Asimov, The Eureka Phenomenon

    David Baltimore, Limiting Science: A Biologist’s Perspective

    Henry Wechsler, Andrea Davenport, George Dowdall, Barbara Moeykens, and Sonia Castillo, Health and Behavioral Consequences of Binge Drinking in College: A National Survey of Students at 140 Campuses

    Neil Postman, Virtual Students, Digital Classroom

    Edward O. Wilson, Intelligent Evolution

    Stephen Jay Gould, Darwin’s Middle Road

    Literature, the Arts, and Media

    Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings

    Vladimir Nabokov, Good Readers and Good Writers

    Katha Pollitt, Does a Literary Canon Matter?

    Virginia Woolf, In Search of a Room of One’s Own

    John Updike, Moving Along

    Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics

    Susan Sontag, A Century of Cinema

    Anthony Lane, The Sound of Music

    Aaron Copland, How We Listen

    Prose Forms: Fables and Parables

    Plato, The Allegory of the Cave

    Jesus, Parables of the Kingdom

    Zen Parables

    Philosophy and Religion

    Langston Hughes, Salvation

    Andre Aciman, In a Double Exile

    Henry David Thoreau, Where I Lived, and What I Lived For

    Virginia Woolf, The Death of the Moth

    Annie Dillard, Sight into Insight

    Gilbert Highet, The Mystery of Zen

    Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism

    Genres index

    Rhetorical index

    Thematic index