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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $52.00
  • December 2011
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-91268-5
  • 800 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Back to the Lake

A Reader for Writers

Second Edition


Thomas Cooley (Editor, Ohio State University)


A fresh take on the traditional modes, showing how they are used in texts of all kinds, and that they are central to all the writing, speaking, and thinking that we do.

The Second Edition contains 34 new readings that teachers will want to teach and students will like to read, from Steven Pinker’s “Mind Over Mass Media” to Alex Horton’s “Advice for College-bound Vets,” as well as a chapter on academic writing, and editorial apparatus that explicitly links the readings to the writing instruction, with notes in the margins leading students from the text to specific examples in the readings—and the reverse.


An engaging—and fresh—collection of readings

The Second Edition contains more than 85 readings—34 new, 20 appearing in a composition reader for the first time. From the classic (“Once More to the Lake”) to essays appearing in a composition reader for the first time (Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History,” Lynda Barry’s “Sanctuary of School”)—each reading demonstrates that the patterns taught in this book are ones that all good writers depend on. Each chapter includes an everyday example, an annotated student piece, and one literary work.

Well-written pedagogy

This book practices what it preaches about good writing, with pedagogy that makes the subject matter interesting, relevant, and easy to understand. Each chapter begins by introducing a particular mode of writing—comparison, description, and so on—and showing students how to use it in their own writing, then continues by using everyday, relevant examples to make the material engaging for students. Templates help students get started writing, and grammar guidelines help students check their writing for errors typical to each mode. Examples are shown with track changes, to help students find and edit common errors in their own writing.

New navigation features make the book easy to use

Marginal notes explicitly link the writing instruction with the readings, leading students from the instruction to specific examples in the readings, and the reverse. The book is color-coded, with all the writing guidance on green pages to make them easy to access. A combined glossary / index makes definitions and other information students look for repeatedly easy to find. A menu of readings appears on the inside back cover.

New coverage of academic writing

The Second Edition features a new chapter devoted to academic argument that includes templates to help students advance their thesis and explain why their ideas matter. Five of the 15 student essays are documented using MLA or APA style. A suggested MLA-style citation accompanies each of the readings, showing students how to cite them properly.

Help for students whose primary language is not English

The Second Edition contains glosses for unfamiliar terms and allusions, templates for getting started, and tips for dealing with predictable stumbling points with each mode—adjective order in description, for example, or the use of the present perfect in narrative writing.

    * new to the 2e
    ►student writing

    Chapter 1: Good Writers Are Good Readers

    Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life

    Chapter 2: The Writing Process

    ► Zoe Shewer, Ready, Willing, and Able [annotated]

    *Chapter 3: Putting in Your Oar: Learning the Basic Moves of Academic Writing

    *► Carolyn Stonehill, It's in Our Genes [annotated]

    Chapter 4: Narration

    Everyday Narration / A Vanity License Plate

    ► Jeff Gremmels, The Clinic [annotated]
    *Lynda Barry, The Sanctuary of School
    Annie Dillard, An American Childhood
    *Phil Holland, Render Unto Larry's
    Saira Shah, Longing to Belong
    *Anne Bernays, Warrior Day
    Toni Morrison, Strangers
    Richard Russo, Dog

    Chapter 5: Description

    Everyday Description / A Nike Sneaker
    *► Jim Miller, The Natural Order in a Small Town [annotated]
    *Zainab Salbi, Little House in the War Zone
    *John Branch, Perfection in the Horseshoe Pit
    Judith Ortiz Cofer, More Room
    Zora Neale Hurston, How It Feels to Be Colored Me
    E.B. White, Once More to the Lake
    *Rita Dove, American Smooth

    Chapter 6: Example

    *Everyday Example / A T-Shirt
    ► Monica Wunderlich, My Technologically Challenged Life [annotated]
    The Onion, All Seven Deadly Sins Committed at Church Bake Sale
    David Barboza, Piling on the Cookies
    Michael Dirda, Commencement Advice
    *Joanna Weiss, Happy Meals and Old Spice Guy
    *Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History
    Adrienne Rich, Ritual Acts vi

    Chapter 7: Process Analysis

    *Everyday Process / How to Dance Like Fred and Ginger
    *► Debra Houchins, Nesquik and Nilla Wafers: Tiramisu on a Student Budget [annotated]
    Joshua Piven, David Borgenicht, and Jennifer Worick, How to Pull an All-Nighter
    Dave Barry, I Will Survive . . . Or at Least I'll Be Delayed
    *► Alex Horton, On Getting By: Advice for College-Bound Vets
    Robert Connors, How in the World Do You Get a Skunk Out of a Bottle?
    *Michael C. Munger, Ten Tips on Making Writing Work for You
    Emily Dickinson, The Way I read a Letter's - this -

    Chapter 8: Comparison and Contrast

    *Everyday Comparison /A Souvenir Coffee Mug
    ► Jamie Gullen, The Danish Way of Life [annotated]
    Gitangeli Sapra, I'm Happy with an Arranged Marriage
    *Roger Cohen, The Meaning of Life
    David Sedaris, Remembering My Childhood on the Continent of Africa
    *Nicholas D. Kristof, Food for the Soul
    Bruce Catton, Grant and Lee
    William Shakespeare, Sonnet 130

    Chapter 9: Classification

    *Everyday Classification / The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
    ► Michelle Watson, Shades of Character [annotated]
    Stephanie Ericsson, The Ways We Lie
    Amy Tan, Mother Tongue
    David Brooks, People Like Us
    *Erin McKean, Verbed! Not Every Noun Wants to Stay That Way
    Deborah Tannen, But What Do You Mean?
    *Anne Sexton, Her Kind

    Chapter 10: Definition

    Everyday Definition / An Epitaph
    ► Gail Babilonia, The Celebrity Chef [annotated]
    Mary Roach, How to Know If You're Dead
    Fatima Mernissi, The Harem Within
    *Jack Horner, Thinking Outside the Box: The Extraordinary Characteristics of Dyslexia
    *Bobbie Ann Mason, Being Country
    Geoffrey Nunberg, The War of Words
    Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man Is Hard to Find

    Chapter 11: Cause and Effect

    Everyday Cause and Effect / A Rube Goldberg Pencil Sharpener
    ► Paula T. Kelso, Behind the Curtain [annotated]
    Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Way to Reduce Black Poverty in America
    Henry L. Roediger III, Why Are Textbooks So Expensive?
    *Dan Barry, Cancer's Oddest Effect
    Hal R. Varian, Analyzing the Marriage Gap
    *Shirley Jackson, The Lottery

    Chapter 12: Argument

    Everyday Argument / Life Is Good
    *► Matthew Douglas, The Evil Empire? [annotated]
    Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence
    Chief Seattle, Reply to the U.S. Government
    Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream
    Barack Obama, A More Perfect Union
    *Sojourner Truth, Ain't I a Woman?
    *Michael Lewis, Buy That Little Girl an Ice Cream Cone

    Ruth C. Engs, Why the Drinking Age Should Be Lowered
    Jack Hitt, The Battle of the Binge
    Robert Voas, There's No Benefit to Lowering the Drinking Age

    *Mark Sisson, Should We Allow Drugs in Sports?
    *Joe Lindsey, Why Legalizing Sports Doping Won't Work
    *William Moller, We, the Public, Place the Best Athletes on Pedestals

    *► Sarah Wilensky, Generation Plagiarism
    *Trip Gabriel, Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age
    Ellen Goodman, Who Owns Dr. King's Words?
    Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture

    *Amy Goldwasser, What's the Matter with Kids Today?
    *Stephen Pinker, Mind Over Mass Media
    *Peggy Orenstein, I Tweet, Therefore I Am

    Chapter 13: Combining Methods

    Michael Lewis, Liar's Poker
    *► Melissa Hicks, The High Price of Butter
    Eric Schlosser, What We Eat
    Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point
    *Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto
    Billy Collins, Fishing on the Susquehanna in July

    Appendix: Using MLA-Style Documentation

    ► Dylan Borchers, Against the Odds

    Glossary / Index