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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $54.00
  • December 2011
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-91218-0
  • 1280 pages
  • Territory Rights: USA and Dependencies, Philippines and Canada.

The Norton Reader

An Anthology of Nonfiction

Thirteenth Edition


Linda Peterson (General Editor, Late of Yale University), John Brereton (Editor, University of Massachusetts, Boston), Joseph Bizup (Editor, Boston University), Anne Fernald (Editor, Fordham University), Melissa Goldthwaite (Editor, St. Joseph's University)


The classic among essay readers.

The Norton Reader has introduced millions of writing students to the essay as a genre. First published in 1965, it is still the best-selling thematic reader—and the only thematic reader that also supports a genre-based approach. The Thirteenth Edition introduces a new generation of editors, almost 50 new essays, and a unique new website that allows readers to sort and search for readings by theme, genre, mode, keyword, and more.


Endorsements & Reviews

“We chose The Norton Reader for the breadth and excellence of its readings—and for the way those readings foster critical thinking and thoughtful writing. It's a book that prompts both instructors and students to think about many of the most important questions being discussed across the academy today. And it gives our very diverse faculty plenty of choice at a reasonable price.” — Alan Ainsworth, Houston Community College

“Still sets the standard.” — Allston James, Monterey Peninsula College

“The depth, selection, and range of choices in The Norton Reader are exhilarating. I often feel like I am in a candy store and have to make very difficult choices from all the goodies.” — Linda Goldberg, Stevens Institute of Technology

Revised for today’s composition classes

The book has been revised for today’s composition classrooms—and made more searchable and flexible for composition teachers. Multiple indexes and a new website give teachers the options of focusing on the themes they like to teach as well as the genres or modes they assign in their classes.

Almost 50 new readings in the full edition, and almost 25 in the shorter, many of them appearing for the first time in a composition text

New essays include Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, in which a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian explains how she came to coin the popular slogan, and why it resonates so powerfully; Atul Gawande’s When Doctor’s Make Mistakes, a riveting account of errors in medicine—and what can be done to prevent them; Sherman Alexie’s Superman and Me, a literacy narrative about learning to read using comic books; and more. With its mix of classic and contemporary essays, The Norton Reader remains the largest and most authoritative collection of essays.

A new website lets instructors easily sort and search for readings

With this unique website, readings are searchable by theme, genre, mode, keyword, and more. This new site will be especially helpful for building a syllabus: teachers can sort readings by genre, choose the genre they assign, and find readings that demonstrate that genre. Teachers can then read a short passage from each reading and a biographical note about the author, create a list of readings they like, and more.

    • *Appears in the full edition only.
    • Titles in bold are new to the Thirteenth Edition

    Personal Accounts

    • Joan Didion, On Going Home
    • *Chang-Rae Lee, Coming Home Again
    • *Zora Neale Hurston, How It Feels to Be Colored Me
    • Maya Angelou, Graduation
    • *Joey Franklin, Working at Wendy’s
    • Lars Eighner, On Dumpster Diving
    • *Alberto Alvaro Ríos, Green Cards
    • *J. J. Goode, Single-Handed Cooking
    • Nancy Mairs, On Being a Cripple
    • Alice Walker, Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self
    • Anne Fadiman, Night Owl
    • Jennifer Sinor, Confluences
    • E. B. White, Once More to the Lake


    • *Joan Didion, On Keeping a Notebook
    • *Ralph Waldo Emerson, from Journals
    • *Henry David Thoreau, from Journal
    • *Sylvia Plath, from The Journal of Sylvia Plath
    • *Colby Buzzell, Killing Time in Iraq

    Portraits of People and Places

    • Scott Russell, Under the Influence
    • Annie Dillard, from An American Childhood
    • *Judith Ortiz Cofer, More Room
    • N. Scott Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain
    • *Tom Wolfe, Yeager
    • Toni Morrison, Strangers
    • *Jamaica Kincaid, Sowers and Reapers
    • Jhumpa Lahiri, Rhode Island
    • Ian Frazier, Take the F
    • David Guterson, Enclosed, Enclopedic, Endured: The Mall of America

    Human Nature

    • Anna Quindlen, Between the Sexes, a Great Divide
    • *Paul Theroux, Being a Man
    • Scott Russell Sanders, Looking at Women
    • *Amy Cunningham, Why Women Smile
    • Andrew Sullivan, What Is a Homosexual?
    • Henry Petroski, Falling Down Is Part of Growing Up
    • *M. F. K. Fisher, Young Hunger
    • Jane Smiley, Belly, Dancing, Belly, Aching, Belly, Beasts
    • *Gloria Steinem, The Good News Is: These Are Not the Best Years of Your Life
    • Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, On the Fear of Death

    Cultural Analysis

    • Nicholas Carr, Is Google Making Us Stupid?
    • *Anthony Burgess, Is America Falling Apart?
    • *Adam Goodheart, 9.11.01: The Skyscraper and the Airplane
    • *Malcolm Gladwell, Java Man
    • Jessica Mitford, Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain
    • Henry Louis Gates, Jr., In the Kitchen
    • *Charles Lamb, Dissertation upon a Roast Pig
    • Nicholas D. Kristof, Saudis in Bikinis
    • *Roland Barthes, Toys
    • Fred Strebeigh, The Wheels of Freedom: Bicycles in China
    • *Betty Rollin, Motherhood: Who Needs It?
    • *Bill McKibben, The Case for Single-Child Families
    • *James Baldwin, Stranger in the Village
    • Brent Staples, Black Men and Public Space
    • *Debra Dickerson, Who Shot Johnny?

    Op-Eds and Public Arguments

    • Anna Quindlen, Stuff Is Not Salvation
    • Molly Ivins, Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of Guns
    • *Jo-Ann Pilardi, The Immigration Problem Is about Us, Not Them
    • *Thomas Friedman, America’s Real Dream Team
    • Brent Staples, Why Colleges Shower Their Students with A’s
    • *Barbara Ehrenreich, Guys Just Want to Have Fun
    • *David Brooks, The Gender Gap at School
    • *Henry Wechsler, et al., Too Many Colleges Are Still in Denial about Alcohol Abuse
    • *Jack Hitt, The Battle of the Binge
    • *Kenneth Bruffee, Binge Drinking as a Substitute for a “Community of Learning”


    • Frederick Douglass, Learning to Read
    • *Eudora Welty, Clamorous to Learn
    • *Sherman Alexie, Superman and Me
    • John Holt, How Teachers Make Children Hate Reading
    • Jonathan Kozol, Fremont High School
    • Caroline Bird, College Is a Waste of Time and Money
    • William Zinsser, College Pressures
    • *Adrienne Rich, Taking Women Students Seriously
    • Mike Rose, Blue-Collar Brilliance

    Language and Communication

    • Maxine Hong Kingston, Tongue-Tied
    • Richard Rodriguez, Aria
    • *Gloria Anzaldúa, How to Tame a Wild Tongue
    • Gloria Naylor, “Mommy, What Does ‘Nigger’ Mean?”
    • *Patricia Williams, The Death of the Profane: The Rhetoric of Race and Rights
    • John Hamilton McWhorter, The Cosmopolitan Tongue
    • *Dennis Baron, Who Owns Global English?
    • *Benjamin Franklin, Learning to Write
    • Stephen King, On Writing
    • Garrison Keillor, How to Write a Letter and Postcards
    • *Lewis Thomas, Notes on Punctuation
    • *Rebecca Solnit, Locked Horns
    • *Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, “Language Rules”: Witnessing Trauma in South Africa
    • George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

    An Album of Styles

    • Francis Bacon, Of Youth and Age
    • *Ben Jonson, To Write Well
    • John Donne, No Man Is an Island
    • Samuel Johnson, Against Wicked Characters
    • Mary Wollstonecraft, from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
    • *Benjamin Franklin, from Poor Richard’s Almanack
    • *William Blake, Proverbs of Hell
    • Ambrose Bierce, from The Devil’s Dictionary
    • Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address
    • Ernest Hemingway, from A Farewell to Arms
    • Martin Luther King Jr., from I Have a Dream
    • Joan Didion, from On Going Home
    • *Tom Wolfe, from Yeager
    • John McPhee, from Under the Snow
    • *GloriaAnzaldúa, from How to Tame a Wild Tongue
    • *Jamaica Kincaid, from Sowers and Reapers
    • Molly Ivins, from Get a Knife, Get a Dog, but Get Rid of Guns
    • Ian Frazier, from Take the F
    • H. Bruce Franklin, from From Realism to Virtual Reality: Images of America’s Wars
    • *Bill McKibben, from The Case for Single-Child Families

    Nature and the Environment

    • Edward Abbey, The Serpents of Paradise
    • Brian Doyle, Joyas Voladoras
    • John McPhee, Under the Snow
    • *Peter Mattheissen, from Tigers in the Snow
    • *Rachel Carson, Tides
    • *John Muir, A Wind-Storm in the Forests
    • Chief Seattle, Letter to President Pierce, 1855
    • *William Cronon, The Trouble with Wilderness
    • *Mary Oliver, Waste Land: An Elegy
    • *Sandra Steingraber, Tune of the Tuna Fish
    • Terry Tempest Williams, The Clan of One-Breasted Women


    • Mark Twain, Advice to Youth
    • Steven Pinker, The Moral Instinct
    • Jonathan Rauch, In Defense of Prejudice
    • Peter Singer, What Should a Billionaire Give?
    • Atul Gawande, When Doctors Make Mistakes
    • *Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights
    • Michael Pollan, An Animal’s Place
    • *David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster
    • Michael Levin, The Case for Torture
    • Sallie Tisdale, We Do Abortions Here: A Nurse’s Story
    • *Nora Ephron, The Boston Photographs
    • *Michael Dirda, In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World
    • *Paul Fussell, Thank God for the Atom Bomb


    • Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, The Slogan:Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History”
    • Barbara Tuchman, “This Is the End of the World”: The Black Death
    • *Philip Alcabes, The Bioterrorism Scare: A Historical Perspective
    • Walt Whitman, The Death of Lincoln
    • *James McPherson, How Lincoln Won the War with Metaphors
    • Hannah Arendt, Deportations from Western Europe
    • Alberto Manguel, The Library as Survival
    • *Philip Gourevitch, After the Genocide
    • Henry David Thoreau, The Battle of the Ants
    • H. Bruce Franklin, from From Realism to Virtual Reality: Images of America’s Wars
    • *Frances Fitzgerald, Rewriting American History

    Politics and Government

    • George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant
    • Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal
    • Niccolo Machiavelli, The Morals of the Prince
    • Thomas Jefferson and Others, The Declaration of Independence
      • *Original Draft of the Declarationof Independence
    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions
    • Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address
    • John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address
    • Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail
    • *Randall Balmer, Diversity and Stability
    • *Stephen Carter, The Separation of Church and State

    Spoken Words

    • *Martin Luther King Jr., from I Have A Dream
    • *Eleanor Roosevelt, On the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    • Al Gore, The Climate Emergency
    • *William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Award Speech
    • *Barack Obama, The President’s Speech in Cairo: A New Beginning

    Science and Technology

    • Jacob Bronowski, The Nature of Scientific Reasoning
    • Isaac Asimov, The Eureka Phenomenon
    • *Thomas Kuhn, The Route to Normal Science
    • Stephen Hawking, Is Everything Determined?
    • Nicholson Baker, The Charms of Wikipedia
    • *Henry Wechsler, Andrea Davenport, George Dowdall, Barbara Moeykens, and Sonia Castillo, Health and Behavioral Consequences of Binge Drinking: A National Survey of Students at 140 Campuses
    • *Melvin Konner, Why the Reckless Survive
    • 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
    • *Allegra Goodman, Pemberley Previsited
    • *Northrop Frye, The Motive for Metaphor
    • *Mark Doty, Souls on Ice
    • *Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Decolonizing the Mind
    • Virginia Woolf, In Search of a Room of One’s Own
    • Michael Chabon, Kids’ Stuff
    • Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics
    • *Susan Sontag, A Century of Cinema
    • *Susan Allen Toth, Going to the Movies
    • Aaron Copland, How We Listen
    • Gene Weingarten, Pearls Before Breakfast

    Philosophy and Religion

    • Langston Hughes, Salvation
    • *Rita Dove, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians
    • *James Van Tholen, Surprised by Death
    • *Stephen Weinberg, Without God
    • Reg Saner, My Fall into Knowledge
    • Henry David Thoreau, Where I Lived, and What I Lived For
    • Virginia Woolf, The Death of the Moth
    • Annie Dillard, Sight into Insight
    • Plato, The Allegory of the Cave
    • *Jesus, Parables of the Kingdom
    • Zen Parables, Muddy Road, a Parable, Learning to be Silent
    • Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism