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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $45.00
  • February 2013
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-91946-2
  • 736 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

The Norton Sampler

Short Essays for Composition

Eighth Edition


Thomas Cooley (Author, Ohio State University)


A trusted collection of short essays arranged by rhetorical mode—with charming, practical writing instruction.

With 71 readings (half new to this edition), well-written writing instruction (including templates to help students get started), and new navigation features that make it very easy to use, The Norton Sampler is a rhetorically arranged reader that practices what it preaches about good writing.


Great readings by good writers

Works by classic authors (Amy Tan, Annie Dillard) as well as newer authors (Nicholas Carr, Lynda Barry), new readings that will engage students (Warren Buffett on why the super rich should pay more taxes, Barbara Kingsolver on going back to the Kentucky town where she grew up, Andrea Lunsford on how texting and tweeting are actually making students better writers), and 10 annotated student essays—and more.

Practical, well-written writing instruction

With templates to help students get started, brief guides to writing each mode, tips for edition common errors, and a new chapter on writing paragraphs, The Norton Sampler provides enough instruction so that students won’t need an additional rhetoric.

New, user-friendly navigation features

Links in the margins direct students from the writing instruction to specific examples in the readings – and the reverse. A combined glossary/index provides full definitions of key terms and concepts and serves as an easy reference for students.

Assistance for students whose primary language is not English

Glosses for unfamiliar terms and allusions, templates to help students begin writing, and grammar tips for writing in each mode offer help that many students need.  

    * Essays new to this edition.

    Annie Dillard, from Holy the Firm
    How I Wrote the Moth Essay—and Why

    Chapter 1: Reading as a Writer
    Chapter 2: The Writing Process
    Chapter 3: Writing Paragraphs
    Chapter 4: Description
        A Brief Guide to Writing
        Everyday Description: A Missing Cat Flyer
        *Grace Welte, Bracken County, Northern Kentucky [student essay]
        *Paul Crenshaw, Storm Country
        *Brian Doyle, Joyas Voladoras
        Cherokee Paul McDonald, A View from the Bridge
        Alice Steinbach, The Miss Dennis School of Writing
        Ann Hodgman, No Wonder They Call Me a Bitch
        E. B. White, Once More to the Lake

    Chapter 5: Narration
        A Brief Guide to Writing
        Everyday Narration: A Book Cover
        *Carrie Barker, But Two Negatives Equal a Positive [student essay]
        Thomas Beller, The Ashen Guy: September 11, 2001
        Heidi Julavits, Turning Japanese
        Yiyun Li, Orange Crush
        Mary Mebane, The Back of the Bus
        *Lynda Barry, The Sanctuary of School
        *Barbara Kingsolver, In Case You Ever Want to Go Home Again

    Chapter 6: Example
        A Brief Guide to Writing
        Everyday Example: A Lighted Billboard

        Monica Wunderlich, My Technologically Challened Life [student essay]
        The Onion, All Seven Deadly Sins Committed at Church Bake Sale
        Janet Wu, Homeward Bound
        Richard Lederer, English Is a Crazy Language
        *Alex Horton, Metal Memorials
        *Joanna Weiss, Happy Meals and Old Spice Guy
        *David Sedaris, Laugh, Kookaburra

    Chapter 7: Classification
        A Brief Guide to Writing
        Everyday Classification: Drunk / Buzzed
        Eric Watts, The Color of Success [student essay]
        Amy Tan, Mother Tongue
        *Jack Hitt, The Dollar-Store Economy
        *Warren Buffet, Stop Coddling the Super-Rich
        David Brooks, Harmony and the Dream
        *Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt, Claire Brindis, The Toxic Truth about Sugar

    Chapter 8: Process Analysis
        A Brief Guide to Writing
        Everyday Process Analysis: How to Draw Cartoons
        *Jessica Walden, Chasing Loons [student essay]
        Jon Katz, How Boys Become Men
        Allegra Goodman, So You Want to Be a Writer? Here’s How.
        *Jeffrey Skinner, Practices of Moderately Successful Poets
        Phillip Weiss, How to Get Out of a Locked Trunk
        *Adam Penenberg and Marc Barry, The Pizza Plot

    Chapter 9: Comparison and Contrast
        A Brief Guide to Writing
        Everyday Comparison: A Souvenir Coffee Mug
        *Dan Treadway, Football vs. Asian Studies [student essay]
        Jeff Jacoby, Watching Oprah from Behind the Veil
        Bruce Catton, Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts
        *Pico Iyer, Chapels:The Rewards of Being Quiet
        Gary Soto, Like Mexicans
        Deborah Tannen, Gender in the Classroom
        *Roger Cohen, The Meaning of Life

    Chapter 10: Definition
        A Brief Guide to Writing
        Everyday Definition: Social Media Explained
        *Lawrence Collerd, City of Big Shoulders [student essay, annotated]
        Dave Barry, Guys vs. Men
        Tanya Barrientos, Se Habla Español
        Geeta Kothari, If You Are What You Eat, Then What Am I?
        *Erin McKean, Redefining Definition
        *Mike Rose, Blue-Collar Brilliance
        * Jack Horner, The Extraordinary Characteristics of Dyslexia

    Chapter 11: Cause and Effect
        A Brief Guide to Writing
        Everyday Cause and Effect: World Wildlife Poster
        *Elisa Gonzales, Family History [student essay]
        *Tim Wendel, King, Kennedy, and the Power of Words
        Marisa Nuñez, Climbing the Golden Arches
        Henry Louis Gates Jr., A Giant Step
        Myriam Marquez, Why and When We Speak Spanish in Public
        *Ann Hood, Long Beautiful Hair

    Chapter 12: Argument
        A Brief Guide to Writing

        Everyday Argument: T-Shirt on a Stick
        *Liz Addison, Two Years Are Better Than Four [student essay]
        Johnson Montgomery, The Island of Plenty
        Mark White and Robert Arp, Should Batman Kill the Joker?
        *Arianna Huffington, Empathy: What We Need Now

    Mind and Media: Is Google Making Us Stupid?
        *Steven Pinker, Mind over Mass Media
        *Nicholas Carr, Hal and Me
        *Andrea Lunsford, Our Semi-Literate Youth? Not So Fast

    Moneyball: Are College Sports Worth the Price?
        *Michael Rosenberg, Let Stars Get Paid
        *Joe Posnanski, College Athletes Should Not Be Paid
        *Laura Pappano, How Big-Time Sports Ate College Life

    Chapter 13: Classic Essays and Speeches
        Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence
        Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal
        Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address
        *Sojourner Truth, Ain’t I a Woman?
        Virginia Woolf, The Death of the Moth
        Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

    Appendix: Using Sources in Your Writing
    Glossary / Index