Text Selection Guidelines

First-Year Writing

Text Selection Process

Book order forms should be submitted to Phyllis Brooks for review.  Do not complete book orders online.  Submit all book order forms, even if they are for courses other than the first-year writing courses.  A director will contact you if there are questions or problems.  If you would like to talk over book order selections, you can do so in person or over e-mail.

To get a desk copy of a recommended book, please see Phyllis.  We order a number of extra copies and are happy to give them out until we run out.  If we don't have your text, please contact the representative directly.  You can have your copy sent directly to your home, which may be more convenient.  A complete list of representatives is at the bottom of this page.


Our practice is to recommend a range of texts.  If you would like to use an alternate text that is not on our list, review course criteria carefully and then be sure to attach a brief description (web page is fine) of your alternative text.  The Textbook Review Committee has worked diligently and impressively to review existing and new texts; their recommendations were made to the directors who have put together the final list based on those recommendations. As always, the teacher survey on the texts has been very useful in informing these guidelines.  We remove unpopular texts from the recommended list. Thank you to all who participated, and particularly to the Textbook Committee members: Gerrie Logan, Tony Williams, Emily Hoeflinger, Sally Sevcik, Sasha Troyan and Julia Wagner.

Price information (net price) comes from the publisher, and these prices will be raised by the bookstore.  If the edition is at least one year old the bookstore will also have used books, which generally are about 20 to 25 percent lower than the new price.  Price is important, we believe, though it's not the only consideration.  If you are torn between two texts, please choose the less expensive one.

ENWR 100 Introduction to Writing

Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference, custom edition for Montclair State University.
This is the only option for a handbook.  However, if you choose to package with another reader by the same publisher (see below), use the ISBN listed with the individual text.  Please note that this is a new version of the handbook with Montclair-specific material.  See note regarding use of the handbook at the bottom of this page.  

ISBN-13: 978-1-4576-6996-5

Made with Words. 
Custom-published book; put together by Emily Isaacs, Maria Giura, Catherine Keohane, Tom Kitchen, Lauralee Lubrano, and Jennifer Maloy.

ISBN-13 478-0-312-69869-0

ENWR 105 College Writing I: Intellectual Prose


Hacker, Diana. A Writer’s Reference, custom edition for Montclair State University. This is the only option for a handbook.  However, if you choose to package with another reader by the same publisher (see below), use the ISBN listed with the individual text.  Please note that this is a new version of the handbook with Montclair-specific material.

ISBN-13: 978-1-4576-6996-5

Recommended 105 Readers:
In addition to the handbook, ENWR105 students need a reader that requires students to read intellectually engaging essays (not fiction) about other issues of the day. As a reminder, in choosing a text it is important to remember that the following additional course aim: "To develop as a writer is to become an active participant in the intellectual discourse of our culture and to cease to be a passive recipient of information and ideology. College Writing I: Intellectual Prose asks students to explore, amongst other issues, issues of marginalization—an experience that many of our students have already encountered or participated in, even if they are not aware of it. By increasing students’ awareness of their own subject positions and enabling them to find an entry point to such discussions, this course helps students to develop the ability for critical reflection and discursive agency." (Proposal for College Writing I)

Emerging: Contemporary Readings for Writers by Barrios, Barclay coverBarrios, Barclay. Emerging: Contemporary Readings for Writers, 2nd ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2013.
The overall theme reflects students’ role as emerging writers and as emerging global citizens. This text has challenging, provocative, new readings which are fresh and interesting. The readings are long in a way that makes sense, but which means students will be able to read about three readings per unit. Rather than group the readings by theme, Barrios arranges readings alphabetically, providing sample assignment sequences that provide many different ways to approach the essays and various keyword “tags” to signal ways of combining them. Faculty will have to figure out units, and also essay questions on their own. Nonetheless, the instructor’s edition includes a detailed guide to teaching providing support to beginning faculty with sample syllabi, assignments, and classroom exercises to encourage writing and revision through various drafts.. The overall theme reflects students’ role as emerging writers and as emerging global citizens; it is a useful way to promote the applicability of a writing course to students’ lives. The introduction stresses the universal relevance of critical thinking and thoughtful communication, and the questions at the end of each reading are solidly geared toward connective thinking.  Although it does not include detailed writing instruction for students, they have free access to the publisher’s site Re:Writing.

ISBN: 978-1-4576-0197-2. Net price: $ 62.95. For fall adoption, please consider packaging with required handbook so students can save 10% on both.

From Inquiry to Academic Writing: A Text and Reader? by Greene, Stuart, and April Lidinsky cover
Greene, Stuart, and April Lidinsky.
From Inquiry to Academic Writing: A Text and Reader, 2nd ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012.
The most popular among faculty this fall, this reader is focused on reading and writing arguments which, as teachers know, is also the focus of the course. If an instructor wants to really have the class reader help with teaching students to write arguments, then this is a good choice. Teachers would do well to use some of the pedagogical materials as homework or in-class work. The readings are arranged topically, and they are about important, current topics and arguments in our culture. The readings are good models for students in that they are not primarily first-person narratives and they demonstrate careful argumentation. There’s good coverage of various points of view on each issue covered – fairer, more thorough, than most. Faculty survey comments reflect that students generally praise this text on student evaluations. -Gerrie Logan

ISBN-13: 978-0-312-60141-6. Net Price: $55.00. For fall adoption, consider packaging with the handbook so students can save 10% on both: ISBN-13: 978-1-4576-1037-0.  Web Support at: www.bedfordstmartins.com/frominquiry.

Morales, Aaron Michael. American Mash Up: A Popular Culture Reader. New York: Pearson, 2012
American Mashup has interesting readings that are thought provoking and fresh. This is an attractive volume: reasonable size, lively, colorful layout and a healthy amount of graphics. Each reading has a lot of framing. The “mash-up” approach not only allows the opportunity for more visual deconstruction, but it can also be used in the more traditional form of idea development. The best part of the text is the list of questions at the end of each reading, which will be sure to engage the writer in both thinking critically and writing intelligently. The suggested topics at the end of each unit will help students craft better arguments and see how different readings might come together in a critical essay. What may be viewed as one weakness in this text is the length of the essays. The readings are 2-3 pages on average. Instructors will probably want to accommodate for the shortness of essays by supplementing the book’s readings with longer outside essays. However, for those instructors who like to group readings thematically, this can easily be done. This text has a lot of flexibility for syllabus construction and course personalization. One important point to note is that the text lacks some of the pedagogical material that is offered by other readers; therefore, it is recommended for more experienced instructors of 105. -Emily Hoeflinger and Gerrie Logan

ISBN-13: 978-0-205-82372-7 Net Price: $60.00

ENWR 106 College Writing II: Writing and Literary Study

Required: a multicultural fiction/poetry/short story reader

Recommended 106 Readers:
College Writing II is a continuation of College Writing I (with its emphasis on the process of writing including attention to revision, drafting, and instructor and peer feedback on writing) with a focus on literary study.  In this regard, the course aims to teach students a range of interpretive techniques and approaches that will enable them to further their skills of analysis, while also coming to an understanding of some of the particular qualities of poetry, fiction and drama and to address larger questions about the purpose and function of literature.  The course is not a survey that attempts to cover a period or offer "greatest hits."

New Worlds of Literature: Writings from America's Many Cultures by Beaty, Jerome and J. Paul Hunter cover
Beaty, Jerome and J. Paul Hunter. New Worlds of Literature: Writings from America's Many Cultures, 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1994.
As the subtitle suggests, the focus of this anthology is on the many cultures represented by American Writers today. Perhaps its greatest defining factor is that this anthology is almost entirely made up of contemporary works--for the most part written in the last quarter of the twentieth century.  Instructors who are looking for newer works or to change up their reading selections might find this book to be a good choice. The anthology includes poetry, fiction, drama, non-fiction and autobiographical essays. The readings are compelling, especially the drama, which offers several plays not seen in the other anthologies on our list.  The text is organized thematically: home, family, heritage, language, aliens, fences, crossing, Americans, and beliefs.  At the end of each section, there are questions useful for generating class discussion and several student essays for use in modeling the drafting process in class. While there is strength in its selection of contemporary texts, it deviates from the rest of the offered anthologies in that it does not offer much in terms of instructional support. As well, it lacks a section on theoretical approaches. For this reason, this anthology is recommended for instructors with a strong pedagogical base, who feel comfortable supplementing additional resources. -Emily Hoeflinger

ISBN-13: 978-0-393-96354-0 Net Price: $61.43

Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing by Laurie Kirzner and Stephen R. Mandell cover
Kirzner, Laurie G. and Stephen R. Mandell. Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing, 8th ed. Boston: Wadsworth/Cengage, 2013.
This is a three-genre introduction to literature text that capaciously addresses the changing canon and includes an equally comprehensive guide for writing about literature-with full coverage of critical thinking, argument, and the writing process. Teachers themselves, Kirszner & Mandell take students through each step of the research and writing process, helping them to craft literary analyses and arguments and to understand that writing about literature is a process of discovery, examination, and debate. There is no shortage of sample student essays, sample research driven projects, and units in all the genres with already imagined and compiled in one area. This text is for the instructor who wants a very strong pedagogical text that supports the Diana Hacker handbook with plenty of sample student essays and case studies included to build a documented essay unit around. This text has also made every effort to pair canonical western works with contemporary non-western authors of mixed gender and race in all readings, including drama. Lastly, this text comes with Literature in the 21st Century, a dvd for the classroom that includes visual and audio information on authors and titles, recordings of works, the research process, the elements, the explicator, and literature quizzes. It’s a genre based text so it’s for an instructor who doesn’t mind making up themes on their own from the hundreds of selected readings. -Julia Wagner

ISBN-13: 978-1-111-83904-8 Net Price: $61.99

The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature by Michael Meyer cover
Meyer, Michael. The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature, 9th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012.
In terms of a text that offers a fresh global perspective with a real effort to pair canonical Western works with non-Western and non-white authors, this text amply satisfies. With 58 stories, 378 poems, and 18 plays, this text really does provide a variety of periods, nationalities, cultures, styles and voices from the traditional to the contemporary. It offers a highly dynamic drama section with over 18 plays inclusive of many “newer” dramatists such as: Jane Anderson, Sharon Cooper, Christopher Durang, Jane Martin, and Rich Orloff. There are over 100 pages devoted to thematic case studies, and brief essays to be used as secondary sources to assist the students with interpretation and content. Interesting and useful discussion questions for short and longer papers are provided in the thematic groupings. This text is heavily genre based and is equal in pedagogical material to Making Literature Matter. -Julia Wagner

ISBN-13: 978-0-312-59434-3 Net Price: $63.00

Making Literature Matter with MLA/APA by John Schilb and John Clifford cover
Schilb, John and John Clifford.
Making Literature Matter with MLA/APA update. 5th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012.
Making Literature Matter
is a popular choice among first-year writing faculty, and it offers a comprehensive look at the relationship between writing and literary study.  The text is divided into two sections: part one deals specifically with guiding students on how to write arguments about literature (spread across all genres), while part two includes a thematic look at literature and its issues (themes are Families, Love, Freedom and Confinement, Doing Justice, and Journeys).  While this text includes familiar canonical works, the fifth edition does boast some new ethnically diverse modern voices like Jhumpa Lahiri, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Audre Lorde, Barry Lopez, Nelly Sachs, Atul Gawande, Ha Jin, Linh Dinh, and Toi Derricotte.  While the drama section is still limited to the typical canonical offerings, there is a new selection by Terrence McNally in this fifth edition.  Also new to the fifth edition are “In the News” clusters which encourage student writers to draw parallels between literature and contemporary events.  While a professor might want to update the literary criticism given for some of the readings, this text has a wide range of options and can be easily tailored to individual interests and teaching styles. -Donna Phillips

ISBN-13: 978-0-312-65354-5. NET Price: $79.95

Schakel, Peter, and Jack Ridl.  Approaching Literature: Reading + Thinking + Writing, 3rd ed., New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012.

Approaching Literature presents a balance of contemporary and canonical literature.  The readings are grouped by genre but instructors can easily group readings thematically and the content is accessible to all students.  The drama section is slightly stronger than Making Literature Matter but this text lacks strong literary criticisms that correspond to the readings.  Overall, the text is student friendly and offers many engaging and diverse literary works. -Gerrie Logan

ISBN 13: 978-0-312-64099-6. Net Price: $58.95.  


Meyer, Michael. Literature To Go, 2nd ed., New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014.

Drawn from our best-selling anthology, The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Literature to Go is a brief and inexpensive collection of stories, poems, and plays supported by the superior instruction you expect from a Michael Meyer anthology. With literature from many periods, cultures, and diverse voices, the book is also a complete guide to close reading, critical thinking, and thoughtful writing about literature. The second edition features a new thematic chapter on our working lives and a new in-depth chapter on the fiction of Dagoberto Gilb, created in collaboration with the author himself—continuing the anthology’s mission to present literature as a living, changing art form. -Bedford/St. Martins

ISBN 13: 978-1-4576-5051-2. Net Price: $53.99.




Note on the Handbook:
Remember that you need to use the handbook in class. Very briefly, here are a few ways they can be used:

  • You may require students to bring the handbook to class when you are having an editing workshop (every two weeks or so), and at those times you can demonstrate how to use the index to look up a challenging issue (e.g., effect/affect or that/which).
  • It is also useful to assign sections for review when commenting on papers; instructors may also want to selectively send students to accompanying website.
  • When students come for a conference, pulling out the handbook to answer a question models how the handbook--not just a teacher--can help out with usage, grammatical, and mechanical problems.
  • This handbook has a section on ESL that teachers should read, and to which teachers can refer ESL students.
  • Finally, in 105 faculty need to point students to the MLA section and make sure students know how to read those pages so that they cite appropriately, first in unit papers (using the class text) and second in the documented essay.

The special preface is designed for the benefit of teachers as well as students. Most of the information provided in it is descriptive rather than prescriptive; it is there to function as a guide for you as you plan your courses and write your syllabi.  It will also allow you to greatly shorten your syllabi!

While the aim is to provide consistency for the program, it is also true that faculty like the text and support it.  Survey results this spring were as follows:

I have used A WRITER'S REFERENCE (Hacker) and I:

recommend it




don't recommend it


( 0%)


am ambivalent




no answer


( 7%)


Do you think the custom A Writer's Reference is a useful text to require of all First Year Writing students (ENWR 100, 105, and 106)?







( 7%)






no answer


( 7%)


It will be necessary for you to interpret this material, and to communicate it to your students using terms and language that best reflect your own teaching style.  As always, if you have any questions about the program or a particular course, you should not hesitate to contact one of the directors.

Publisher Reps

Pearson/Longman (Allyn & Bacon): Carlos Mercado, carlos.mercado@pearson.com
Wadsworth/Cengage Learning: Jennifer Runz, Jennifer.Runz@cengage.com
Bedford/St. Martin: Joane Rothschild, joanie.rothschild@macmillan.com
Norton: Jake Schindel, jschindel@wwnorton.com