Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing

Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing

Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing

Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing


PORTABLE LITERATURE: READING, REACTING, WRITING, Ninth Edition, is an affordable, portable alternative to the full-length and compact versions of this popular Introduction to Literature book. It includes a wide selection of essential classic and contemporary readings along with brief introductions to the literary genres, useful study questions and prompts, and a down-to-earth, accessible guide to writing about literature.


In Alice Walker’s short story “Everyday Use” (p. 344), two sisters—one rural and traditional, one urban and modern—compete for possession of two quilts that have been in their family for years. At the end of the story, the narrator’s description of the quilts suggests their significance—as a link between the old and the new, between what was and what is:

One was in the Lone Star pattern. The other was Walk Around the
Mountain. In both of them were scraps of dresses that Grandma Dee had
worn fifty and more years ago. Bits and pieces of Grandpa Jarrell’s Paisley
shirts. And one teeny faded blue piece, about the size of a penny match
box, that was from Great Grandpa Eza’s uniform that he wore in the Civil
War. (350)

In a sense, Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing is a kind of literary quilt, one that places nontraditional works alongside classics, integrates the familiar with the unfamiliar, and invites students to see well-known works in new contexts. To convey this message, each edition of the book integrates imagery from a handmade quilt. The quilt designed for this new edition uses contemporary as well as traditional quilting techniques to reflect our own increased focus on contemporary and emerging writers as well as on writers from diverse cultures and backgrounds.

The ninth edition of Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing, like the previous editions, is designed to demystify the study of literature and to prepare students to explore the literary works collected here. Our goal in this edition remains what it has been from the start: to expand students’ personal literary boundaries. To this end, we have fine-tuned the reading selections and expanded the pedagogical features that support the study of literature, acting in response to thoughtful comments from our reviewers and from our students. Having class-tested this book in our own literature classrooms, we have learned what kinds of selections and features best help our students to read, think about, understand, and write about literature in ways that make it meaningful to their lives in the twenty-first century.

To help instructors engage their students with literature and guide them in becoming better thinkers and writers, we have added new readings and enhanced key elements that have made Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing a classroom success.

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