Nelson Higher Education

Higher Education

The River Reader, 12th Edition

  • Joseph F. Trimmer
  • ISBN-10: 130563411X
  • ISBN-13: 9781305634114
  • 432 Pages | Paperback
  • Previous Editions: 2014, 2011, 2008
  • COPYRIGHT: 2017 Published
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About the Product

THE RIVER READER, 12th Edition (formerly THE RIVERSIDE READER), is a collection of expository essays arranged by rhetorical modes: narration and description, process and analysis, comparison and contrast, division and classification, definition, cause and effect, and persuasion and argument. A final thematic unit, "Food: A Casebook," illustrates all of these modes. The readings, which include short stories, represent diverse voices and views from some of the most respected professional essayists working in the English language. Essays in this edition serve as structural models for students to emulate in their writing and as sources of content for classroom discussion and paper topics. Headnotes and post-reading material analyze each reading in context, helping students better understand the craft of writing and apply what they learn to their own work. The 12th Edition is available with MindTap.


  • From the simple to the more complex, a range of readings appears throughout the text, while paired readings offer pro and con perspectives on hot topics.

  • Annotated and alternate thematic tables of contents facilitate syllabus building and offer flexibility in planning.

  • An introductory section promotes active reading, with Guidelines for Reading an Essay, a sample analysis of an essay, and Guidelines for Writing an Essay. Accompanying questions concerning purpose, audience, and strategy help students think critically about writing.

  • Visual texts, including one photograph per chapter and an eight-page color photo essay on food, emphasize the power of images to evoke insights and ideas. They also provide new ways for students to create writing topics based on what they see.


THE RIVER READER is an ideal mix of classical and contemporary readings. It engages readers to think about issues of social justice in American society. It combines creative and expository pieces."
— Megan Anderson, Limestone College

About the Author

Joseph F. Trimmer

Joseph F. Trimmer is Professor of English Emeritus and Director Emeritus of The Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry at Ball State University. He is the author of numerous articles on literature, culture, and literacy, including THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION: THE FIRST TWENTY-FIVE YEARS (1978), UNDERSTANDING OTHERS: CULTURAL AND CROSS-CULTURAL STUDIES AND THE TEACHING OF LITERATURE (1992), and NARRATION AS KNOWLEDGE: TALES OF THE TEACHING LIFE (1997). Professor Trimmer has also worked on 20 documentary films for PBS, including the six-part series, "Middletown" (1982). His textbooks include WRITING WITH A PURPOSE, 14th Edition (2004), THE RIVER READER, 12th Edition (formerly the RIVERSIDE READER (2016), and eFICTIONS (2002). Trimmer's A GUIDE TO MLA DOCUMENTATION, 9th Edition is a perennial bestseller; he has also published A GUIDE TO APA DOCUMENTATION.

Table of Contents

Thematic Table of Contents.
Guidelines for Reading an Essay.
Sample Analysis of an Essay: Virginia Woolf, Shakespeare's Sister.
Forming a Working Purpose: The Hypothesis.
Testing Your Hypothesis: The Discovery Draft.
Purpose and Thesis.
Guidelines for Determining Your Purpose.
Guidelines for Analyzing Your Audience.
Guidelines for Selecting Your Strategy.
Student Essay: Kristie Ferguson, The Scenic Route.
Marjane Satrapi, The Veil (visual text).
Maya Angelou, My Name Is Margaret.
David Sedaris, I Like Guys.
George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant.
Richard Russo, Dog.
James Stevenson, How Many It Takes.
P. J. O'Rourke, Third World Driving Hints and Tips.
Scott Adams, How to Get a Real Education.
Lars Eighner, My Daily Dives in the Dumpster.
Elizabeth Winthrop, The Golden Darters (story).
Joseph Rosenthal, Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.
Thomas Franklin, Raising the Flag at Ground Zero.
Mark Twain, Two Views of the River.
Howard Moody, Sacred Rite or Civil Right?
Bruce Catton, Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts.
Alice Walker, Everyday.
Different Types of Guitar Music.
Judith Viorst, The Truth About Lying.
David Cole, Five Myths About Immigration.
James H. Austin, Four Kinds of Chance.
Flannery O'Connor, Revelation (story).
Charles Barsotti, Cute is whatever you can get away with (visual text).
Gloria Naylor, A Word's Meaning Can Often Depend on Who Says It.
James Gleick, Attention! Multitaskers.
Joseph Epstein, Duh, Bor-ing.
Toni Cade Bambara, The Lesson (story).
Rosa Parks Riding a Bus (visual text).
Calvin Trillin, Comforting Thoughts.
Daniel Goleman, Peak Performance: Why Records Fall.
Brent Staples, Black Men in Public Spaces.
Alice Adams, Truth or Consequences.
Healthcare Reform (visual text).
A Debate about College Sports.
Taylor Branch, The Shame of College Sports.
Seth David, Should College Athletes Be Paid? Why, They Already Are.
A Debate About Liberal Arts.
Peter Cohan, To Boost Post-College Prospects, Cut Humanities Departments.
William Deresiewicz, What Is College For?
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Harrison Bergeron (story).
Food: A Casebook.
Images of Food: A Visual Essay.
Teresa Lust, The Same Old Stuffing (narration and description).
Laurie Colwin, How to Fry Chicken (process analysis).
Suzanne Britt Jordon, That Lean and Hungry Look (comparison and contrast).
Alexander Theroux, The Candy Man (discussion and classification).
Michael Pollan, Eat Food: Food Defined (definition).
Eric Schlosser: Why McDonald's French Fries Taste So Good (cause and effect).
Peter Singer, Equality for Animals (persuasion and argument).
Laura Fraser, Why I Stopped Being a Vegetarian (persuasion and argument).
Andres Dubus, The Fat Girl (story).

New to this edition

  • A new casebook, "Food," presents variations on the theme of food. The eight essays and one short story, which are arranged to repeat the patterns presented in the seven rhetorical chapters, illustrate how such strategies enable a writer to investigate a theme from a variety of perspectives. Selections, among others, include Laurie Colwin's "How to Fry Chicken," Michael Pollen's "Eat Food: Food Defined," and Andres Dubus's "The Fat Girl."
  • An eight-page, full-color photographic essay, "Images of Food," emphasizes the power of images to evoke ideas and insights. Each image is followed by a writing assignment that encourages students to connect what they see with what they read and plan to write.
  • This edition includes new paired articles that promote students' critical thinking. For example, the selections in the chapter on persuasion and argument have been paired to present different perspectives on the purpose of student athletics and a liberal arts education--topics that will be of interest and relevance to many students.


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the Main title.
Please see Main title page for new to this edition information.

Instructor Supplements

Instructor's Companion Website  (ISBN-10: 1305674731 | ISBN-13: 9781305674738)
MindTap English, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access for Trimmer's The River Reader  (ISBN-10: 1305858530 | ISBN-13: 9781305858534)

MindTap English for Trimmer’s The River Reader, 12th Edition is the digital learning solution that powers students from memorization to mastery. It gives you complete control of your course—to provide engaging content, to challenge every individual, and to build their confidence. Empower students to accelerate their progress with MindTap. MindTap: Powered by You. MindTap engages students to become better thinkers, communicators, and writers as they review every aspect of the writing process. Interactive activities emphasize grammar and mechanics. A paper management system allows electronic submission, grading, and peer review while tracking potential plagiarism. Video tutorials and examples support research and professional tutoring guides students from rough drafts to polished writing. Analytics track student progress as MindTap works with existing learning management systems.

Instructor's Edition  (ISBN-10: 1305674782 | ISBN-13: 9781305674783)

Student Supplements

MindTap English, 1 term (6 months) Instant Access for Trimmer's The River Reader  (ISBN-10: 1305858530 | ISBN-13: 9781305858534)

MindTap English for Trimmer’s The River Reader, 12th Edition helps you learn on your terms. INSTANT ACCESS IN YOUR POCKET. Take advantage of the MindTap Mobile App. Read or listen to the book and study with flashcards and practice quizzes. MINDTAP HELPS YOU GEAR UP FOR ULTIMATE SUCCESS. Track your scores and stay motivated. Improve your college writing and research skills with built-in tools, such as a professional tutoring service, a database of scholarly sources and interactive videos to support research papers. A dictionary and other tools keep you organized and on track. You’ll know where you need to focus your efforts. MINDTAP HELPS YOU MAKE THE TEXTBOOK YOURS. No one knows what works for you better than you. Highlight key text, add notes, and create custom flashcards. When it’s time to study, everything you’ve flagged or noted can be gathered into a guide you organize.