Book order deadlines are no respecter of sabbaticals, so here I sit searching for a reader for my fall freshman composition class. Easy, right? The options are endless, and creating a custom reader gets easier all the time (although no less expensive). So what's my problem?
My fall section of freshman composition is a learning community linked with an introductory biology class, so I'll need to introduce students to two different citation styles AND I need very focused readings. No problem finding essays offering a variety of perspectives on, say, biofuels, but where do I find really cutting-edge readings on photosynthesis?
I've found a number of anthologies on contemporary issues in biology, some published as recently as 1981 (!) and some priced under $120 (for a paperback), except for the one that lists the hardback price at $139.99 and the paperback at $912.18. (Surely that's a typo, right? Who pays close to a thousand dollars for a paperback book?)
Maybe it's time to explore a custom reader. The last custom reader I ordered was a disaster--late, incomplete, and outrageously expensive (with no secondary market, so no buybacks)--but that was before the online era. Today's it's a breeze to assemble a custom reader: just click to select essays, study questions, rhetorical apparatus. It's like online shopping: before you know it, your virtual shopping cart bulges with great deals that add up to $912.18. (Maybe that's not a typo....)
For years I've wondered what it would be like to teach a composition class with no reader at all, relying entirely on readings available online or (drum roll, please) in the library. Maybe this would be a good time to find out--from others who have tried it. A little help?
Argh! Now it turns out custom readers have to be ordered in quantities higher than the course cap (18). What next?