How To find readings in the "How To" genre?
September 18, 2014 12:37 PM   Subscribe

I am teaching a First-Year Composition course and we're heading into a unit in which students will write a "how to" or process essay. I'm looking for recommendations for readings that might go along with this unit. What readings can you recommend -- either essays, articles, or short fiction -- that are "how to"/process essays, or that use this format?

Googling has mostly resulted in finding a slew of "how to write a college essay" blog posts, which is not what I'm looking for. I'm flexible in terms of topic, so long as it's classroom appropriate. Blog posts and such might be okay, but I'm hoping to find something well-written and meaty enough to have an in-class discussion about. (Or, if not a single piece, then perhaps an array of short, well-written instructional pieces that we can compare?)

I'm familiar with The Toast's "How To" articles, and they might work, though many seem pretty esoteric for my audience first-year college students. I mention them, though, because I'd like to have options that range from straight-up instructions on completing a process to things that are more creative/abstract.
posted by dryad to Education (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
George Orwell, A Nice Cup of Tea
posted by phunniemee at 12:42 PM on September 18, 2014

Mason Williams (from the incredible Mason Williams Reading Matter), How to Derive the Maximum Enjoyment from Crackers
posted by Madamina at 12:49 PM on September 18, 2014

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
It is a classic business book. Well written and easy to read.
It is also available free online from lots of places, like here.
posted by Flood at 1:03 PM on September 18, 2014

Look for old military instruction manuals, like from WW2.
posted by thelonius at 1:16 PM on September 18, 2014

How to Eat Like a Child.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:07 PM on September 18, 2014

One of my favorite (humorous) examples of this sort of writing is "The Modified Stationary Panic", one of the pieces in Patrick F. McManus's A Fine and Pleasant Misery.
posted by Aleyn at 3:45 PM on September 18, 2014

There are a few short essays in The Chairs are Where the People Go that might work, and it's a fun read.
posted by oulipian at 5:16 PM on September 18, 2014

I really liked Lorrie Moore's short-story collection Self Help (NY Times review) and it might be exactly what you want. My favorite is "How to Be an Other Woman" but there are number of others in there that would work, too.
posted by charmedimsure at 9:40 PM on September 18, 2014

An unconventional how-to: How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher. Each chapter is a different how-to related to living lean during wartime rationing.
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:56 AM on September 19, 2014

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