At the posts below, I have provided links to the Excellence in Literature focus texts so you can see the editions I prefer. Because I want students to enjoy reading and studying these books, I have specific criteria in mind when looking for a good edition.
- Pages must have adequate margins because students will need to annotate (write in) their books.
- The publisher’s introduction and notes must be reasonably balanced and informative.
- Print size must be readable in average light by the average reader.
- Hard cover classics are nice, but can be expensive and bulky, so most of the chosen editions are the same high-quality trade paperbacks I have in my own library.
- The book must lie open like a hardback. It’s not fun to wrestle with keeping one of those cheap, mass-market paperbacks open while reading. With mass-market paperbacks, what usually happens is that when it gets open far enough to read easily, the spine breaks, and the stages is set for pages to start falling out.
- Here is an article on choosing print, digital, or audio formats for your focus texts.
- Each book linked to Amazon is linked by an affiliate link, which means I get a few cents from each book purchase, though it doesn’t change your cost.
For some books, especially those translated from another language, you may have more than one edition to choose from. I recommend that either you or your student click on the “Look Inside” feature at Amazon and read the first page or two in order to get a sense of the translator’s voice and style. Choose the one the student prefers.
There are several publishers who offer good editions of the classics, and you will see that I have favorites. Most of the focus texts in my library come from Modern Library Press, Ignatius Critical Editions, Oxford, Penguin, and Norton. At the moment, I have mostly Modern Library Press and Penguin, but I’ve started collecting the Ignatius Critical Editions, as they offer more extensive notes and analytical essays than any other editions I’ve encountered. In addition, the publisher’s mission statement promises a focus on “traditional moral readings” rather than feminist or deconstructionist criticism. I am very impressed by the quality of the Ignatius editions I’ve seen so far.
Excellence in Literature text recommendations
You will find the study guide as well as the focus and honors texts for each level listed and linked at the pages below. Remember, the study guide is available on this site as a print book, an e-book, or in a print/e-book bundle. We also offer the Complete Curriculum — all five years of English study in a binder.
Note: As mentioned in the disclosure at the bottom of the page, all links to Amazon are affiliate links, which means that a few cents from each purchase comes back to support the work we do here. Thank you for choosing to start your Amazon exploration here.