For a few years now I've been going bookless in English Comp I courses--the equivalent to English 101, freshman composition. The reason: perhaps the worst books I've ever read have been composition textbooks. It seems like comp professors--or those who pen comp/rhet texts--have the worst eyes and ears for what makes good writing. Or they might know what makes good writing, but they cannot do it themselves. I don't want to read those books, and I can't imagine any 17-25 year old college student wants to read them either. These texts are so dry, boring, formal, and disparaging of creativity. In lieu of a textbook I've been culling essays from websites or making photocopies or scanning into PDFs for reading, having class sessions where we play grammar games, etc., and running the class--essentially--as a creative nonfiction workshop. But I'm giving some thought to returning to a textbook. I'm so out of date, though (literally, I haven't used a textbook in about 5 years), that I don't know what might make good options.
Here are some examples of crappy composition textbooks: Wyrick's Steps to Writing Well, Rosa and Eschholz's Models for Writers, Lunsford's Everything's an Argument and The Everyday Writer. There are more that I've used and hated, but I don't feel like listing them all. A couple books (from one author, Bruce Ballenger) that I used to like using were The Curious Writer and The Curious Researcher. He seemed to have a more accessible style. But after 2 semesters or so he wore off on me also. This came about especially as a result of students not finding the writing engaging.
I will still use handbooks such as the Bedford, but don't always require that students buy them.
Anyway, anyone have any suggestions? I'm willing to try a textbook again. Textbooks make for less work on my end. Then again, it's not like it's problematic for me to keep reading contemporary lit, finding essays that I like in lit journals, and assigning those as readings for my comp students. Maybe the model I've been using for the last few years actually works.