1, 2, 3, 7, 9, definitely not 11, 18 but not 25, hell no to 26 or 33
May 12, 2015 11:38 PM   Subscribe

 
Umm, okay, sure. I recognize a lot of their names anyway.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:40 PM on May 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've read like a sixth of these. They were ok.
posted by aubilenon at 11:45 PM on May 12, 2015


I've read a lot of these, but the only one I currently "own" (as in have a copy in my possession) is Cryptonomicon. But I also have most of Neal Stephenson's other books as well, as well as most of William Gibson's stuff. I was upset there was no Tom Holt in the list.
posted by daq at 11:46 PM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


We have at least sixteen of these, although my husband is only personally responsible for fifteen, since the copy of Lolita is mine.
posted by skybluepink at 11:51 PM on May 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't get it. It seems like a random mix of popular and/or important and/or good books.
posted by Justinian at 11:56 PM on May 12, 2015 [81 favorites]


Godel, Escher, Bach is not a book all white men own. Heck, I work in software, where you'd expect more people to have read it, and people look at me like I have four heads if I bring it up.
posted by zachlipton at 11:57 PM on May 12, 2015 [34 favorites]


I'm 34, pops (he hates that) is 61. Guess who owns more of these including Shogun? Teh older one. Shogun reminds me of "Hai Karate" aftershave or whatever it was called. Even in youth it was an ironic aftershave by the 80s IIRC
posted by aydeejones at 11:58 PM on May 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I'm a little ashamed of myself for how few "important" books I've owned or even read... that list makes me PROUD.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:58 PM on May 12, 2015


Books That Literally All White Women Own: The Definitive List

1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

2. Emma, Jane Austen

3. Jane Eyre, Jane Austen

4. Skinny Bitch, Jane Austen

5. Delta of Venus, Jane Austen

8. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, Jane Austen

16. Play It As It Lays, Jane Austen

33. Twilight, Jane Austen

42. To Kill a Mockingbird, Jane Austen

56. Middlemarch, Jane Austen

66. The Bell Jar, Jane Austen

67. Interview with the Vampire, Jane Austen

68. Captain America fanfic, Emily Bronte

69. Bridget Jones's Diary, Jane Austen
posted by betweenthebars at 11:59 PM on May 12, 2015 [222 favorites]


7. The first two volumes of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin

54. The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan


It offends my sensibility that WoT is considered one work but SoIaF is broken up into multiple books.

I've read a fair portion of this list but own only two (GEB and GR). I get that it's supposed to be humorous, but it's woefully inaccurate.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 12:00 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Pops and I both own Godel Escher Bach but only one of us has "Switched on Bach" on cassette
posted by aydeejones at 12:02 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


um that captain america fanfic was by george eliot thank you very much
posted by NoraReed at 12:05 AM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


It's true it's true we're so lame!
posted by MoonOrb at 12:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


That's right. Because all white men are afficinados of Ayn Rand.
posted by dmt at 12:16 AM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


I really liked Bill Bryson before he got all serious.
posted by turbid dahlia at 12:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Joke's on whoever wrote this. I'm so privileged, I never even had to learn how to read.
posted by dogwalker at 12:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [27 favorites]


('All White American Men' I think is a bit closer though...literally nobody outside the US gives a shit about the Civil War.)
posted by turbid dahlia at 12:18 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


C'mon. No person of any gender or color owns both Jon Stewart and Ayn Rand.

I may own five of the books on the list, and have read probably ten more. Some of those I read under protest.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:24 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


um that captain america fanfic was by george eliot thank you very much

Middletown: A Study of Suburban Life, which nora reed linked to, is one of the best fanfics I've ever read.

The list in the OP did seem a little random. I couldn't figure out the point they were going for.
posted by not that girl at 12:25 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


16 of 79, and about a third of those are books I had to buy in college and the bookstore wouldn't buy back.
posted by klangklangston at 12:27 AM on May 13, 2015


7, 11, 44, 58, 60, none of the others...[looks at profile photo] Huh.

Never mind that 7 (Game of Thrones) has twin copies owned by my fiancee, or that 11 (Atlas Shrugged) was a perma-loan from the Objectivist girl I dated for 3 days in college...it's buried deep in a storage unit somewhere, but technically I "own" it.

44/58/60? Gun, Germs and Steel; Godel, Escher, and Bach; A Brief History of Time - these are all just generic intellectual books for smart people or pretending-to-be-smart people. Virtually everything on my bookshelves is either in this category or classic sci-fi (Asimov, Clark, Niven, etc.). Most of the women I've dated have read them, and the longer relationships almost universally enjoy them.

Mostly I'm surprised to not see Black Hawk Down on this list - it's by far the most stereotypically male book I own, and it's an incredibly informative read to boot.
posted by Ryvar at 12:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Definitely not SLOrtberg, no. I'm not really getting this. As mentioned by turbid dahlia, this seems rather American. That, and the text suggests that a more accurate title would be "Books That Literally All American White Men Own At Least One Of". So a list of the fifty best-selling, not-specifically-non-white, English-language books will do it then?

Does seem to make the assumption that all white men own at least one book. I'd love to be able to think that was a good assumption :(
posted by merlynkline at 12:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's a list that collectively is damning, but who's going to apologise for owning and loving A Confederacy of Dunces (a skewering of the white man's ego if ever there was one)? The reason the list doesn't skewer is that no one owns these collectively, and a select percentage of the whole is part of any person's collection of good novels.

I mean, if my bookshelves were literally these 79 books I'd feel a little bad...
posted by distorte at 12:35 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've read a fair portion of this list but own only two (GEB and GR). I get that it's supposed to be humorous, but woefully inaccurate.

It's got a lot of hits for me and not coincidentally, for my dad. It's funny how much of a Rorschach test this is, with people either getting defensive about liking these books or insisting that they would never touch any of them. Because it kind of comes down to a list of popular books written by white men. I think there are a lot of books you could add to this list that would make people go hmmm yeah that's another one.

Though, while there are certainly plenty of male Randroids - some famous ones - in my experience it's mostly women experience who are likely to say they like Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead. In my experience it seem to be almost exclusively women who ever like those books as books rather than as the cornerstone of a political philosophy.
posted by atoxyl at 12:41 AM on May 13, 2015


Nobody wants to be middlebrow.
posted by atoxyl at 12:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


It's missing The Handmaiden's Tale, The Shipping News and Joy Luck Club, but otherwise this is accurate.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dispatches, Michael Herr.
posted by distorte at 12:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I couldn't figure out the point they were going for.

With the singular exception of Ms. Rand, it's a lazy list of popular fiction written by men. Odd that Mein Kampf is missing.
posted by three blind mice at 12:53 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Heh, I just gave my battered old copy of Shogun to a friend for his birthday. He had never read it! Imagine that...
posted by ZipRibbons at 12:59 AM on May 13, 2015


Neither accurate nor funny. With so many great Toast pieces to choose from, this seems like weak sauce, not to mention needlessly divisive.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:59 AM on May 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


White US male, sixty.

I have one of these books here in my condo -- Infinite Jest -- and it is only here because I haven't sold it on eBay yet; it's a first edition in fair shape. (I know that there is huge DFW love here -- if you have to have it, I'll give it to you, but you can't go selling it.) It is to me an unreadable mess, written just after he got clean and sober but before he got on the right medications, or so it seems to me. I love him just tons, I ran at that book twice or maybe three times and then I walked at it once and then just gave it up.

That said, IJ contains the best writing I have ever seen, anywhere, on the chaotic, devastated lives of newly clean and sober people in rehabs and detoxes and 12 step meetings, and on the slow, slogging progress of rebuilding a life -- it's better than if he had a camera. He caught every detail, it's pitch-perfect, dead-on.

I own four of these on Audible, books I'd already read and love and it is to me a pleasure to be read to, a small luxury.

I have in the past owned and read probably fifteen or twenty of these. Twenty-five?

Four of these books I know by heart, I know that I am lucky that they found their way into my hands.

I like to read.

EDIT: And where in the hell is Huckleberry Finn? No Twain at all? This guy is on drugs, or should be...
posted by dancestoblue at 1:02 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Nobody wants to be middlebrow.

Patrick Bateman?
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:06 AM on May 13, 2015


Odd that Mein Kampf is missing.

Yeah. The author's obviously not in the loop. All White Men own a copy of Mein Kampf. By secret Aryan hivemind decree we keep them in our underground Nazi batcaves, on the shrine beneath opposing portraits of Hermann Goering and Kurt Cobain. Once a week we must Seig Heil down there amongst the stalactites, for at least five minutes, to recharge our rape culture. If we didn't the imperialist patriarchy would collapse in on itself and we would be drawn into the vortex. Our hideous true forms would be revealed and the screeching of our pornographically vulgar pig-voices would echo and fade into the void. All peoples of the world would dance in an infinite field of daises and rainbows, all tensions and animosities between the nations faded away like a summer dew. The festive carnivale of utopian joy would be the delight of all non-white-cis males, for at least three generations. After which the enlightened descendants of the celebrants would ascend to thier rightful place among the stars.


Also, Animal Farm.
posted by clarknova at 1:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [38 favorites]


Ummm, hello, The Unbearable Lightness of Being?

I got 32. Am paleface.
posted by amorphatist at 1:10 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


One could probably include several thousand more British white men by adding Andy McNab’s Bravo Two Zero and something from Jeremy Clarkson’s œuvre to this list. I’ve owned and/or read fifteen or so of them but only have one at the moment: my ’80s paperback edition of Gravity’s Rainbow.
posted by misteraitch at 1:11 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I own literally none of those books.

Well, not after my mansion burned down that is.

I sent my two menservants into the flames in hopes that they could save my treasured volumes, but to no avail.

They will be missed.

The books I mean, not the menservants. They were easily replaced.
posted by chillmost at 1:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [24 favorites]


10. I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, Tucker Max

I literally felt anger flare within me at the suggestion that I owned this. God, I love The Toast.
posted by No-sword at 1:22 AM on May 13, 2015 [31 favorites]


This guy is on drugs, or should be...

I'm fairly sure that Nicole Cliffe is not a "guy". Despite the overwhelmingly male authorship of books men own, not everything is, in fact, written by men.
posted by NoraReed at 1:32 AM on May 13, 2015 [28 favorites]


7. The first two volumes of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin: I own the first volume, didn't like it, sitting on a shelf somewhere.

15. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald: Like everyone else who owns it, forced to read it in school. Not bad for a book I was forced to read, but meh.

54. The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan: I probably own a few of these. I read a few of them
before getting bored of it.

57. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson: Owned it, liked a few hundred pages of it, man he needs to learn how to write an ending.

58. Godel, Escher, Bach, Douglas Hofstadter: Got given it as a gift, should really get around to reading it.

62. On the Road, Jack Kerouac: Was really expecting to like it, wound up hating it.

63. Lord of the Flies, William Golding: School book again, but actually liked it.

64. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien: Actually, come to think of it, I don't own a copy of this; while I like it, I've always bored one of my Dad's many copies.

69. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Yep, and for pleasure reading too.

70. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler: Yeah, was really expecting to like this as I love old fashioned detective stories. Came off as rather bland, luckily I found Rex Stout whom I far prefer.

So...what does that say? I own a bunch of popular books, or books I own from high school, plus some I enjoyed. Is this a bad thing? Does it say bad things that he can make a list of books that most white men have read? I don't get what he is going for, since there doesn't seem to be a unifying theme at all. Even among the ones I've read you've got 3 popular contemporary fiction books, five historical fiction books, a semi-fiction book about the beat generation, and whatever Godel, Escher, Bach is (as I said, gift, haven't read it yet.) The theme seems to be that I like fiction?
posted by Canageek at 1:36 AM on May 13, 2015


nobody outside the US gives a shit about the Civil War

Obviously, it will be much better known when the Captain America movie comes out next year.
posted by Grangousier at 1:42 AM on May 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


NoraReed: "Despite the overwhelmingly male authorship of books men own, not everything is, in fact, written by men."

I assumed it was a woman as I read it, but when I saw the "i own most of these books myself" tag I switched to assuming it was a man. It made more sense as failed self-referential humor than failed othering.

Also, where is To Kill a Mockingbird? And Mark Twain. Seriously, lots more white men own those than own Rich Dad Poor Dad or Who Moved My Cheese.
posted by Bugbread at 1:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


(And, yes, the FPP is an astonishingly lazy bit of troll-the-white-guys - a list of books wide-ranging enough that anyone in the target group might be expected to have at least one of them. One could get a similar effect for a different group by invoking The Color Purple and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It's accurate to the same extent and for the same reasons as newspaper horoscopes.)
posted by Grangousier at 1:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's really interesting to see reactions to this list, particularly by white males. Overwhelmingly it's either
1. Wait, I love this book and that book and this list isn't fair
or
2. This list isn't accurate because I don't have them all/have read things that are not on the list.

(non-white males sometimes contribute 3. UGH what awful books glad I haven't read them).

I mean, imagine if someone made a sweeping statement about a group you belonged to and you didn't feel it accurately portrayed you. How awful would that be, right?

I read the list and they all made sense to me; USian skewed but, yes, I get the list.
posted by AFII at 1:49 AM on May 13, 2015 [23 favorites]


Ctrl-F gaddis = 0
Ctrl-F portis = 0
Ctrl-F cheever = 0
Ctrl-F o'brian = 0

Hey white men! Yer doing it worng.
posted by chavenet at 2:01 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


AFII: "I mean, imagine if someone made a sweeping statement about a group you belonged to and you didn't feel it accurately portrayed you. How awful would that be, right?"

I don't get it. I mean, A) this list isn't (overall) particularly awful or insulting, and B) everyone knows that sweeping inaccurate statements annoy people. Are you saying this was a revelation to you, or are you under the impression this is a revelation to white men?
posted by Bugbread at 2:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [19 favorites]


Angela's Ashes? White women, maybe. Misery-lit is for girls, right?

[/tongue in cheek. No-one owns the right to read a book or genre.]

The British list would have to have Nick Hornby.

(Goes off to buy Shogun)
posted by alasdair at 2:07 AM on May 13, 2015


Also, people outside the USA will totally be interested in the Civil War if they've seen GONE WITH THE WIND. And really, everyone should see GONE WITH THE WIND. It's the best film ever.
posted by alasdair at 2:09 AM on May 13, 2015


Hey, I recognize all of these! They were in that gigabyte sized file I downloaded from the Pirate Bay labeled CLASSIC WHITE GUY EBOOKS.ZIP so I guess I "own" them now, too! I haven't read any of them, of course, because they were totes tl;dr.
posted by johnnyace at 2:10 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Huh. It might have been funny if it were shorter. When I first started to read it, I smiled since my father had a bunch of the first ones. But then it went on too long and mixed too many generations. Better to have titled it something like "books from your father's bookcase" or something, and kept it a lot shorter and maybe thrown in some Harold Robbins. Which presumably someone would read while listening to Herb Alpert.

Meh.
posted by frumiousb at 2:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Better to have titled it something like "books from your father's bookcase" or something, and kept it a lot shorter and maybe thrown in some Harold Robbins.

Yeah, to me it reads like "Books Your Parents Probably Own, If You Are A (White, Middle-Class) Millennial".
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro at 2:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yay a listicle on the interwebs! The point of which I don't get though... but because I can brag then I don't care if the joke's on me! 27!
posted by Pyrogenesis at 2:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Read 25, own about 15. But i think they're deluding themselves if they thing that all white men have read 80 books.

Also, for British men, add Alex Garland's The Beach
posted by DanCall at 2:38 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is Chicken Hawk on the list? I gave up halfway down...
posted by Samuel Farrow at 2:43 AM on May 13, 2015


This is a pretty weird list.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


As a white man, I have come to expect something better than this weak-sauce satire from people attempting to mock me.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


Shocking oversight.
posted by taz at 2:49 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Shocking oversight.

And no Bukowski either. This list is a sham.
posted by dng at 2:51 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


We, as a site, can do a better version of this joke.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:58 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


We can't even take the joke let alone top it.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:00 AM on May 13, 2015 [39 favorites]


What, no Sue Grafton?
posted by rhizome at 3:03 AM on May 13, 2015


Maybe all the mods are asleep.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 3:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


opposing portraits of Hermann Goering and Kurt Cobain

Just wanted to quote that, 'cos that image really tickled me.

I've read lots of these, and I'm not ashamed. Should I be? Damn sure I'd rather read Shogun than The Stand.

(To Kill a Mockingbird is missing, and probably more biting if this is supposed to be satire).
posted by Leon at 3:06 AM on May 13, 2015


I don't really get it. It's a list of bestsellers, seemingly cherrypicked to feature the macho (Fight Club, Ayn Rand, Lance Armstrong, Tom Clancy) and tar perfectly good books by association (Oliver Sacks, Lucky Jim, Sherlock Holmes). Plus a bunch of books people read in school that don't seem particularly sex-linked.

Here are more bestsellers, all under #1000 in Amazon rank, thus more popular than many of these books:

A People's History of the United States, Howard Zinn (#564)
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander (#139)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X (#652)
Yes Please, Amy Poehler (#119)
Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee (#9)
Kim Kardashian Selfish (#19)
Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty (#518)
X (Kinsey Millhone Mystery), Sue Grafton (#876)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, JK Rowling (#146)
Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosch (#688)
Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (#715)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou (#563)
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (#811)

Does that list mean anything more? Probably not, except to underline the weird cherrypicking.

I think the problem is that "(American) white men", though a big attractive target, is just not a homogenous enough group to make for great satire. Maybe "white men" is standing in for some funnier target?
posted by zompist at 3:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the premise that white men own 78 books is funny. The guys who read Tucker Max needed to be coached into owning a matching set of bedsheets, let alone cultivating a library.
posted by buoys in the hood at 3:10 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Only 78 books? How does a person live like that?
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:11 AM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


Maybe all the mods are asleep.

cortex was up all night reading his leather bound edition of the 9/11 Commission Report.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:13 AM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


Odd that Mein Kampf is missing.

HEH
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:15 AM on May 13, 2015


"It's a list that collectively is damning"

Damning in what way?

And what's the point of this article? It's on a humor website but it doesn't seem funny or anything. So, uh, what's the point?
posted by I-baLL at 3:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Imagine my alarm at discovering, via this list, that my mother is a white man.

The scales have fallen from my eyes. I shall be demanding an explanation in the morning. I'm not angry... just disappointed.


Also, if Portnoy's Complaint is under my bed I will be very, very annoyed.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well done Toast, your click rate must be going through the roof.

Now I dare you to try the same thing, but with black men.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [24 favorites]


Metafilter: what's the point?
posted by Samuel Farrow at 3:18 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: Now I dare you to try the same thing, but with black men.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:19 AM on May 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


But these are the books that literally everyone ha ... WHOA! I see what they did there. Mind blown. This changes everything.

(I've got 24 of them if you count ones owned by the missus too. What's interesting about the list is how well it crosses the Atlantic, there are many fewer Americans-only titles that I'd have expected from something like this.)
posted by Mocata at 3:19 AM on May 13, 2015


BOOKS LITERALLY EVERY WHITE MAN OWNS

- OWNER'S MANUAL FOR 1993 HONDA'S ACCORD EX SEDAN
- THE NEW TESTAMENT (1582 SLOVENE TRANSLATION BY PRIMOŽ TRUBAR, ET AL.)
- I AM A MANLY-MANLY-MAN WHO EMITS THE WARM AND SEPTIC BREEZE OF HIDEOUS MAN-STENCH, BY ANDY ROONEY
- HOW TO GRADUALLY, LITERALLY, PHYSICALLY TURN YOUR ENEMIES INTO LEOPARDS, MERELY THROUGH THE USE OF MAGIC POTIONS POURED INTO THEIR LIPS AS THEY SLEEP, OVER THE COURSE OF SEVERAL YEARS, AS ALL THE WHILE YOU DECEPTIVELY PURR TO THEM, "OH DEAR, WHO COULD POSSIBLY BE TURNING YOU INTO A LEOPARD, OH MY, THAT TRULY IS A MYSTERY", BY TUCKER MAX
- ME, BY KATHARINE HEPBURN
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [60 favorites]


I'm awake! I can see a bunch of these books from where I'm sitting right now. My calculations reveal that I'm probably at least 50% white male. Though betweenthebars' list reveals that I'm also nearly 100% white female. Feeling conflicted.
posted by taz at 3:21 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I thought this list was pretty weak, but it does give me a good opportunity to remember that time in college when I was super into The Basketball Diaries and I bought my girlfriend a copy of it and she said "Every man gives me this book" and then we were not actually dating that long after that.
posted by escabeche at 3:24 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


58. Godel, Escher, Bach, Douglas Hofstadter: Got given it as a gift, should really get around to reading it.

Let me save you some time by telling you how it ends. Basically, it ends with you not reading it. Best to make your peace with that now.
posted by biffa at 3:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [57 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that my wife has read more of these than I have and most of the ones that I have read were high school assignments.
posted by octothorpe at 3:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine once received from her ex Serj Tankian's book of poetry. "See? It combines your love of poetry with my love of System of a Down." It's not a very good book, but it's nice to see people trying to build bridges.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


So at the risk of killing a joke by explaining it, the list implies that men will read books for one of several reasons.

1. Because they were forced to in school. (Catcher in the Rye, Great Gatsby)
2. They absorbed that these titles embody masculinity in some way, sort of like how every white male goes through a Led Zeppelin phase. (On the Road)
3. Because they want to be the kind of person who reads classic literature, but shy away from anything that they mostly see being red by their moms and their older sisters, so they gravitate over to edgy titles like Lolita.
4. Because they think there's a shortcut to being smart (Art of War, Freakonomics.)
5. Reading for actual pleasure. (Tucker Max)

It works because most peoples tastes are shaped a lot more by conformity and being averse to taking up a book that they aren't already pretty sure they'll enjoy, since reading is a pretty big time investment. And we're all kind of embarrassed at least a little by things we read growing up that we thought were awesome at the time.

Joke buried.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [53 favorites]


Yep, there's a lot of crappy books on there, books that were transformative (but limited, strangely enough, to books read in school, as if no growth ever took place afterwards), and pretentious books. The stereotypical white male is a terrible reader.

It's not a list of clever recognition of some universal truth, it's mockery of the stereotype.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 3:32 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a list - we can comment on it forever (maybe not actual forever) - the framing was good though, plate of beans good. And it mentions a lot of literature that changed people's lives.

Doesn't need another list.

It's also a joke.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 3:32 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


(maybe not actual forever)

Hi, I see you're new here. Let me introduce you around....


There are several more glaring omissions from the list - Ender's Game, Dune, any James Bond novel, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance...
posted by GhostintheMachine at 3:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


(maybe not actual forever)

I'd give it around 30 days.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:54 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nicole needs to meet more white men who did not major in the liberal arts. My husband's book collection is actually not inconsiderable but mostly consists of (a) low-carb diet books; (b) guides to hiking, biking, and other outdoor adventures; (c) how to fix practically everything; (d) pictures of stars.
posted by drlith at 3:54 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's a weird mix of high school/college required reading, widely-beloved landmarks, middlebrow fare that was hyper-trendy at one point, The Book of the Film, a smattering of geek chic, and a few "edgy"/douchebag-lit turds. It feels pretty trollish, reeling people in with a handful of authors lots of people cherish (Vonnegut, Wallace, Tolkien) and then putting them in the company of garbage hackwork like Tom Friedman and Ayn Rand and Tucker Max, and then wrapping the whole thing with an inherently inflammatory race/gender headline, implying one only finds Steinbeck or McCarthy worthwhile because one shares their skin color and Y chromosome. It's nominally sexist/racist in the vein of "X people Y like this!," but fails as a clever reversal of that trope because the choices are too tonally broad to have any insightful commonality. Like making a list of "TV That Literally All White Men Love" that includes The Wire, Lost, Teen Wolf, Two and a Half Men, and Brickleberry.

Also, serious eye-rolling at some of the commenters over there, falling over themselves to snidely ridicule any perceived white male who criticizes the article about white males as an arrogant mansplaining Other:

* You have such a fine grasp of the subtleties of human communication. Please tell us more about your deep insights into literature; I literally can't wait to hear them.
* toastie-mods, a couple of ~them~ are getting through the crocodile stocked moat and forcefield of misandry
* Girls! Girls! It's a ~man~, right here in our very own living room! Maybe if we're ever so good, he'll explain literature to us, and then we can compete to see who'll get to bring him a cup of coffee. Oh, I haven't been so excited in I don't know how long!
* please explain more things everyone is listening

Almost like teeing up dismissive "zingers" like that were the whole point of the exercise. I realize The Toast is a proudly feminist blog, but feminism is about more than taking lazy, passive-aggressive potshots at the menz. More "stories of fascinating and brilliant women," fewer stereotype-laden clickbait listicles, pls.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [48 favorites]


Has anyone mentioned Ian M Banks yet?
posted by Samuel Farrow at 3:56 AM on May 13, 2015


One more: Patrick O'Brian.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 3:58 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Should I be putting them in a list?
posted by Samuel Farrow at 3:58 AM on May 13, 2015


Has anyone mentioned Ian M Banks yet?

The Cyclops?
posted by biffa at 4:04 AM on May 13, 2015


There was a funny post a while back about what your favorite author says about you. One of the better one-liners from it was something like, "CHUCK PALAHNIUK: You don't like to read." That one line does a better version of this joke than this whole list does. (I say that as somebody who even basically likes Chuck Palahniuk.)

A funnier list would have sorted out the various species of white men and given them each three books apiece to define them. The biggest problem with this list is that, as far as stereotypes go, there is no one single white man stereotype to play with. The Tucker Max / Chuck Palahniuk school of readers is very different from the Shogun / Zen & The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance school of readers, both of which are quite different from the Clancy/Cussler school of "airplane reading for dads", all of which in turn is very different from the Freakonomics school of "very common non-fiction books which are read even by non-readers". The Max/Palahniuk crowd includes overbearingly sarcastic college students and bartenders. The Shogun/Zen crowd would be more like your "cool" guidance counselor, or an absentee dad who tries to explain your parents' divorce by handing you one of their dog-eared tomes*. Clancy/Cussler stuff is for middle-aged men on planes and beaches. And as for books like Freakonomics, that stuff just gets passed around a lot, especially by people who do not self-identify as readers of books.

And then there are the bizarrely out-of-touch cultural references. I don't know anybody who owns any Thomas Friedman books. The only person I know with Exodus was my late grandma. Why wasn't American Psycho originally on there? That's the lowest-hanging of the lowest-hanging fruit. And also, why isn't there any P. J. O'Rourke on there, or David Sedaris?

And how the hell did The Tin Drum wind up in here? Like, what's the joke?

Where's Mark Bowden, or H. P. Lovecraft, or William S. Burroughs, or Henry Miller?

And all that's not even getting into how many of these books are not only widely read by people who are not white men, but how also many of these books are, in my experience, read proportionately less by modern-day white men. Like, I know many women who have read Lolita. I don't think I've ever had a conversation with another man about it, and yet somehow I've had multiple conversations with multiple women about how it was their first Famously Dirty Book.**

(I mean, I brought up Henry Miller, and yet the same thing applies there as well. All the people I know who actively like Henry Miller are women, with the exception of my late dad.)

IMHO, the only genuinely witty one on this list is Beowulf, the Seamus Heaney translation. The cover alone! It comes the closest to being the sort of book which wends its way even onto the shelves of people who would not ordinarily read epic Old English poetry. And yet, it's also a perfectly good book, and I would rather read it again, or give it to somebody who might like it, than congratulate myself for knowing that a relatively high proportion of white men own it.

I mean, John Updike and Chuck Palahniuk are also decent entries, but those jokes are too obvious to really count. Besides, Updike hasn't really been all that culturally relevant for a while.




*A cookie to anyone who can identify the romantic comedy I'm referencing here.

**TMI alert! I lost my virginity to the Ennio Morricone score to Lyne's Lolita. She was the one who put it on. Great score.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:08 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Nicole needs to meet more white men who did not major in the liberal arts.

why would you ever wish meeting more white men on someone who felt the need to write this list? it's just cruel
posted by NoraReed at 4:08 AM on May 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


This thread is so great.

Please the rage at a silly list continue as it is brightening a grimdark morning. She left out the RPGs, by the way. I imagine most white men have at least one player's guide to D&D. The 'highbrow' ones prolly also have Nobilis.
posted by winna at 4:09 AM on May 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


Almost like teeing up dismissive "zingers" like that were the whole point of the exercise. I realize The Toast is a proudly feminist blog, but feminism is about more than taking lazy, passive-aggressive potshots at the menz.

A majority-women comment base hanging out together and making snarky jokes at interlocutors may not actually be "doing feminism" at that moment, so their falling short of some ideal of what feminists should be up to is missing the mark of why people are there in the first place.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:10 AM on May 13, 2015 [33 favorites]


I imagine most white men have at least one player's guide to D&D.

You are...vastly, vastly overestimating the popularity of RPGs.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:12 AM on May 13, 2015 [29 favorites]


Here in my garage, just bought this new Lamborghini here, fun to drive up here in the Hollywood Hills. But you know what I like a lot more than materialistic things? Knowledge. In fact, I'm a lot more proud of these seven new bookshelves that I had to get installed to hold two thousand new books that I bought. It's like the billionaire Warren Buffet says, the more you learn, the more you earn.
posted by fungible at 4:13 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


The Tucker Max / Chuck Palahniuk school of readers is very different from the Shogun / Zen & The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance school of readers

This is the same dude, five years later. And since he doesn't own that many books, his older tastes are still on display.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


> "The 'highbrow' ones prolly also have Nobilis."

... And you are even more vastly overestimating the popularity of Nobilis. Rather than finding it a staple of the highbrow, I have been hard-pressed to find other human people who have even heard of it.
posted by kyrademon at 4:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is the same dude, five years later. And since he doesn't own that many books, his older tastes are still on display.

This, right here, is a much better joke than anything in the original post.

Sidenote: I went to college in the year 2000. Invisible Monsters was assigned reading in a high number of freshman comp courses. Even as somebody who basically likes Chuck Palahniuk, and even as an 18-year-old, I thought that was a weird fuckin' move.

Sidenote to the sidenote: People who like Chuck Palahniuk should read Amy Hempel.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:21 AM on May 13, 2015


Hmmm...I only have four titles out of all of those. Apparently, I am neither white, nor male. I'll just go sit over there, and re-read Vurt.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:23 AM on May 13, 2015


There is no science fiction, fantasy, RPG, or dumbass pop philosophy on my white male shelves. Nor Hostadter. Yet I own thousands of books. (Academics read books for the job.)

Weak tea for an FPP. Too dumb to be offensive.
posted by spitbull at 4:25 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Let me save you some time on Godel, Escher, Bach.

There is a thing called recursion. It means defining things in reference to themselves! So, the Sierpinski triangle is recursive, for example. You can also add numbers together with a recursive list rule.
f () = 0
f (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) = 1 + f (2, 3, 4, 5)
That's pretty much it.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Reminded me of this.
posted by spitbull at 4:28 AM on May 13, 2015


White people read like *this*, but black people read like *this*, right?
posted by kcds at 4:31 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Admittedly, I have owned or read about half the fiction on this list...less of the nonfiction... and the list does get at a certain obnoxiousness in a satisfying way. Other good choices would've been Douglas Adams, Moneyball, Hunter Thompson, Last Exit to Brooklyn, something by William Burroughs or Charles Bukowski, Howard Zinn. I don't believe Bonfire of the Vanities has been on dudes' bookshelves for a couple of decades now. I am baffled by The Tin Drum, which I did not know anyone read or pretended to read.

In my experience, all white women own Middlesex and something by Toni Morrison with an unbroken spine
posted by batfish at 4:34 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Another example of a list passing for journalism.
posted by Flood at 4:34 AM on May 13, 2015


I cannot believe this is the same website that published pictures of Aristotle being ridden like a horse.

I guess I always thought Mallory Ortberg was a pseudonymous group author, and that everyone over there sort of pitched in.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:36 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Though, while there are certainly plenty of male Randroids - some famous ones - in my experience it's mostly women experience who are likely to say they like Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead. In my experience it seem to be almost exclusively women who ever like those books as books rather than as the cornerstone of a political philosophy.

Could it not be because they are the finest Harlequin Romance novels that Harlequin never published?
posted by fairmettle at 4:38 AM on May 13, 2015


Based on the white guy who lives here, that list is missing books about Walt Disney, books about Disney history, books about Disney parks and books about Pixar. The only book from the list I know for sure that he's read is the Stand, and we don't own that. We actually don't own a lot of books because I am a librarian, and it makes me itchy to spend money on them.

(Looking at the two younger white guys in this house would add lots of Terry Pratchett and John Greene to this list.)
posted by Biblio at 4:38 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's a list of books...

"I have 93% of them!"

...that all white men have.


"I have 3 of them but the Man made me get them and I could never get rid of them ever!"

It's a test to see how reactive to being called middlebrow you are.

"Shrug, I have like 20. No biggie."

It's a speed reading test.

"3.4 seconds."
posted by ian1977 at 4:42 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yes, I own some of the books on this list. But only the good ones, mind you.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of the great lessons of discussion boards at the now defunct Fametracker was that list posts are boring. If you put together a list of ten books you would like to have on a desert island or twenty songs that changed popular music forever or whatever, unless you provide a sentence or three in support of why each of these has been chosen, it is as dull as reading the phone book.

What we have here is step one for an amusing article. There is probably some decent comedy to be mined on why _______ is so frequently seen on bookshelves even if it is rarely read ("Infinite Jest, this is Godel, Escher, Bach. You guys know each other, right?") but this list is really underwhelming. I have been a white man since just after I stopped being a white boy decades ago and I have maybe eighteen of these in the 7000 or so books in the house. And several of the authors are a much bigger deal on the shelves of friends and relatives who check one or zero of the white and male boxes.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sidenote to the sidenote: People who like Chuck Palahniuk should read Amy Hempel.

As an antidote, or as an enhancer?

(serious question -- never heard of her that I recall, and I'm a middling fan of Palahniuk)
posted by Etrigan at 4:46 AM on May 13, 2015


I feel like when I try to envision the type of men this list is summarizing, a lot of what comes to mind is dudes who definitely do not own 79 books.
posted by obfuscation at 4:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: Now I dare you to try the same thing, but with black men.

Alex Haley's biography of Malcolm X?
Pimp by Iceberg Slim
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown
Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver
Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosely
The Art of Mackin by Tariq Nasheed
Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 cent and the Rise of the Hip Hop Huster by Ethan Brown
Makes Me Wanna Holler by Nathan McCall
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:53 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


What we have here is step one for an amusing article

But more than enough steps for obnoxious clickbait!
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:54 AM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


The only thing I remember my mom reading while I grew up was Clan of the Cave Bear. The impetus to read lots of other books, though (Stephen King stuff, GEB, Infinite Jest) - and, by extension, my subsequent taste in literature - came from various women in my life. The men for the most part didn't read.
posted by grumpybear69 at 4:55 AM on May 13, 2015


Is this where I'm supposed to feel guilty about the accident of my skin colour and gender again? Save me a seat at the back of the literary bus, I just need to dash into the book store.
posted by walrus at 4:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Toast is nearly indistinguishable from any other link bait site. So much for long-form articles.
posted by clvrmnky at 4:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Drinks Die and kyrademon, I love you both for immediately schooling me on how no one reads RPGs.

It made my day!
posted by winna at 4:57 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Read or owned 31, egads. They should have had The Dice Man on there, and probably The Magus and one Larry McMurtry novel.
posted by smoke at 4:58 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


A majority-women comment base hanging out together and making snarky jokes at interlocutors may not actually be "doing feminism" at that moment, so their falling short of some ideal of what feminists should be up to is missing the mark of why people are there in the first place.

actually if you look at the data you can plainly see that the erosion of the right to abortion in America is mostly down to the comments section of Amelia Happ-Jarkley's "100 Internet Comments Every White Man Has Made" on The Hairpin
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:05 AM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


I liked this list because it reminded me to go back and read Lucky Jim again.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 5:13 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Not owning #1 sort of reduces the list's credibility for me right off the bat. I think I *might* own a James Clavell novel, but not that one. Does having watched the mini-series back in 1980 count?
posted by Gelatin at 5:15 AM on May 13, 2015


Peter McDermott--list needs more Donald Goines.

Also, I'm mixed and own about half these. Seems about right.
posted by holybagel at 5:16 AM on May 13, 2015


Read as a whole, the list is a moderately funny commentary on the reading choices a lot of white men will make: more often than not Big Important Books that will look handsome on one's bookshelf and hopefully speak volumes about the intellectual prowess of the book's owner, while still being mainstream enough to not be too terribly challenging, with some titles adding a dash of edgy irreverence thrown in for good measure, and nearly all of them written by other white men.

In other words I don't get a lot of the reflexive defensiveness in this thread. The "literally" part of the title is a joke.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:19 AM on May 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


All white men own 79 books? I know several who think bookcases are video storage.
posted by Segundus at 5:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


All white men own 79 books? I know several who think bookcases are video storage.

I'm all digital for books and video, bookshelves are for displaying beer glasses.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:23 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The "literally" part of the title is a joke.

OK. But is it literally a joke?
posted by thelonius at 5:26 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I originally thought the list was funny because, sure, I've dated men with basically that bookshelf. (Also my dad mostly has that bookshelf). I now think the list is funny because of how defensive people get when a joke post suggests that they all own Gravity's Rainbow and Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
posted by thivaia at 5:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


In other words I don't get a lot of the reflexive defensiveness in this thread. The "literally" part of the title is a joke.

I think the bulk of the joke is the reflexive defensiveness that that "literally" provokes. I mean, FFS, all the people who are like "I own 25,000 books and I only have like three of these! You can't pin me down with your listicle, Mallory Ortberg!" Sheesh, people, we get it, everyone's a special snowflake.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


I own 49 copies of The Lord of the Flies, and The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. Do I win a man prize.
posted by echocollate at 5:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


When Gunter Grass died, several people I assumed were middlebrow readers popped up on my Facebook feed with comments about The Tin Drum. Maybe this a phenomenon that's isolated to a certain portion of the U.S. or one college?
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:34 AM on May 13, 2015


atoxyl: "people either getting defensive"

Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane: "I don't get a lot of the reflexive defensiveness in this thread"

thivaia: "I now think the list is funny because of how defensive people get"

Pope Guilty: "If you are upset about this post then you are the joke, laugh at yourself because you warrant laughing at."

Halloween Jack: "I think the bulk of the joke is the reflexive defensiveness that that "literally" provokes."

All you people talking about defensiveness: what comments are you referring to? I see a lot of people saying it's bad satire, but that doesn't read like defensiveness, it reads more like the opposite. The list is stuck in this weird grey zone of being neither satirical nor accurate. Like making a post satirizing evangelical Christians for using bookmarks or preferring mineral water to milk. It's not defensiveness, it's...puzzlement.
posted by Bugbread at 5:37 AM on May 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


I think the bulk of the joke is the reflexive defensiveness that that "literally" provokes.

So, it's a deliberately provocative posting made with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them?
posted by Drinky Die at 5:39 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wait, no, I found a few defensive comments that I had overlooked. Still, I'd say this thread is 90% people saying "Huh?" 5% getting defensive and 5% saying the list is great.
posted by Bugbread at 5:40 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Read as a whole, the list is a moderately funny commentary on the reading choices a lot of white men will make: more often than not Big Important Books that will look handsome on one's bookshelf and hopefully speak volumes about the intellectual prowess of the book's owner, while still being mainstream enough to not be too terribly challenging, with some titles adding a dash of edgy irreverence thrown in for good measure, and nearly all of them written by other white men.

Ah, yes. A sniff of literary pretentiousness crossed with a soupçon of Women's Studies 101.
posted by echocollate at 5:40 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


[It's fine for people to have the reactions they have and comment on them; any list is going to get criticism and picky analysis here, and one that's attempting satire about a specific group, even more so. It would be better to leave off scolding people who don't like it for whatever reason, and if we need to talk about if that's a problem, Metatalk would be the place. Thanks.]
posted by taz (staff) at 5:43 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ardus O'Malley: The Man Who Hit Men
Deconstructing Hawkwind Mythology
Chilton's Repair Guide: 1971-73 AMC Hornet
Class Three Head Trauma: Do's And Don'ts
posted by griphus at 5:43 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


The Stranger
Steppenwolf
Maurice
Tales of the City
Dhalgren
The Swimming-Pool Library
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 5:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, no Joseph Campbell or James A. Michener? No Foundation series?? Shenanigans!
posted by echocollate at 5:54 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Mostly I'm surprised to not see Black Hawk Down on this list - it's by far the most stereotypically male book I own, and it's an incredibly informative read to boot.

That is indeed an obvious miss.

I've read many, if not most, of the books on the list, though I own very few. I think it is a bit generationally confused -- Shogun might resonate with men older than me, but it is unlikely to be even known by someone just graduating from college. It looks to me like a list compiled by someone whose dad or exboyfriends graduated from a liberal arts college in about 1990, buttressed by more recent middlebrow-ish titles.

I get the joke and, as a white guy who isn't far off that description, can see where I overlap with it. As others have said, as humor it could have been much better done by tightening the list or focusing it better -- as-is, it is jumbled and tries to capture something broader than what really works.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:55 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've scrolled over this (long!) thread a few times and I'm not sure what I've been looking for.

I think it's, I keep hoping someone will explain the joke! Maybe, as some have suggested, the joke is the defensive reaction people have to getting stereotyped this way, which is kind of funny although a little mean.

Otherwise, hm! The other thing you're usually supposed to get out of these lists is, like, the shock of recognition. Oh yeah, I know that guy! And maybe: He is definitely a type, and not the fierce individual he thinks he is! But, I don't know. There are maybe too many items on this list for that to really hit home?

There is definitely a certain dudeliness about the list (seems like the only woman on the list is Rand?). On average these are probably books with male-skewed readership, although not universally so. But I don't think it's quite working for me.

I've read about 17 of the books on the list, of which one was just awful, a couple are pretty good, and about 14 are just fantastic, among my favorites. Among the ones I haven't read, there are several more that I suspect of being mediocre-to-crap, and a few I suspect are awesome (but I've been around long enough that, if a book is mega-popular and I haven't read it, there's a decent chance I wouldn't like it -- I've already read a lot of the ones I think I'll like).

I am not surprised if you've seen these books on a lot of dudes' shelves, although I suspect there is a lot of cultural specificity, too. Maybe this person lives in New York or something. Maybe not a stretch to think this especially applies to younger dudes in conformist youth-culture enclaves. (Or maybe that's flat wrong! Get off my lawn!)

Anyway, no reason to think too hard about any single humor listicle, but for this one I'm still trying to puzzle out (1) why it's funny, (2) why it got posted to the blue and (3) why there is a 150-comment thread about it.
posted by grobstein at 5:57 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wait, Black Hawk Down is an actual book? I thought Ryvar was making a joke about how Alan Dean Foster has made a novelization of every man-movie in existence.
posted by Bugbread at 5:59 AM on May 13, 2015


I only own maybe six of these. (Not entirely sure, I had some books in the basement that were molding that I threw out a couple of weeks ago, there might have been a Steinbeck in there.)

But I'm familiar with the "elevator speech" behind the majority of these. A lot of these are little bits of cultural shorthand that comfortable businessmen can mention to each other and share a knowing look, without having to think about the issue at hand too much. Who moved my cheese?

The list as a whole does draw a picture of a certain type of person: male, probably born around 1950, young adult in the 1970s, now a successful person in management in an insurance company in Des Moines, still active but looking forward to retirement. Several of the books seem dated, but this guy has put in at least a little effort in keeping up--from his point of view. A couple are mildly edgy, but in a way that's sanctioned by mainstream culture.

Note carefully, though: owning books is not the same as having actually read them (much less understanding them, disagreeing with them, and so on). Many of these might be hardbacks with very slightly torn dust jackets, on display in the fake cherry bookcase in the den. Their job is to communicate to visitors that the owner reads things, and keeps up with mainstream publishing culture. Like other commenters have said, there are a lot of people in Middle America who never read anything.

I do the same thing, just with a very different list of books, and with different goals for the things I'm trying to communicate.

The next question I'd have: is this a list of "man books" that support a certain kind of masculine culture? I'd tend to think mostly yes, although one could pick and argue at some individual titles. But there are an awful lot of little boy stories dressed up as big boys in there.
posted by gimonca at 6:01 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I guess I don't get the joke. This article is stupid. And the headline is totally misleading. A list of 79 books and white guys own at least "one." I could make 79 item long lists of lots of things and generalize who would own one of them. The writer of this article is an idiot.

Or, its just provocative wanna be viral crap, which is worse than being an idiot.
posted by marxchivist at 6:01 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I get the joke, and didn't think it was super funny, but I'm surprised how many people here are taking is seriously.
posted by josher71 at 6:02 AM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


josher71: "I get the joke, and didn't think it was super funny, but I'm surprised how many people here are taking is seriously."

I think the lack of funny is directly responsible for that. I would imagine a similar list made by a more talented Toast writer (Ortberg, et al) would have gotten a very, very different reaction.
posted by Bugbread at 6:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


This has a lot in common with my list of "Books Men Encouraged Me to Read When We Were in Our Twenties." The high school version has more Castaneda.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


I think the lack of funny is directly responsible for that

I suppose so. It seemed like a joke premise on its face to me but I can see why others might not think so.
posted by josher71 at 6:08 AM on May 13, 2015


40 and married here. Off the top of my head: 2, 3, 6, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 34, 40, 47, 56, 63, 72

I'll confess that the list was a bit longer before my then-girlfriend moved in and we combined our bookshelves, necessitating a bit of a purge for both of us.
posted by emelenjr at 6:10 AM on May 13, 2015


Also, no Joseph Campbell

I'm not going to read the linked list—I'm a white guy, I have people to read lists for me—but this is a huge huge credibility-destroying omission. I spent one of my college summer vacays doing nothing but reading Joseph Campbell. And I mean, really, Campbell is pretty the much the Ur-Guy here: brilliant, but not as brilliant as he thinks he is, totalizing (everything is an aspect of what he's interested in), and absolutely certain. He even taught at a women's college and married one of his students. Good heavens, that alone should have put him on the list. Sadly, one is forced to conclude that this author just doesn't know manly books as well as she thinks she does.

And we're all kind of embarrassed at least a little by things we read growing up that we thought were awesome at the time.

I'm not. Not even by Joseph Campbell.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


This thread is a gift.
posted by kmz at 6:21 AM on May 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


I'll confess, I own exactly one of those books and that's because The Lord of the Rings was given to me as a gift when I was in middle school. To be honest I don't think I've read most of those books either, like most of them just never really appealed to me.
posted by ilama at 6:21 AM on May 13, 2015


People who hate this are probably also mystified at Letterman's Top Ten List of numbers under 10.
posted by Etrigan at 6:24 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is probably the most drama Nicole Cliffe has caused since she was a judge in the Tournament of Books and said she read the hardest novel in the tournament twice but then also confessed to having mommy brain, inspiring arguments all around about how she must have not read read the book, but only like mommy-brain read it.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:24 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wrote a fan letter to Douglas Hofstadter
posted by shothotbot at 6:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


> "Drinks Die and kyrademon, I love you both for immediately schooling me on how no one reads RPGs. It made my day!"

Have ... have I just been pwned?

Because I think I just got totally pwned.
posted by kyrademon at 6:31 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


This thread is like when a Chinese news agency treats an article from the Onion like real news.
posted by gwint at 6:32 AM on May 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


If this was some kind of "how white male are you" test it's nice to know I can never be considered sexist or racist again. I knew, of course, but now there's proof.
posted by jfuller at 6:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is one of those threads where pointing out that the cartoonish stereotype doesn't apply to you comes off as #NotAllMen and the best course of action is to not comment at all. Instead: retire to your leather club chair, pour yourself two fingers of Lagavulin 16, put Stone Flowers on your Technics Mark II and peruse the latest edition of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


She left off "The Celestine Prophecy". Although unctuous new agey ponytail men aren't really represented on this list at all.

I don't get the GEB hate. I mean, it's completely bloated, but Gödel's Theorem is legitimately profound and takes a long time to explain. It is certainly deeper than just recursion.

I agree it was a curious choice for this list. Where are you guys that everybody has read it? Is there like a whole subculture of people with a misguided enthusiasm not just for theoretical physics, but also for abstract mathematics? Was it mysteriously more popular in the 90s? Maybe it's really popular in Illinois?
posted by vogon_poet at 6:35 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


has it occurred to anyone that nicole included the tag about how she owns most of these books for a reason? like that this is such a generic list that everyone, white men included, has some portion of this list? that maybe just maybe that's the joke?
posted by nadawi at 6:36 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


> "Drinks Die and kyrademon, I love you both for immediately schooling me on how no one reads RPGs. It made my day!"

Have ... have I just been pwned?

Because I think I just got totally pwned.


It was at least a Category 7 Double Pwnzing.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:38 AM on May 13, 2015


also, why are people referring to this as mallory ortberg's work? are you not aware that the toast has different authors? that ortberg is a person? i am so confused by this whole thread.
posted by nadawi at 6:39 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think people just brainskipped over the "not" in the FPP.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:40 AM on May 13, 2015


I've never spent much time reading The Toast but is it just a BuzzFeed clone? That makes it easier for me to know which links to skip in the future.
posted by koavf at 6:41 AM on May 13, 2015


Also also two other Major League White Guys, Bill Moyers, press secretary to el supremo White Guy, LBJ, and George Friggin' Lucas, Lord of Lords among White Guys, are Joseph Campbell fanboys. My stars! Joseph Campbell is practically the Kevin Bacon of White Guy Authors. And he's not on the list? #ladiesjustdontunderstand
posted by octobersurprise at 6:41 AM on May 13, 2015


they think Ortberg is the ur-woman and all misandry must come from her mighty self
posted by NoraReed at 6:41 AM on May 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


maybe reading nicole cliffe's twitter over the last 18 hours or so will clue people in to what they're missing?
posted by nadawi at 6:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure how I feel on this one - i own four books on this list, but two were gifted to me. The only ones i've actually purchased are Slaughterhouse-Five and the Stand.
posted by Fuka at 6:44 AM on May 13, 2015


Books literally everyone owns but has never finished:

1. A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking
posted by yhbc at 6:47 AM on May 13, 2015


Actually, looking back, as far as I can tell nobody has seriously said it was Ortberg.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


A sniff of literary pretentiousness crossed with a soupçon of Women's Studies 101.

Hey, thanks, I do what I can. I appreciate this thoughtful response.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


that maybe just maybe that's the joke?

It's not a very good joke, is the problem. It's just a bunch of muddled half-ironies. Either actually go after your satirical target(s), or make a (good) joke about the absurdity of the idea, or *something*.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:49 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Well, very very mild mocking is very similar to systemic racism, and also this article killed feminism. So I understand the opprobrium.
posted by kmz at 6:49 AM on May 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


Maybe this is a generational thing? I've definitely read a good number of these books, but I read this list and thought "yeah, that's pretty accurate to my experience." This is a pretty good representation of the books that boys/men tried to get me to read between the ages of about 15-30, usually to prove to me how cool and smart they were. I (mostly) mean that with affection.

I do think it represents a pretty narrow section -- this is a list for men who grew up middle class in the suburbs, mostly -- but since those are mostly the men I was around, well ... it works for me.

I don't see it as mean-spirited, personally. But then I see where the joke is coming from. To each his/her own, I guess.

(List is severely lacking in Watchmen, though. Maybe Maus. The two comics that are "worthy" enough to be on shelf with regular books.)
posted by darksong at 6:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


i thought it was a great joke, with a big part of the humor being the huffy response to it.
posted by nadawi at 6:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [23 favorites]


By the way, my idea for the Mefi April 1 prank was to change all the user names to Mallory Ortberg. Now that I've spilled the beans (BEANS!), I guess we can't do this next year.
posted by taz at 6:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


This piece suddenly got way more interesting now that all of us white people have shown up to criticize the author for characterizing our taste as middling.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Not sure what to do with this info. Do I get a key to the executive washroom if I buy them all? I own, like, three of them, but I've read 17. Ok, 16, but I've read the first three chapters of Gravity's Rainbow 10 times, so that counts, right?
posted by punchee at 6:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


On failing to preview, what nadawi said basically.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:52 AM on May 13, 2015


Meh.
posted by Foosnark at 6:52 AM on May 13, 2015


I'm more interested in the omission of "straight" from the title and what it says about the underlying tensions between gay men and feminists.

Like that bit in Shaun if the Dead when Daisy's group passed Tim's group and they were like identical and shit but at the same time different.

Wait, what?

Why are you giving me the look again?

Whaaaat?
posted by fullerine at 6:53 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oops I went back and double checked and I have given away my Cryptonomicon.
posted by bukvich at 6:54 AM on May 13, 2015


I think my main annoyance with this is the abuse of "literally." But that grammatical fight has been lost I'm afraid.
posted by Foosnark at 6:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also also also Campbell was connected to Favorite White Guy Author John Steinbeck through Ed Ricketts (sensitive white guy alert!). And yet ...
posted by octobersurprise at 6:57 AM on May 13, 2015


I think the point of the list was to contrast the innumerable works that white men can see themselves in against the choices that other groups would have.
posted by Renoroc at 6:57 AM on May 13, 2015


I think the point of the list was to contrast the innumerable works that white men can see themselves in against the choices that other groups would have.

Also quite plausible!
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:58 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


maybe also a joke about how silly and disparate these lists are when made for other groups... it's got levels!
posted by nadawi at 6:59 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


lollymccatburglar, I came in to say If anyone hasn't read Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis they should read it right away.

Individual titles are to the point; the list as a whole is the point.

As I read the list I started thinking how much fun it must have been to sit around with a couple friends and suggest titles. Maybe by email, but ideally in person, with a couple beers. The list probably needs some Martin Amis.
posted by theora55 at 6:59 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Who is this Campbell guy and why does Wikipedia say "His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience" because that makes me want to avoid him completely, along with his adherents.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:00 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


why does Wikipedia say "His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience"

Because he's the Ur-White Guy Author. So of course that's what some other white guy's gonna write about him on wikipedia. Which is exactly why he should be on the list. Which is my point.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think my main annoyance with this is the abuse of "literally."

At the risk of spoiling it, that's the joke. It is a joke, right?
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


White men are idiots! All of them!
posted by Flashman at 7:06 AM on May 13, 2015


It's pretty lame as parody without Robert Bly's Iron John, Moby Dick (though owned but not read, probably), or anything at all by Norman Mailer, Denis Johnson, Charles Bukowski (i.e., the only poetry dudes are allowed to read without being a wuss), Edgar Rice Burroughs, or any fiction featuring baseball such as Ring Lardner or Bernard Malamud stories, or one of George Plimpton's sports books. I mean, put at least a sliver of effort into your parody, Toast writer. (Honestly, I get the impression the writer had a looming deadline, no ideas, and randomly cherry-picked from older "guy's lit" listicles without really putting any thought into it.)
posted by aught at 7:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


But that grammatical fight has been lost I'm afraid

There is no grammatical fight, just a completely lack of sensitivity to sarcasm.
posted by easter queen at 7:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


oh shit this is why we can't have nice things
posted by thelonius at 7:09 AM on May 13, 2015


10. I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, Tucker Max

11. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

12. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, Oliver Sacks


What an odd list. It's like a Necker cube that keeps bouncing in my head between multiple suggestions of jokes but never converging on one.
posted by IjonTichy at 7:10 AM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


I've read the first three chapters of Gravity's Rainbow 10 times, so that counts, right?

ahahahahahahaha my life
posted by vogon_poet at 7:11 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


> "It was at least a Category 7 Double Pwnzing."

... And I just realized I tried to argue against the idea that something is beloved of people who consider themselves highbrow by stating that no one (except, by implication, me) had heard of it.

I'm going to put on the cone of shame and stand in the corner now.
posted by kyrademon at 7:12 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


randomly cherry-picked from older "guy's lit" listicles

I wouldn't call The Celestine Prophecy "guy's lit" in any multiverse.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:14 AM on May 13, 2015


The high school version has more Castaneda.

YES. Any of his books were included in the New Age Spirit Warrior Dude starter kit, along with a set of devil sticks, Birkenstocks and a colorful blown-glass pipe.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Also missing Foucault's Pendulum.
posted by nom de poop at 7:16 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


#notallwhitemen

I own three!

All Crichton all the time! (that's how you spell it right?)
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 7:16 AM on May 13, 2015


From my own collection I'd like to humbly nominate for inclusion "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and "any Lonely Planet travel guide."
posted by MoonOrb at 7:21 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm a woman, I've read 27 of the books on the list.

I've also read 'Captain America fanfic, Emily Bronte'

I CONTAIN MULTITUDES.
posted by Windigo at 7:22 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


White male here who's owned or read most of these books. Guilty.

That said, I feel like the list is not intended to say much about white men, but to make us react to it like the privileged idiots we are.
posted by touchstone033 at 7:23 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Jss · 20 hours ago
I am crying this is actually perfect I love everything about this


That's a quote from the comments on the original list. How? Why? The list isn't even funny, it's just clickbait.
posted by GrapeApiary at 7:24 AM on May 13, 2015


It's like some kind of slow release humor poison where the more annoyed I perceive people getting the more hilarious it gets.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [27 favorites]


I CONTAIN MULTITUDES.

I CONTAIN MULTIDUDES.

ftfy!

/jk
posted by taz at 7:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


(I have or have/had 30+ of these books)
posted by taz at 7:27 AM on May 13, 2015


I CONTAIN MULTIDUDES.

Steve and Bucky, man, you've NO IDEA. They had to share a sagging old bed in their grubby little flat, cuz they were broke, you know. And well.....
posted by Windigo at 7:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really think this was a dual work.

You were supposed to read the list, then read this comment thread.
posted by halifix at 7:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is also, coincidentally, a list of books with used copies available on Amazon starting at $0.01
posted by theodolite at 7:31 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Funny, Joseph Campbell occurred to me too, but that might be aimed at a slightly different demographic.

And I'm assuming that it would be the big paperback The Power of Myth with the pretty pictures of tribal masks and things, you know, the one you got from the pledge drive at the local PBS station.

If you still have The Hero with a Thousand Faces, it's a paperback from about 1970, with a yellow-and-black USED sticker at the bottom of the spine, because it was assigned reading in college.
posted by gimonca at 7:32 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


We, as a site, can do a better version of this joke.

Literally anyone who spent more than two minutes on it could do a better version of this joke.
posted by IAmUnaware at 7:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


There is something ineffably white-dudely about all these books, I assume that is the joke. Like, if you're a white dude, and you don't mean to buy any of these, somehow, you still end up owning a few. As she said "Look under your bed." You cannot escape them, white dudes.

It has nothing to do with quality of the books, just their white-dude-ownership likelihood.

Though if the husband brought Tuesdays with Morrie into my house, there would be a fight.
posted by emjaybee at 7:36 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


That's a quote from the comments on the original list. How? Why? The list isn't even funny, it's just clickbait.

"I am crying this is actually perfect I love everything about this" is simply the 2015 version of "LOL". It's not literal, it's just part of the natural upward trend in hyperbole that's been happening since people started to express favour online. The commenter's face didn't even twitch when they typed that.
posted by distorte at 7:37 AM on May 13, 2015 [31 favorites]


distorte that is unquestionably the most brilliant explanation of that comment I've ever seen in any comment forum ever bar none
posted by MoonOrb at 7:39 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Going down the list for me. Read, not owned.

2. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

-Read once in school and once after just to read it. Love it.

3. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole

-Recommended by sister, hated it.

7. The first two volumes of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin

-Of course.

9. Catch-22, Joseph Heller

-Read, liked parts of it.

11. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

-Got about 3/4 of the way through before brain could not take any more.

13. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

-Read in High School, thought it was going to be similar to Field of Dreams. Was disappointed.

15. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

-Read in school, disliked.

17. Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk

-Yeah, I'm in the right age group.

18. The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov

-Also recommended by sister, hated.

19. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown

-Sure.

30. Ragtime, E.L. Doctorow

-Read in school, recall not disliking it but nothing else.

32. America: The Book, Jon Stewart

-Got it from a used book store for $2, skimmed it.

44. Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond

-Was pretty interesting at points and mind numbingly boring at other points. I liked the discussion of Native American civilizations.

54. The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan

Sure.

62. On the Road, Jack Kerouac

-Read in school, pretty damn good.

63. Lord of the Flies, William Golding

Had to read in school twice. Not terrible but not good either.

64. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien

-Liked the movies better.

71. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey

-Another one I read in school and reread later for the experience.

72. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

-Liked the movie better.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:39 AM on May 13, 2015


(22ish/79) Apparently my reading collection passes for white. Hopefully this qualifies me for some dope-ass mutual funds or a plaque with my name on it in some national park near a snow-capped mountain.

Although, thinking about it, I'd classify this list as less "white" than "male American middlebrow."

I used to have a subscription to Smithsonian so I know whereof I speak.
posted by xigxag at 7:42 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Like, if you're a white dude, and you don't mean to buy any of these, somehow, you still end up owning a few.

Indeed. It's likely that even the most droolingly drooling Juke or Kallikak has a dozen or so of these books on some sad shelf beside his bed.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:44 AM on May 13, 2015


Drinky Die: "Actually, looking back, as far as I can tell nobody has seriously said it was Ortberg."

Literally every white man in this thread has said it was Ortberg. Also, literally every white man in this thread has said the author was male. White males are big on non-binary gender.
posted by Bugbread at 7:45 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


The list as a whole does draw a picture of a certain type of person: male, probably born around 1950, young adult in the 1970s, now a successful person in management in an insurance company in Des Moines, still active but looking forward to retirement. Several of the books seem dated, but this guy has put in at least a little effort in keeping up--from his point of view. A couple are mildly edgy, but in a way that's sanctioned by mainstream culture.
I'd say that's pretty close. White American male, early to mid 60s who likes to read and gets most of this recommendations from other white men and from best seller lists or reviews in Time or Newsweek. Keeps things on his bookshelf for one reason or another.
posted by Death and Gravity at 7:45 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


And how did they get there? That, my friends, is a mystery.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:45 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Distorte, your comment was so good I am naming my next son after you and trying to convince my dad to change his name to yours as well.
posted by Bugbread at 7:45 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


It took me too long to figure out what you guys are doing.
posted by distorte at 7:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


THATS WHAT SHE SAID
posted by 7segment at 7:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Reader, I categorized him. Literally.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:51 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, distorte has now made me laugh so much I'm crying. Twice. (Exactly eight words of this are true.)
posted by taz at 7:51 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


WHAT NO SHAKESPEARE? ? ?
posted by echocollate at 7:54 AM on May 13, 2015


Ok, so we've got people who love the work, people who dislike it, people who are confused, people who point at anyone who loudly commented about anything but liking it as being privileged, our own short parody of the linked work, sliding into snark, threats/insults that were removed and suggested for MetaTalk, people joining in because they're amused by the comment thread, our own short serious version of the linked work, outright lying, and confusion about outright lies. Are we missing anything?

This is The Dress for MetaFilter.
posted by halifix at 7:54 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


Are we missing anything?

Still need someone to offer a lengthy anecdote from their time working in a library or bookstore that can attest how this list is spot on/utter bullshit.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:58 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Still need someone to offer a lengthy anecdote from their time working in a library or bookstore that can attest how this list is spot on/utter bullshit.

I was in charge of the kid's section of my public library in high school. Needs more Berenstain Bears.
posted by echocollate at 8:01 AM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


THATS WHAT SHE SAID

So we're officially not doing phrasing any more?
posted by fullerine at 8:02 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Some stupid lizard part of my brain somehow only cares that Dune isn't on the list. Like, the most important thing in the world is that, if there is a list, the thing that I like that is the type of things it lists is on the list. Is the list even a good thing to be on? Unclear, but WHY ISN'T MY THING ON IT.

This is seriously, I don't know, there's gotta be some proto-human evolutionary advantage to making like lists of the best yak-shit-muddled drinking holes and then arguing about rankings.
posted by cortex at 8:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


So this is basically a list of the NYT's best sellers from 1970-mumble to now? Uh, ok.

Who Moved My Cheese?

At least try.
posted by sfkiddo at 8:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I feel like we're all staring at a a painting of an owl eating a cinnamon bun, projecting onto it, and screaming/laughing/crying/hugging (at) one another while the rest of Metafilter burns.

These are the best threads.
posted by echocollate at 8:08 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


Dune isn't on the list

Eh? I am beginning to wonder if the author has even ever encountered a white man in his native habitat.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:08 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm not that white I guess but I kinda knew that. I'm glad TFA prompted this thread, but I hope the author of TFA admits to mailing this in.
posted by drowsy at 8:11 AM on May 13, 2015


I don't get it, these just seem like excellent, best-selling, and vital books literally everyone should read and know. I can think of literally a million other books that could be on this list. There's nothing to see here this is a garbage FPP.
posted by nom de poop at 8:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


betweenthebars: "42. To Kill a Mockingbird, Jane Austen"

Ahem.


Anyway. It's an OK piece, I guess. Sometimes it's alright to workshop a piece some more.
posted by boo_radley at 8:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't get it, these just seem like excellent, best-selling, and vital books literally everyone should read and know. I can think of literally a million other books that could be on this list. There's nothing to see here this is a garbage FPP.

wow, @oliviataters, are you back?
posted by aught at 8:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm more interested in the omission of "straight" from the title and what it says about the underlying tensions between gay men and feminists.

Well judging from my bookshelf, not-straight means replacing the more "rawr, macho man" parts with Ursula K. LeGuin and paranormal romance novels...
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:18 AM on May 13, 2015


but I hope the author of TFA admits to mailing this in.

nicole cliffe in fact seems to be suffering a workplace injury from her joyous deleting of all the angry bro comments her list is inspiring. i just can't stop laughing.
posted by nadawi at 8:19 AM on May 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


Still need someone to offer a lengthy anecdote from their time working in a library or bookstore that can attest how this list is spot on/utter bullshit.

I worked at a Chapters Indigo (Canadian equivalent of Barnes & Noble style box-box book store) for 4 years during my undergrad.

People of all types would come in and ask for all kinds of books. There were moments where some stereotypes would sort of fit and some that just surprised you.

In my experience it wasn't so much that white men would always ask for certain books. Its that you learned how to recommend the right type of book when someone would come in and ask for something good to read. That was important to me. Being familiar with what is popular (even if you dislike those books) and what someone is likely to read.

Most of the employees in our book store were expert at sizing some one up based on their appearance, their manner, their speech, etc. You talk with the customer for a few minutes and try to form a picture of what this person is into. (Of course this doesn't always work but after a while you have a sense for these quick judgments and recommendations.)

So this guy is obviously a fan of Michael Crichton, maybe I should recommend some James Rollins. Or, this guy loves Terry Goodkind, maybe I should show him where the dumpster is. (I kid, I kid....but not really.)
posted by Fizz at 8:23 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


nicole cliffe in fact seems to be suffering a workplace injury from her joyous deleting of all the angry bro comments her list is inspiring. i just can't stop laughing.

Oh wow, you are never supposed to actually read the comments beneath an article you wrote! That's just madness. You'll agonize all day over something xX_RonPaul2016_Xx sneered about your article that was wrongwrongwrong or that it's clear FreeThinker69 didn't read farther than the headline and just wanted to pop by to drop that tiresome Rowan Atkinsson quote about criticising religion in the comments section.

Hit "Publish" and walk away. Walk away!
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:24 AM on May 13, 2015


Fizz: "Or, this guy loves Terry Goodkind, maybe I should show him where the dumpster is. (I kid, I kid....but not really.)"

No, this is fair.
posted by boo_radley at 8:25 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's a test to see how reactive to being called middlebrow you are.

Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about… Jonathan Franzen.
posted by RogerB at 8:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


pretty sure the comments are moderated and she has to read them, and from her twitter stream there doesn't seem to be any agony on her part.
posted by nadawi at 8:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hit "Publish" and walk away. Walk away!

At The Toast? They would have to salt and burn the comments section, from all the angry dude-bros posting pornographic gifs and angry threats of sexual violence (or just violence). No openly-feminist site on the net can leave a comment thread unmoderated, or soon there is only a crocodile-infested swamp of fecal matter.
posted by suelac at 8:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


I have nothing to fear from this. My bookshelf boasts quality titles like "Schopenhauer and the Wild Years of Philosophy" by Rudiger Safranski and "Slapping Techniques" by Chuck Rainey.
posted by thelonius at 8:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is it just me, or do all of the promotional images of Terry Goodkind make him look as if he's about to hypnotize you/make the Statue of Liberty disappear?
posted by echocollate at 8:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


> I don't get it, these just seem like excellent, best-selling, and vital books literally everyone should read and know

The "everyone should read and know" part is vital to the humor of this list.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


nicole cliffe in fact seems to be suffering a workplace injury from her joyous deleting of all the angry bro comments her list is inspiring. i just can't stop laughing.

This listicle as performance art bro trolling is a work of genius, regardless of whether it counts as a “good post” or not.
posted by pharm at 8:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about Jonathan Franzen.

FoS.

OK, that's an acronym but whatever.

At The Toast? They would have to salt and burn the comments section, from all the angry dude-bros posting pornographic gifs and angry threats of sexual violence (or just violence). No openly-feminist site on the net can leave a comment thread unmoderated, or soon there is only a crocodile-infested swamp of fecal matter.

Oh, I don't mean that comments shouldn't be moderated at all; someone's gotta do it. It's usually kind of gut-wrenching to do it under your own article, though, so good on Cliffe for having a thicker skin than I would!
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:30 AM on May 13, 2015


Hit "Publish" and walk away. Walk away!

No, no, you must not fear comments. Fearing comments is the mind-killer. You must face your comments, permit them to pass over your article and through it. And when they have been posted, you roll your inner eye at their rhetoric. Where the comment has gone there will be nothing. Only you will remain.
posted by cortex at 8:34 AM on May 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


This listicle as performance art bro trolling is a work of genius, regardless of whether it counts as a “good post” or not.

The peeing joke in Austin Powers is not a work of genius. Genius would have been doing this in far fewer than 79 titles.
posted by 7segment at 8:34 AM on May 13, 2015


I too thought this was mere lazy clickbait until I read the comments here. It's still lazy clickbait but, like, sublime lazy clickbait. I like this thread so much that I scanned through it again to see how many times folks responded by listing the specific number of books from the list that they own, mostly just sharing for the sake of sharing but often with the hilarious undertone of "I am providing empirical evidence that this list is wack." So far we've got twenty numbers (and dozens more vague responses), though four of the numbers were by people who identified themselves as not white or not male.
posted by vathek at 8:36 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, almost anybody who was educated in the latter half of the Twentieth Century would have a fair number of titles from that list, as I certainly do.

However, any White Dude worth his salt will tell you this list is missing a few important auteurs and titles. No Orwell, no Huxley, no Hunter S. Thompson or Henry Miller? No Bukowski? No Gibson?

Without those titles on your bookshelf, you are probably one Boring White Dude…but then again, many White Dudes I know personally, have no books on any shelves, at all...
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 8:38 AM on May 13, 2015


@mallelis: this is a hate crime against white men and you should be put in thousand-year jail @Nicole_Cliffe
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:40 AM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


At least try.
posted by sfkiddo


EXACTLY THE WHOLE POINT.
posted by padraigin at 8:40 AM on May 13, 2015


This thread is beginning to remind me of the article from this previously where the guy doesn't understand why Buzzfeed is funny and gets all bent out of shape about it.
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:40 AM on May 13, 2015


We, as a site, can do a better version of this joke.

Haven't we already, but for films and television and podcasts? It's called FanFare. Books are coming eventually, according to the About page.
posted by juiceCake at 8:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I own 2 of these. One of them is Lord of the Rings. The other is even more embarrassing. I have...the Da Vinci Code. And I liked it! It was stupid, fun Hiram Key adventure garbage! Deal with it.

No Orwell, no Huxley, no Hunter S. Thompson or Henry Miller? No Bukowski? No Gibson?

Seriously, not sure how 1984 and Brave New World weren't on there. They were the first books I expected to find on this list.
posted by Hoopo at 8:45 AM on May 13, 2015


Incidentally, are the subsequent ASoIaF volumes an improvement over the first two? Because I finished those and discovered that I just didn’t care enough to wade through that much prose all over again.
posted by pharm at 8:47 AM on May 13, 2015


Four and five are generally considered lower quality than the first three. They both had some extremely great moments though. If you are only half interested I would probably just stick with the show.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'll concede the point about Thompson. Every year, with every new batch of interns that submit stuff for consideration at the magazine I work at, there will invariably be one or two edgy, iconoclastic young men who have clearly read Thompson and worship him. This is easy to tell because the article will be rambling, semi-coherent, and the subject will somehow be the author themselves rather than what they're supposed to be reporting. And they will mention being drunk and/or high during coverage, possibly also while writing.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:50 AM on May 13, 2015


Datum 1: I am innocent of 59 of these 79 titles.

Datum 2: I own somewhere north of 5000 books and read 50-100 books/year ...

There are a lot of books out there.

I'd also like to note that this is a very American list, not just a white male list. Where's 1984, or Brave New World, or The Complete Works of Shakespeare, or Casino Royale? On the other hand who the hell has even heard of Atlas Shrugged? (Americans and people who spend too much time on the internet, that's who: Ayn Rand is nobody in UK bookselling.)
posted by cstross at 8:51 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]




3. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole

-Recommended by sister, hated it.


My sister also loves this book. I think this one may be a miss for this particular list.

I think it's possible this list doesn't make sense to me because most of the books I've read since school were recommended to me by my mom. My dad reads boring shit.
posted by Hoopo at 8:54 AM on May 13, 2015


Metafilter: Now I dare you to try the same thing, but with black men.

Alex Haley's biography of Malcolm X?
Pimp by Iceberg Slim
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown
Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver
Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosely
The Art of Mackin by Tariq Nasheed
Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 cent and the Rise of the Hip Hop Huster by Ethan Brown
Makes Me Wanna Holler by Nathan McCall
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead


I think the joke is that I, as a Black man have read all of these books AND most of the ones on the White Male list. I'll eat my hat if one white dude here has read "The Art of Mackin"

The salty responses here are amplifying my appreciation of the source material. I think the major theme of the next 10 years will be White males realizing that if the rest of can't get out of the box, then they're just gonna have to get in the box with us.

If you're a white guy and this list pissed you off, multiply that by every time a tv show featured a large sassy black nurse, or an asian dry cleaner speaking broken english, or a mystical Native American spirit guide...etc, and so on.
posted by billyfleetwood at 8:57 AM on May 13, 2015 [29 favorites]


"huh, why do all white men own Shogun?

BECAUSE IT RULES!!!111

(no, really, I think this.)
posted by josher71 at 8:57 AM on May 13, 2015


I must be a guy. of the 20 or so titles on that list that are in my house, all but one are owned by me (the wife) not my husband. and seriously, most men do NOT fucking own Beowolf please....
posted by supermedusa at 8:58 AM on May 13, 2015


"huh, why do all white men own Shogun?

BECAUSE IT RULES!!!111


King Rat is my jam.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:59 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The TV miniseries introduced me to ninjas, and for that I will be forever grateful.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:00 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Has anyone explained the joke for white males who don't get it? Are they supposed to be embarassing books?

I've read or owned (gifts I never read, mostly) 2, 4, 9, 13 17, 22, 35, 39, 40, 51, 57, 58, 60 and 68. Most of them were pretty good.
posted by fivebells at 9:01 AM on May 13, 2015


My sister also loves this book. I think this one may be a miss for this particular list.

Confederacy of Dunces is a perfect inclusion because it is frequently recommended by guys who don't understand they're the type of person it is lampooning.
posted by edeezy at 9:02 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also: No Kafka? Did you never encounter a moody teenaged white kid from the suburbs before? There's millions of us! And everyone I knew had something by Douglas Coupland but that might be a Canada thing.

if you're a white guy and this list pissed you off

Not pissed off, just sorta confused by it--some of the selections seem so completely random and I sort of expected more hits than misses because on this topic you could probably nail down 40 or 50 pretty easily. But your point is taken.
posted by Hoopo at 9:07 AM on May 13, 2015


I read quite a few of these at the end of my teens and start of my early 20s. That was around the time where my reading was largely influenced and motivated by the American education system that I grew up with. It wasn't until I matured, entered university, & moved to another country that I started to realize how insular my reading habits were.
posted by Fizz at 9:09 AM on May 13, 2015


Freddie de Boer bemoans the laziness of this list in a post today on the failures of Internet cultural politics:
Take this piece that recently ran on The Toast, a website that has taken maximum advantage of this Teflon aspect of progressive argument. This piece is titled “Books That Literally All White Men Own: The Definitive List.” When it says list it doesn’t mean listcle, but list. It’s just a literal list of books. Could such a thing be clever, funny, perceptive? Sure. This is not. This is a list of books that have no particular internal consistency or meaning. If ever a professional writer farted out a piece, this is it. Are some of these books indicative of a kind of vague dude culture? I guess so, although as is typical of these things, it mostly refers to the white dude culture of 20 or so years ago. But besides: you could literally take any twenty of the books on here, substitute them at random with any twenty other books, and the people who are going wild for the piece in the comments would go just as wild. What does that say about the exercise?

Now comes the stock response: white male tears! You dislike the piece because you’re implicated by it! You’re insulted! Well, I’m insulted all right, but it’s not because I feel affronted as a white dude. I’m insulted because an adult got paid to rifle through some Wikipedia list of best sellers and throw it on a Word doc. I wish I was affronted politically or personally, because that would imply that there’s something actually interesting going on in this list. […] It would be really amazing if The Toast would try to get its own readership to confront themselves politically rather than to see all political engagement as a way to identify who they’re better than.
posted by RogerB at 9:10 AM on May 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


And everyone I knew had something by Douglas Coupland but that might be a Canada thing.

As with anything Americans write online, American is implied.
posted by ODiV at 9:11 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Since when has accuracy been relevant in stereotyping people?
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:11 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Now comes the stock response: white male tears! You dislike the piece because you’re implicated by it! You’re insulted! Well, I’m insulted all right, but it’s not because I feel affronted as a white dude.

Oh this whole thing just keeps on giving. When will Franzen weigh in and Botton too.
posted by winna at 9:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


Freddie de Boer bemoans the laziness of this list

Haha wow! This list is like the Duchamp's Fountain of Toast offerings.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [25 favorites]


I’m insulted because an adult got paid to rifle through some Wikipedia list of best sellers and throw it on a Word doc.
I'm not insulted. I'm envious.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think the joke is that I, as a Black man have read all of these books AND most of the ones on the White Male list. I'll eat my hat if one white dude here has read "The Art of Mackin"

Fair comment, but I did read Roots and Airport.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:16 AM on May 13, 2015


I’m insulted because an adult got paid to rifle through some Wikipedia list of best sellers and throw it on a Word doc.

as the editor of the toast, is nicole cliffe paid by article?
posted by nadawi at 9:16 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


There’s many more subversive ways to try something like this. For example: a more honest version of this list would have to include Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

I will say my immediate reaction to seeing "The Tipping Point" on the list was that "Things Fall Apart" interested me much more both as a book and a Roots album.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:16 AM on May 13, 2015


> It would be really amazing if The Toast would try to get its own readership to confront themselves politically rather than to see all political engagement as a way to identify who they’re better than

We just can't win. Either we're not trying hard enough and we're lazy, or we try hard enough and we're humorless feminists.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


Oh this whole thing just keeps on giving.

Haha wow!


Serious question: what critique of the list wouldn't receive this response? Is there any?
posted by RogerB at 9:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Actually we can win, by sitting back and laughing.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:18 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


10. I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, Tucker Max

I literally felt anger flare within me at the suggestion that I owned this. God, I love The Toast.


It's really one of those guilty pleasure books. As in, you enjoy it, but you aren't necessarily proud of the fact. It was literally LOL-funny - as in, I physically laughed out loud when reading it. (How that term has been debased by the abbreviation.)
posted by theorique at 9:19 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


anything that takes this list seriously and writes an overwrought piece about the problem with feminists/internet/millennials/whatever the hook they're hoping to juice their click-throughs with will receive hearty laughter and mockery from me.
posted by nadawi at 9:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


Especially if it has a tone of "you haven't paid enough attention to what my taste is really like" to it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:22 AM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


Also Freddie is _definitely_ confused about who the author actually is.
posted by kmz at 9:22 AM on May 13, 2015


I have been steeped in this subject in recent days. I have been analyzing the New York Times Bestsellers list since 1960 on my blog.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:23 AM on May 13, 2015


Yes, the Ortberg-by-association is definitely the funniest aspect of this.
posted by RogerB at 9:23 AM on May 13, 2015


Serious question: what critique of the list wouldn't receive this response? Is there any?

You omitted my comparison of the list to Duchamp's Fountain, which I made for a reason: the time to construct and execute the list isn't what's important; it's in part its broader commentary and in part the reaction it creates. Just as nearly everyone I've met who had plenty to sneer about modern art always brings up Fountain, here de Boer conflates this thing into being part of "the failures of Internet cultural politics", either taking this list way too seriously or missing the point entirely.

I mean it's a list of books on The Toast; not a symptom of What Is Wrong With The Internet. I've seen plenty of criticisms in this very thread that are better than this.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:24 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Serious question: what critique of the list wouldn't receive this response? Is there any?

Pretty much no. it's a silly little list. To take it seriously enough to attempt to refute it makes you part of the joke. It is precious in that regard.

The only reason to get upset about it is because as a member of an unmarked group a person feels OUTRAGE at not being considered as a unique entity.

So it just keeps getting funnier as every time this is pointed out dudes seem to get more outraged.
posted by winna at 9:26 AM on May 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


And for the record, I do not think Cliffe is Duchamp. The reactions to their work are just funnily similar to me.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


nobody wants to be middlebrow

but Middlebrow would be a great band name.
posted by philip-random at 9:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


As with anything Americans write online, American is implied.

Nicole is Canadian but we are good at disappearing our Canadianness if we need to. Unless someone asks us to say 'Mazda'.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


Since when has accuracy been relevant in stereotyping people?

What exactly is the stereotype reflected by this list? (Asking as a possibly ignorant white male.)
posted by fivebells at 9:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The response to this is interesting because a lot of men seem really prone to getting bent out of shape by not having a respected place in a discourse that involves us in some important way. Jeez, what must that be like? What groups of people are probably completely tired of that very same dynamic, I wonder?
posted by clockzero at 9:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


A lot of these are books most anybody who had a public school primary education and a public school university education in the liberal arts would have been exposed to back when I was coming through the school system. I've had a lot of these books (like "Catcher in the Rye" and "Master and Margarita") specifically recommended to me by college educated women... Is it possible these are just books people who go to college tend to pick up? Most of the white guys I know in adult life aren't really very into books, other than graphic novels and self-help books.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:30 AM on May 13, 2015


the time to construct and execute the list isn't what's important; it's in part its broader commentary and in part the reaction it creates.

The "success" of this piece lies in its very stupidity. Being a lazily written list, it intends to provoke (or delight) the lazy reader. The "failure" of this piece lies in not being stupid enough. Ideally, it should have been a list of entirely random titles.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


it's almost as if that is why she tagged it saying she owns most of these books...
posted by nadawi at 9:34 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't own any books anymore because I don't want to have sex with John Waters.
posted by srboisvert at 9:34 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Wow is this thread ever a big plate of beans with a wiener in the middle.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:34 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Now comes the stock response: white male tears! You dislike the piece because you’re implicated by it! You’re insulted

So, I've read pretty much this whole thread and it's the weirdest piece of talking-past-each-other. The vast majority of critical responses to this piece aren't "OMG, how DARE she!" (though there are a few--a very few--of that ilk), they're simply "why isn't this more shrewdly insulting, more on point?" By far the most common criticism is simply "this list doesn't seem to compose any kind of consistent composite portrait of a recognizable cultural stereotype." So far from being "OMG, I'm implicated!" people are saying "why doesn't this implicate me more pointedly."

And yet all the people who keep coming back and back into the thread to insist that they are crying with laughter at the hi-larious "huffy" reactions of the stooooopid white males are choosing to read these complaints as mere displacement. No one, apparently, could possibly genuinely mean it when they say that it just seems like weirdly toothless and scattershot satire. No, anyone who says that must actually be seething with rage because somebody suggested they might own some weirdly random list of books.

But then that stance is immune to any kind of reality-check, I guess. It's literally impossible to say anything critical about this list that won't be assumed to be "huffiness" masking itself in some other guise.
posted by yoink at 9:36 AM on May 13, 2015 [47 favorites]


Also Freddie is _definitely_ confused about who the author actually is.

He isn't. His criticism or Ortberg is because he referenced a different article of hers as something really good.
posted by edeezy at 9:37 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Every year, with every new batch of interns that submit stuff for consideration at the magazine I work at, there will invariably be one or two edgy, iconoclastic young men who have clearly read Thompson and worship him.

Hahaha yes. Fear and Loathing at the Bosco County Blueberry Festival, Fear and Loathing at the Monroe Street Wal Mart...
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:40 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


If you're a white guy and this list pissed you off, multiply that by every time a tv show featured a large sassy black nurse, or an asian dry cleaner speaking broken english, or a mystical Native American spirit guide...etc, and so on.

We're already used to it!
posted by theorique at 9:40 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


white males are teflon to stereotyping because the snowflakes will always tell us why the stereotype isn't correct. which makes jokingly not even really trying to stereotype them and having them all flood in to say how she could have done it better even more funny.
posted by nadawi at 9:40 AM on May 13, 2015 [23 favorites]


I just don't get why anyone decided to engage with the material at all since it reads like something that they came up with in thirty minutes and had fun with in coming up with titles. The end.

Mefi's mileage varies from mine, though. Man, do I notice that.
posted by josher71 at 9:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The criticisms clearly aren't "how dare she," but they are criticisms, right? And I'm talking here especially about the comments that are substantially like "meh everyone owns some of these nbd" (like, yes, exactly). The fact that the reaction is criticism at all is amusing--saying that people are really pissed about the list is hyperbolic and funny, but the point is that lots of people are irritated enough to feel compelled to criticize it, even if the criticism takes the "meh, shrug" form. I mean, people just hate to be told either that they have middlebrow taste or that they conform to a stereotype, and this piece has created some kind of synergistic effect by combining those two.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:49 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


A true story, ripped from the headlines:

Once, I picked up "my" copy of American Psycho off my bookshelf and saw a previously unnoticed embossed stamp declaring it the property of this extremely sketchy and weird guy who had been a C level at TWO different failed startups I worked at. He's really good looking, but in a sleazy way, born into lots and lots of money, Ivy league education, really really invested in appearances. And just overall, not at all far off from how I picture Bateman.

I was cordial with that guy, but I never really spent one on one time with him or anything like that. I never went to his house, and he never (to my knowledge) came to mine, and I have no idea how I ended up with his copy of American Psycho.

I'd read it, too, but I never noticed the stamp before I picked it up that time, raising the possibility that the stamp was somehow added in the interim.

I mean, not really, but what the hell anyway?
posted by ernielundquist at 9:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Unless someone asks us to say 'Mazda'.

Wait, do we do a thing with the Mazda? I was unaware.

When I lived in Japan I wondered for a while why this company "Matsuda" never made the jump to North America cuz their cars looked pretty nice but eventually I figured it out.
posted by Hoopo at 9:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hmm. No Tom Robbins. Interesting.
posted by eclectist at 9:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Cookiebastard: "Hahaha yes. Fear and Loathing at the Bosco County Blueberry Festival, Fear and Loathing at the Monroe Street Wal Mart..."

I might have written Fear and Loathing at the Ren Faire in college but fortunately no copies exist to prove that.
posted by octothorpe at 9:54 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've read some of these but where did all the big name 70's authors come from? I'm 51, my Dad had most of those books but I wouldn't touch stuff like Airport with a ten foot pole.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:55 AM on May 13, 2015


Oh and the only legit white dude criticism of this article IMO is "hey this book I own isn't on it," and in that spirit I condemn the list for omitting "Band of Brothers."
posted by MoonOrb at 9:55 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I appreciate the OP's effort to demonstrate that women Internet writers can be just as lazy as and make generalizations that are just as dumb as those made by men. Kudos.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:55 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


the point is that lots of people are irritated enough to feel compelled to criticize it, even if the criticism takes the "meh, shrug" form.

I just want to understand it. It's mildly irritating that apparently the joke's on me and I don't get it at all.
posted by fivebells at 9:55 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Combustible Edison Lighthouse: "Fair comment, but I did read Roots and Airport."

"Now I know I haven't been the best Jew. But I have rented "Fiddler on the Roof" and I *will* watch it."
posted by Chrysostom at 9:57 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


white males are teflon to stereotyping because the snowflakes will always tell us why the stereotype isn't correct.

Sure, any humor that relies on painting large groups of people with a broad brush will generate a certain amount of "hey, wait, I don't fit that because..." response. But are you really saying that you can't think of a single thread on Metafilter that has discussed a piece of satire aimed at white men (either in general or some particular subset of white men) where the general tenor of the responses has been positive? Are you really saying that there is no imaginable satirical stance aimed at white men where you won't get some reasonably large proportion of white, male respondents saying "heh, yeah, that's kinda true..."? Really? I'm not about to go trolling through past Metafilter threads, but I'm pretty sure that would be a losing bet.

So could you maybe just try imagining, for a second, that some of your interlocutors in this thread are actually speaking in good faith when they say that they just don't see the satirical rationale in the list? Just entertain that as a hypothesis, at least, and try to re-read their comments not in an imagined voice of someone spluttering with rage because anyone would DARE to suggest that white men are less than perfect, but in a voice that's genuinely saying "I'm trying to see the punchline here, but it's eluding me."

You suggest that this list is offering us a "stereotype" and that we're simply insisting on "special snowflake" exemption from the stereotype. (It is worth noting, by the way, that there are ardent defenders of the list who are equally insistent that the joke is based precisely on the list's randomness, that it's not in fact designed to conjure up any particular "stereotype." O.K. then: what stereotype is it offering? Who is the kind of person that the author has in mind who might be expected to feel drawn to this very disparate collection of works? What aspect of modern US white masculinity is the common denominator here that we're supposed to recognize? It's notable that in this whole thread there are very, very few attempts to describe this: all we have is people insisting how amused they are by the (so far as I can see almost wholly imaginary) "outrage" the list has generated.
posted by yoink at 9:57 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Warning, Overly Earnest:

Can I relate a heartwarming story about "The Da Vinci Code"? I have it. Here's why I have it: At the time it became a huge hit, I, an American, was living in Greece (as I am now), and was extreeeeeeeemely financially challenged. And this was pre-ebooks, and most English language books from book stores were crazy expensive, so the only books I managed to get were: Penguin Classics that some ESL schools or regular-school English classes used for some exercises, and which were available for very reasonable prices here (and wow, do I have a pile!), or I waited until my parents sent me birthday or xmas money, and I spent DAYS anxiously hovering over the amazon UK site to select books to buy (with hefty shipping charges), as my ONCE A YEAR book extravaganza (like maybe five or six books or something). Also my reading level of Greek language books was and is pathetic.

The book stores that I had access to would usually stock a few of the very top sellers in English language books, and I would occasionally check them out to see if I wanted to spend as much as a dinner for two out at a decent restaurant to buy one. In this way, I came across The Da Vinci Code, read a few pages, and decided, whoah, no, definitely not worth splurging on this!

And then for my birthday, a Greek family member, knowing my book/reading addiction, bought it for me as a gift. And this is one of the most treasured gifts I've ever received, because they were so attuned to the sort of thing that would make me happy (a booooook, wheeeeee!), and did the very best they could to give me that. And in the end, I actually enjoyed reading it despite its problems, and I'll never throw it out because omg so much <3.

I also have many other stories about books that mean a lot to me for various reasons, including several others mentioned on the list. Or other books that could be mentioned on other lists of books that might condemn or damn me as a reader who owns or has owned and/or enjoyed them. (I have a unremitting super soft spot for "Angelique and the King," for reasons best left unexplored. /13-year-old.)

I don't take this list seriously at all, and I find the humor in it, but also, you cannot even imagine the books I've read for whatever reason. When I was in elementary school and crazy about reading biographies, there were only like, maybe five biographies of notable women – that I tore through in a couple of weeks. Again, I was poring through shelves to look for things that I could read, and a lot of those things turned out to be guycentric, because that was what there was. Also, I really liked a lot of them.

It's only in the ... um, well, not quite sunset – but nowhere near high noon – years of my life that I have the choice to read pretty much anything I want to, whenever I want... and it is AMAZING. I'm so glad I lived this long. It's like a dream. But I'm also glad that I read all I did, even when I was scrounging in used book bins (so many treasures! I first discovered Hilary Mantel there! And also 50x as much trash!) and leftover novels left by tourists at Greek island hotels and whatever I could scrounge up from elementary school libraries in the US deep south, etc.

If I can be said to have a religion at all, it's probably "don't sneer at other people's books. Amen." I basically belong to the universalist unitarian church of books. But this post was a joke (\for certain values of joking), and even the author says she has most of those books, so I'm not freaking out too much.

also over 50 comments have been posted since I started writing this! dang!
posted by taz at 9:59 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


I think I get it; You create a banal list, and say "#thing all white men #verb." Then wait for the mens rights brigade to lose their shit because internet, and VOILA!! CLICKS! Example: Sandwiches all white men eat: 1: Roast beef 2: Bologna 3: Salami 4: Pastrami. First post "Are you saying a white man can't enjoy a CROQUE MADAM? SO racist! "
posted by punchee at 10:00 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Nicole Cliffe wins, so, so hard. OMG. I am going to engrave this thread in platinum, so I have an object I can hug occasionally and also show to guests.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 10:00 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


This list has a notable lack of anything by female writers, which I suppose is supposed to be damning, but it ignores the fact that EVERYBODY owns at least a Harry Potter book or two.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:01 AM on May 13, 2015


(It is worth noting, by the way, that there are ardent defenders of the list who are equally insistent that the joke is based precisely on the list's randomness, that it's not in fact designed to conjure up any particular "stereotype." O.K. then: what stereotype is it offering? Who is the kind of person that the author has in mind who might be expected to feel drawn to this very disparate collection of works? What aspect of modern US white masculinity is the common denominator here that we're supposed to recognize?

do you even read the comments you over ernestly respond to?

which makes jokingly not even really trying to stereotype them...
posted by nadawi at 10:02 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'll eat my hat if one white dude here has read "The Art of Mackin"

Why put yourself in this position? I don't want you to eat your hat. So I will just say that I've never read it. Hats are for wearing!
posted by Edgewise at 10:03 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Not sure whose comments you’re reading, yoink, but I think the amusement is more about people’s obliviousness to the point or points of the list, not their ‘outrage’ (because, as you point out, there hasn’t really been any - mild irritation at most).
posted by inire at 10:03 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


But then that stance is immune to any kind of reality-check, I guess. It's literally impossible to say anything critical about this list that won't be assumed to be "huffiness" masking itself in some other guise.

So what? What right do we have to oblige other people to take any critique we might have about something seriously?
posted by clockzero at 10:03 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The fact that the reaction is criticism at all is amusing

But you can't put anything up on the front page of Metafilter without people offering their opinions on it. Song, humor piece, story, art work, building--whatever. People are going to say "that's brilliant," "that's stupid," "that's hilarious," "I don't get it" no matter what.

So how is it so amazingly hilarious and revealing that people read this piece and bothered to say "I don't get it"? Are we to assume every time any piece of humor that is posted to Metafilter elicits a negative response that this is proof that the piece is brilliantly cutting-edge and hitting too close to the bone for the Metafilter audience? If someone posted some lazy "women are stoopid, right" piece and it met with a negative response (which, rightly, it would) would that actually be proof that it was a piece of dazzling, Swiftian brilliance?
posted by yoink at 10:04 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think the amusement is more about people’s obliviousness to the point or points of the list,

I'm trying to correct my obliviousness to this. Can you please explain explicitly?
posted by fivebells at 10:06 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]




some people really like the-toast's humor style, others really don't. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

people who react to it like "well what if it were about women or black guys or or or or?!?!" just increase my enjoyment of it.
posted by nadawi at 10:07 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I worked in bookstores for years. if I had a nickel for every time somebody (always male and white) asked Where's the Men's Section? I'd have some nickels. I am sometimes overly sincere, never replied snarkily. So that's something to regret.
posted by theora55 at 10:08 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm trying to correct my obliviousness to this. Can you please explain explicitly?

Trolling for fish in a barrel is sometimes really fun.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:10 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


No Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?
posted by bfootdav at 10:11 AM on May 13, 2015


do you even read the comments you over ernestly respond to?

No, really, we're all a bunch of meanies sneering at "the stoooooopid white guys" in the face of reasoned criticism on the failure of satire. You just have to read the thread the right way.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 10:12 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


maybe if i put my feeldoe on i can really start reading this thread correctly.
posted by nadawi at 10:14 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, it's a troll? OK.
posted by fivebells at 10:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


there's also the possibility that Nicole Cliffe was just pissed at her boyfriend/husband/brother whatever the day she wrote this and just listed off the books on his shelf. Which would make it all the more brilliant a piece in terms of sheer agit-prop
posted by philip-random at 10:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


which makes jokingly not even really trying to stereotype them...

So you agree, then, that the list doesn't, in fact, offer any particular coherent satirical portrait of a recognizable "white male" stereotype (and note, there are others in this thread who seem to think it does). So you agree, in fact, with pretty much all the criticism of the piece levied at it in this thread. Now, you also seem to be claiming that this is funny because despite the fact that the list is essentially contentless, people get all outraged and defensive about it. And there is my problem: you're imagining almost all the "outrage" and the "defensiveness." What we have is a random list (which you agree is pretty random), a bunch of people saying "hey, that seems kinda random?" and then a peanut gallery chiming in with "OMG, it's so hilarious that you're so outraged and offended by this totally random list." So...huh?

people who react to it like "well what if it were about women or black guys or or or or?!?!"


That wasn't my point--but kudos for twisting it so nastily. I was imagining a satirical piece about women that had some identifiable content, not imagining a version of this piece that just happened to be about women. I'm not saying "how dare anyone make a satirical piece about white men! That's just as offensive as making a satirical piece about women"--I'm saying that assuming that criticism in a Metafilter thread must prove that the piece hit a nerve is unwarranted.
posted by yoink at 10:16 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


My Favourite Deleted Comments From the White Dude Book List:
I think the white dude reaction to very gentle teasing about books I openly admit to owning as well speaks for itself, so I will not bother to add to it. I will say that I had not really meant to make much of a point about anything, just goofin’ on the books dudes tend to enjoy, but now I think I might have…accidentally made a point? A very threatening one, apparently!
posted by kmz at 10:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [27 favorites]


i'm not going to do the paint by numbers for you. you're wasting your time trying to deconstruct this with me. enjoy it, don't enjoy it - i'm still over here laughing.
posted by nadawi at 10:18 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


The only thing worse than a list article that doesn't explain its listings, is the comments thread in response to the list article where readers respond to the listings one by one and laboriously explain how the list is accurate or inaccurate based on their personal experience.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:18 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


just goofin’ on the books dudes tend to enjoy

Wait...so she does in fact think that this is a telling portrait of books that "dudes tend to enjoy"?
posted by yoink at 10:19 AM on May 13, 2015


Everyone is kind of assholes, huh?
posted by Hoopo at 10:22 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


literally nobody outside the US gives a shit about the Civil War

At first glance I got really excited, because I do own The Civil War... just not the version the list author means. BTW: reading this book drove home how important grain shipments are to winning a war.
posted by sbutler at 10:22 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


it's possible you've put more thought into than anyone who has written or enjoyed it...
posted by nadawi at 10:22 AM on May 13, 2015


It's a pretty good list either way, isn't it? I skimmed the titles and didn't realize it was literally just a random list someone made. Assumed there was some kind of (probably not very rigorous) research behind it... My bad.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:25 AM on May 13, 2015


I am genuinely entranced by the sort of response a single sentence with a list of books attached can elicit. This is, like, Kaufmanesque.
posted by griphus at 10:25 AM on May 13, 2015 [19 favorites]


Wait...so she does in fact think that this is a telling portrait of books that "dudes tend to enjoy"?

... Yes? Because it totally is, on average?

God the hyperliteral freakout about this is absolute gold. The privilege white men usually enjoy with respect to having their tastes validated as Objectively Correct (which is on display in this thread) instead of being listed like this as some demographic splinter group is really most of the joke. Seeing white dudes flip out because somebody called their taste "white straight male" or whatever instead of simply "mainstream," which is what we usually call it, just underscores her point.
posted by dialetheia at 10:26 AM on May 13, 2015 [39 favorites]


I'm trying to correct my obliviousness to this. Can you please explain explicitly?

It's a random and deliberately lazy (as the author admits, she wrote it in half an hour) selection of predictable / generic / middlebrow titles, which insults white men’s taste in books. As a standalone piece, absent any reader response, I found it mildly amusing for the different facets of generic white guy that each title reflects, but nothing spectacular.

What is much funnier are the responses that
a) view it as either a serious non-humorous definitive list of fiction that all white men own / have read or a serious but failed attempt at BITING SATIRE (because people getting things wrong is funny)
b) recognise that the list is gently criticising the books on it (even though the author admits she owns most of them) and saying this book or that book shouldn’t be on the list because it’s actually good (hello, you are the probable white guy that this list is ribbing)
c) elicit amusement at a successful piece of trolling (not big, not clever, still sometimes funny)
d) elicit the amusement you get when you find something funny and other people are totally oblivious to it (also kind of cruel, but there we are, all humour depends on the suffering of others).

I could probably go on but I don’t have the fortitude to go through the rest of the comments and the list doesn't really merit the mental investment - which, again, makes the fact that this is a 350 comment thread laugh-out-loud funny (to me, anyway). Without the responses, the list would be meh. I don't know whether Nicole Cliffe was aiming for these sorts of responses or whether it's just a happy accident, but it's great either way.
posted by inire at 10:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


To correct myself - not strictly random, but a random selection from the much much longer list of 'books that should be on this list'.
posted by inire at 10:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


And Nicole Cliffe may or may not appreciate a comparison to Andy Kaufman, but I mean ten words and an index of titles and authors and the internet roars in indignation and personal offense at her transgression in every corner that list finds itself.
posted by griphus at 10:29 AM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


It's just a list of books that were popular in the U.S. during a certain period of time, with no commentary. It's a Rorschach test. The hilariousness is in how someone can take this list of books and turn it into an article on everything that's wrong with the Internet or a commentary on themselves. I think we have people talking past each other about it because some people are talking about the list in isolation while the rest of us are talking about the whole situation.

on preview, what inire said.
posted by tofu_crouton at 10:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am genuinely entranced by the sort of response a single sentence with a list of books attached can elicit. This is, like, Kaufmanesque.

I guarantee you that there are all kinds of single sentences that will get a rise out of all kinds of people. See, the myriad "IT'S A PRANK IT'S A PRANK" videos on YouTube.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:30 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Serious question: what critique of the list wouldn't receive this response? Is there any?

Well, what if a woman of color gave the critique?
posted by Apocryphon at 10:32 AM on May 13, 2015


No one is addressing the more important points in the list!

One entry comprises *two* books of aSoIaF. One entry comprises *14* books of WoT. Two entries are ethnicity-specific!

If these concerns about the list are such 'hyperliteral freakout' material, then maybe we should be (figuratively) focusing on the improper use of 'literally' in the title.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 10:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Don't know if this was linked yet or not:
Take this piece that recently ran on The Toast, a website that has taken maximum advantage of this Teflon aspect of progressive argument. This piece is titled “Books That Literally All White Men Own: The Definitive List.” When it says list it doesn’t mean listcle, but list. It’s just a literal list of books. Could such a thing be clever, funny, perceptive? Sure. This is not. This is a list of books that have no particular internal consistency or meaning. If ever a professional writer farted out a piece, this is it. Are some of these books indicative of a kind of vague dude culture? I guess so, although as is typical of these things, it mostly refers to the white dude culture of 20 or so years ago. But besides: you could literally take any twenty of the books on here, substitute them at random with any twenty other books, and the people who are going wild for the piece in the comments would go just as wild. What does that say about the exercise?

Now comes the stock response: white male tears! You dislike the piece because you’re implicated by it! You’re insulted! Well, I’m insulted all right, but it’s not because I feel affronted as a white dude. I’m insulted because an adult got paid to rifle through some Wikipedia list of best sellers and throw it on a Word doc. I wish I was affronted politically or personally, because that would imply that there’s something actually interesting going on in this list. There’s many more subversive ways to try something like this. For example: a more honest version of this list would have to include Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Just like an honest music version of this exercise would require including Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar. Looking at how chichi white culture has grown to use performative love of black culture as a shield against social and political judgment, that might be useful, risky. It would risk, in fact, implicating The Toast’s audience. It would risk shaking them out of their complacency that they are The Good Ones. But if there’s one thing these sites understand, it’s that you’ve got to leave your readership soothed and reassured, confident that all of the social problems described in your work don’t apply to them personally. You let them stay on offense, never on defense.
posted by josher71 at 10:34 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


just goofin’ on the books dudes tend to enjoy

Wait...so she does in fact think that this is a telling portrait of books that "dudes tend to enjoy"?


She's not on fucking trial here
posted by clockzero at 10:34 AM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Now I can't even tell if people are keeping kayfabe or something.
posted by kmz at 10:34 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Is list of books the new plate of beans?
posted by Flashman at 10:36 AM on May 13, 2015


While at first I was just confused as confused as any other random white dude (but thanks SpaceCoyote for explaining the joke), after having read this thread I have to say I have come around to the opinion that this post was a magnificent and sublime bit of trolling and this thread has made me very happy. Anecdotes about books! Talking about all the guilty dude pleasure reads! And, most importantly, all the dire and defensive need a lot of white guys seem to have to make themselves heard when someone makes lazy and not particularly insulting stereotype about them. The post is self generating satire - it's brilliant!
posted by Zalzidrax at 10:36 AM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


then maybe we should be (figuratively) focusing on the improper use of 'literally' in the title.

Don't know if this was linked yet or not:

are you guys even reading the thread?
posted by nadawi at 10:37 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, what if a woman of color gave the critique?

Yeah, like Bobby Jindal giving the Republican response to the State of the Union address. Where could we get one though?
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 10:37 AM on May 13, 2015


Is list of books the new plate of beans?

A plate of beans is essentially just a scatterplot of beans, which can be represented isomorphically as a list of sets of bean coordinates.
posted by cortex at 10:39 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: It's literally impossible to say anything critical about this that won't be assumed to be "huffiness" masking itself in some other guise
posted by sylvanshine at 10:42 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I think we've all forgotten the lesson that Stuff White People Like was just a list of popular hobbies enjoyed by lots of people, but putting them under that title got a very similar reaction to this list.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:42 AM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


represented isomorphically as a list of sets of bean coordinates

Man, you could overthink an s-expression of beans.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 10:43 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wait...so she does in fact think that this is a telling portrait of books that "dudes tend to enjoy"?

She's not on fucking trial here


It's hilarious how seriously people are taking this.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:44 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I love plates of beans. Even better, reading books while eating said plates of beans. Perhaps I'm overthinking this, but I wish I could eat a bean for every word of every book. Mmm, beans. Black, pinto, chickpea, lentil - these are the legumes of which book reading sessions with bean plates are made!
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 10:45 AM on May 13, 2015


Sometimes you just want some variety in the privileged criticism you get. One day you may want to write about personal experiences and have people dismiss them. Another day it's your denouncing of a group's stance and actions, that results in people telling you actually it's about ethics in think of the children. Maybe there has been some really bigoted responses to some current event, and you want to be called humorless. Perhaps it's a social science study and people disparage the science and authors, and fire back with the same old debunked links.

And then there's days where you just decide "no, YOU do the heavy lifting" and write "Things White Men Enjoy: 1. Pizza 2. Beer" and watch the comments come in about how lazy those x's are, bemoaning that you aren't a perfect intellectual mouthpiece, and how inaccurate this article is.
posted by halifix at 10:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


Beans literally every white man owns:

1) Black
2) Garbanzo
3) Kidney
4) Baked
5) Lentils
6) Peanuts
7) Pinto
8) Dan Brown
posted by bitterpants at 10:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [24 favorites]


tpo kek
posted by boo_radley at 10:49 AM on May 13, 2015


1) Black
2) Garbanzo
3) Kidney
4) Baked
5) Lentils
6) Peanuts
7) Pinto
8) Dan Brown


Currently have all but Kidney (Not a big fan) and Brown in the kitchen.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:49 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]




Could those of you who aren't white men please give the thread a little room. This isn't supposed to be about your feelings or reactions.
posted by ODiV at 10:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [18 favorites]


I am out of beans. It is a sad day.
posted by Zalzidrax at 10:53 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Of course, the peanuts always remind me of the Illuminuti so maybe that can count as Dan Brown's presence.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:53 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


1. The Milagro Beanfield War

2. The Beans of Egypt, Maine

uhhhh

3. Bean Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 11:00 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I Hope They Serve Beans In Hell
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:03 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Gödel Escher Beans
posted by boo_radley at 11:05 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Godel, Escher: BEEAANNS seems like it would be about legume-loving zombie plants.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 11:05 AM on May 13, 2015


A day may come when the beanplating of men fails

BUT IT IS NOT THIS DAY
posted by clockzero at 11:06 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Beans and Nothingness
posted by chavenet at 11:06 AM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


So here's the twitter comment that seems to kinda explain it:

https://twitter.com/Nicole_Cliffe/status/598511473023799296

It says:

"I literally thought "huh, why do all white men own Shogun?" and then wrote this gentle, goofy thing in 30 minutes. "

So if she got paid for the article then I have a new side gig to pursue.
posted by I-baLL at 11:06 AM on May 13, 2015


She is one of the editors of the site so yes?
posted by hydrobatidae at 11:09 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


She co-founded/co-edits/presumably co-owns the site, so... But I certainly wish you good fortunes in your writing endeavors.
posted by kmz at 11:10 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


"She is one of the editors of the site so yes?"

If she's salaried as an editor then there's a big chance that she's not getting paid per article. If she is getting paid per article then, like I said, I've a new side gig to pursue.
posted by I-baLL at 11:10 AM on May 13, 2015


that tweet was posted up thread. it really seems like a lot of people wanting clarification aren't reading the thread.
posted by nadawi at 11:13 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


If you think you can knock out a piece in 30 minutes that will get this kind of attention, go for it!
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:13 AM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Beanhouse-Five, or The Commenter's Crusade
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thinking more about it, I feel like each subset of these books defines a different stereotype of a white man.
posted by vogon_poet at 11:15 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not only am I not reading the thread, I haven't even read the list.

Has anyone seen this yet?
posted by ODiV at 11:16 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Even Cowgirls Get the Beans
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:16 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Gentle Bean
posted by chavenet at 11:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Note of clarification for folks looking into career in making jokey comments on websites: I do not actually get paid for making jokey comments on this website, though I do get paid for working on this website and do make jokey comments on this website. Not getting paid to make jokey comments on websites is nice work if you can get it but please talk to a financial planner before doing anything drastic.
posted by cortex at 11:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


A Movable Feast (of Beans)
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:17 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thinking more about it, I feel like each subset of these books defines a different stereotype of a white man.

Like someone said above, I think it's also maybe intended to show a typical development pathway for her prototypical dude, as read from his bookshelf: from reading Tucker Max to reading pseudointellectual stuff like Freakonomics to aspiring to read DFW or Pynchon.
posted by dialetheia at 11:18 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Beanco: The Further Adventures of Papillon
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:19 AM on May 13, 2015


266bean
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Cryptonom-nom-nom-nom-the-beans-icon
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:20 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I do not actually get paid for making jokey comments on this website,

Well, they aren't not paying you enough, then.
posted by chavenet at 11:20 AM on May 13, 2015


The Rule 34 Precinct Novels by Ed McBean
posted by chavenet at 11:21 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Pelican Bean
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:22 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Unbearable Lightness of Bean
posted by cortex at 11:24 AM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


"that tweet was posted up thread. it really seems like a lot of people wanting clarification aren't reading the thread."

I did read the thread. I missed one comment apparently. No need to get so defensive.
posted by I-baLL at 11:25 AM on May 13, 2015


(and, yes, by saying "no need to get so defensive", I am inspiring a torrent of comments much like the FPP)
posted by I-baLL at 11:25 AM on May 13, 2015


The Perfect Split-Bean: A True Story of Men Against the Soup, by Sebeanstian Junger
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:25 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


And, for those among us who haven't read Shogun, it (at least according to Wikipedia) is a book about Japan written by a white dude in 1975, which given the availability of well-translated Japanese authors makes it probably not worth picking up, at least not if one wishes to learn anything about Japan.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:26 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


"My kid could write that."

(also Bean There)
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:26 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


A Tale of Two Chickpeas

Soy Long, and Thanks for All the Farts
posted by Drinky Die at 11:27 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bean to Harvest, Butler. The Left Bean of Darkness, Leguin. Man's Search for Beaning, Frankl. A Swiftly Tilting Bean, L'Engle. Frankenbean, Shelley. The Beanriders of Pern, McCaffrey. Beanworld, Norton.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 11:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Moneybean
posted by cortex at 11:28 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Beanfinger.
posted by I-baLL at 11:29 AM on May 13, 2015


Has anyone seen this yet?

RogerB posted and quoted from it upthread. I think the first half, about Allan Brauer and others like him, is better than the second, about the self-satisfaction fostered by The Toast and other liberalish-leftish comedy sites, not least because it responds to someone defending a moronic position in a moronic way in total sincerity.

The second half also indulges in dishonest essayistic first-person plurals. I doubt he really means himself when he writes: "We are lazy as political thinkers and we are lazy as culture writers and we are lazy as movement builders. We ward off criticism of our own bad work by acting like that criticism is inherently anti-feminist or anti-progressive." But that's a pet peeve of mine, and the piece's critical attitude toward overly facile liberal identity politics is reasonable.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:30 AM on May 13, 2015


God Is Not a Great Northern: How Cilantro Poisons Everything
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:32 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


So let me get this straight: Not only did this woman write something that some people didn't find to be funny, but she actually got paid to do so?? What a crazy world.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:32 AM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think Jurassic Park ought to be on the list.

For me (a white guy) the most telling hit was The Master and Margarita. I assume that's on the list because there was all that marketing hype about 10 years ago when a new translation came out, so it effectively became like an Oprah's Book Club selection for wannabe intellectual, politically-minded dudes. Bam, guilty as charged.

C'mon. No person of any gender or color owns both Jon Stewart and Ayn Rand.

My wife owns both of those. (But is not a Randian, I should hasten to add.) In fact she owns more of this list than I do--11 to 9.
posted by equalpants at 11:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Four-Bean Workweek
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:35 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Beans of My Father
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 11:36 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


"For me (a white guy) the most telling hit was The Master and Margarita. I assume that's on the list because there was all that marketing hype about 10 years ago when a new translation came out, so it effectively became like an Oprah's Book Club selection for wannabe intellectual, politically-minded dudes. Bam, guilty as charged."

It's also the inspiration for the Rolling Stones' song "Sympathy for the Devil".
posted by I-baLL at 11:37 AM on May 13, 2015


The Hero with a Thousand Cans of Dark Red Kidney Beans
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:38 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mr. Midshipman Hornbeaner
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:44 AM on May 13, 2015


Cilantro has been maligned. We're approaching Peak Metafilter here.

(A Farewell To Beans)
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:47 AM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Mr. Midshipman Hornbeaner

Bean to Quarters
posted by logicpunk at 11:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eugh, Metafilter used to be a place I could go and be humorless and not have to interpret a hundred facets of trolling.

Pull the car over I'm going to puke.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 11:48 AM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


people who point at anyone who loudly commented about anything but liking it as being privileged

Surely there's a Firefox/Chrome plugin that adds a button to the interface for all of Metafilter's sites to insert that as a comment it's so standard these days.
posted by juiceCake at 11:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bean Human
posted by echocollate at 12:03 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Surely there's a Firefox/Chrome plugin

Oh my god please. All my LOUDEST comments are artisinally crafted. I still get misread, but organically so.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:06 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid, I had the complete works to date of Larry Niven on my bookshelves. I submit that is a far more White Male choice than anything on this list. Of which I own about four books from, so I guess I have proved I'm not a typical White Male, at least not any more ever since my lilly-white self went through gender transition.

My mom (who is white) has like a third of these on her shelves. I'm not sure how many of them were brought into her library by my dad (now deceased, also white).

She gave me Infinite Jest once. I couldn't get more than about three chapters into it.
posted by egypturnash at 12:09 PM on May 13, 2015


Bean Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me

When I first saw this awesome Choose Your Own Adventure clone as a kid I sincerely believed, based on the title I thought I'd read, that it was going to be a book about a science-fictional legume indulging in espionage
posted by RogerB at 12:11 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


This list has a notable lack of anything by female writers, which I suppose is supposed to be damning, but it ignores the fact that EVERYBODY owns at least a Harry Potter book or two.

As a white guy, I am offended by the absence of Patricia Highsmith, Flannery O'Connor, and Shirley Jackson. Also by the omission of middle-period Margaret Atwood, but she's mostly just for picking up middle-brow white gals.

I might have written Fear and Loathing at the Ren Faire in college but fortunately no copies exist to prove that.

"We were somewhere around the anachronistic porta-potties on the edge of the craft market when the tryptophan began to take hold. The teacher-advisor had given me $25 in cash, most of which was already spent on $5.99 turkey drumsticks. The trunk of the car looked like a can and bottle depot, because Carla would only lend me her Mazda if we dropped off the recycling. [...] We can't stop here, this is LARP country!"
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:14 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


She gave me Infinite Jest once. I couldn't get more than about three chapters into it.

Don't feel so bad, that's about 250 pages.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:18 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Books That Literally Every Hipster Owns:

moustache
PBR
flannel
beard
artisinal
pickling
cupcake
fixed-gear bike
organic
quinoa
sailor tattoo
gentrification

C'mon! These are JOKES, people! Very cutting, original jokes!
posted by StopMakingSense at 12:20 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


..you're not making any sense.
posted by I-baLL at 12:26 PM on May 13, 2015


It's like comedic jujitsu where when someone criticizes your tastes as being middlebrow you use their own energy against them by criticizing their humor for being equally as middlebrow. POW.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:32 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've read almost all those supposed "hipster" books and I'm not even a hipster. What gives?? Those are just great titles that everyone should read?????
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:33 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


(I was just StopMakingSense's username as the basis for a stupid joke)
posted by I-baLL at 12:33 PM on May 13, 2015


If you think you can knock out a piece in 30 minutes that will get this kind of attention, go for it!

Pissing hordes of people off with a confusing message is pretty easy, actually. People do it by accident all the time.
posted by fivebells at 12:35 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


If you were to take a census of hipsters by self-report, you would find there are no hipsters.
posted by clarknova at 12:45 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fun fact: a local writer here unironically self-identifies as a hipster, but is actually a geek, though he keeps insisting he's a hipster. I think he does it to defend a demographic he believes get unfairly dumped on.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:50 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


a local writer here unironically self-identifies as a hipster, but is actually a geek, though he keeps insisting he's a hipster.

What a herb.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:55 PM on May 13, 2015


At least we're reading books.
posted by Splunge at 1:01 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


This thread is hilarious! The joke was never in the list at all, it was in knowing exactly what the reaction to this list from White Men On The Internet would be. MeFi took the bait and it's a blast to read. The Toast hit it out of the park with this one.
posted by naju at 1:04 PM on May 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


MeFi took the bait

Mefites engage with FPPs, it's a characteristic of the site.
posted by edeezy at 1:07 PM on May 13, 2015


Mefites engage with FPPs

???
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:07 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


there are plenty of posts that end with 10-20 comments. for this thread to be this long and filled the way it is, yeah, this is evidence of bait taking.
posted by nadawi at 1:09 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


The joke was never in the list at all, it was in knowing exactly what the reaction to this list from White Men On The Internet would be.

How can we be sure that the joke doesn't lie in knowing exactly what the reaction to the list from Non-White Men On The Internet would be?
posted by octobersurprise at 1:13 PM on May 13, 2015


Mefites engage with FPPs, it's a characteristic of the site.

How can we be sure that the joke doesn't lie in knowing exactly what the reaction to the list from Non-White Men On The Internet would be?

Please, keep going, this is amazing.
posted by naju at 1:14 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


MeFi took the bait and it's a blast to read. The Toast hit it out of the park with this one.

Ha ha, yep, they got me. Next time my privilege is apparently being criticized in an illegible fashion I'll do the dignified thing and ignore it.

Now I'm going to go listen to Tim Ferriss interview Samy Kamkar in awed tones about his A/B testing experiments for picking up chicks on OKCupid.
posted by fivebells at 1:15 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


All of the responses have been anagrams of "my cat's breath smells like cat food"
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:16 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Metatrek: The Bean Generation

Engage.
posted by Zalzidrax at 1:17 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


has anyone considered the possibility that you and your favorite book are not actually being viciously satirized/criticized/insulted? no? guess not.
posted by atoxyl at 1:20 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am having an incredibly stressful week, and I have not stopped smiling for about thirty minutes while reading this whole thread. It's so great. I haven't loved all of you so much in such a long time. Even and especially the people who don't get it or aren't amused by it. I'm not being ironic. I sincerely love you guys. You're all awesome.
posted by Errant at 1:24 PM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


This thread is hilarious! The joke was never in the list at all, it was in knowing exactly what the reaction to this list from White Men On The Internet would be. MeFi took the bait and it's a blast to read. The Toast hit it out of the park with this one.

My favorite part is how it's basically U MAD BRO? and then a whole bunch of bros getting mad and then those bros getting mad that people are accusing them of getting mad and so on. It's a perpetual MADBROtion machine.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:25 PM on May 13, 2015 [26 favorites]


Beans literally every white man owns:
Now do rices, and I'm set.
posted by eclectist at 1:26 PM on May 13, 2015


Fun fact: a local writer here unironically self-identifies as a hipster, but is actually a geek, though he keeps insisting he's a hipster. I think he does it to defend a demographic he believes get unfairly dumped on.

What a herb.

Sorry, forgot my link.

Full disclosure: I do write for this magazine, but this isn't me. Last time my hair was that long is was less Golden Tresses and more Drummer from Blue Cheer.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:28 PM on May 13, 2015


Almost like teeing up dismissive "zingers" like that were the whole point of the exercise.

It needs a rage comic troll face as the header image for the full hilarious effect,
posted by Sebmojo at 1:28 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


My favorite part is how it's basically U MAD BRO? and then a whole bunch of bros getting mad and then those bros getting mad that people are accusing them of getting mad and so on.

That's pretty sweet, but the best part is watching everyone who's heavily invested in believing that everyone else is mad.

"U MAD BRO?"

"No, I just ..."

"Y U MAD BRO?"

"I'm not, I just ..."

"U SO MAD BRO 111!"

Like I said. It isn't perfectly obvious to me who's trolling whom.

"I LOL @ UR TEARS BRO"
posted by octobersurprise at 1:35 PM on May 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


Literally every white man on MetaFilter is so mad right now.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:35 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


holy shit guys i just figured it out, it's an ARG for the Mad Men finale
posted by cortex at 1:36 PM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


if you think you aren't mad, have you tried checking under the bed? maybe you left your mad bro supplies down there...
posted by nadawi at 1:36 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


naju: "This thread is hilarious! The joke was never in the list at all, it was in knowing exactly what the reaction to this list from White Men On The Internet would be."

Here's the thing. I honestly don't think Nicole Cliffe was aiming at this magnitude of troll-tastic reaction. When I first saw this, I thought it was a C-minus article for The Toast. Mildly amusing but less substantial than most of their stuff, a bit of filler or a one-off, hyper-specific entry for "Stuff White People Like" (remember that thing from like seven years ago?).

But, man oh man, the reactions (#notallreactions). The mix of bafflement and the many different varieties of outrage (so many varieties!) makes this an early contender for Trolling of the Year. I'd love it even more so if it was mostly unintentional.
posted by mhum at 1:42 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh there was definitely some mad bros early on. But we crossed peak mad with that de Boer link and then got sidetracked into clever bean puns.

So what we need is to incite more mad. I'll start: Mad Men is a terrible series. It's a retro fashion show with dialogue.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:44 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'd love it even more so if it was mostly unintentional.

Guess what!

Background reading here. Also, go look at the comments on Facebook, they’re even better, and we don’t bother deleting them! I think the white dude reaction to very gentle teasing about books I openly admit to owning as well speaks for itself, so I will not bother to add to it. I will say that I had not really meant to make much of a point about anything, just goofin’ on the books dudes tend to enjoy, but now I think I might have…accidentally made a point? A very threatening one, apparently!
posted by inire at 1:44 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Like I said. It isn't perfectly obvious to me who's trolling whom.

True enough. I mean, putting every couple of words in italics to emphasize how not-mad one is does seem a little too on the nose to be totally serious.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:45 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


> Here's the thing. I honestly don't think Nicole Cliffe was aiming at this magnitude of troll-tastic reaction

Same here. It feels like it was jotted down for fun, much like all the manly man books + beans we have here. That it's become so talked about is extra amusing.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:46 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd love it even more so if it was mostly unintentional.

Maybe it's the troll singularity.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:46 PM on May 13, 2015


I was deadly fucking serious about the books + beans.
posted by cortex at 1:46 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Trolling Patriot fans has been more amusing. Though I'm sad I got banned from r/Patriots.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:48 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's not even about being mad, necessarily. All the confused or critiquing reactions to the list are also side-splittingly funny. The list is an ingenious exercise in misdirection, and the (imagined, or real, as in this thread) reactions are what makes the payoff. "Shogun? No guy under the age of 40 owns Shogun, what the hell. Is she really claiming that white men only stick with the first two books of Song of Ice and Fire? I'll compare nerd credentials with her. The Master and Margarita? That's great Russian literature, how dare she?" Etc. for 79 books. Some of them hit the "intended" satirical target, and some of them deliberately don't (and cause indignation because of it). That's my favorite part.
posted by naju at 1:51 PM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


People thinking that people thinking I'm mad when I'm not mad makes me mad makes me mad.
posted by xigxag at 1:51 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


> I was deadly fucking serious about the books + beans

We wrote it as a joke, why do you bean eaters have to take everything so seriously.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:52 PM on May 13, 2015


My bookshelf is literally just a giant pile of flaccid white dicks in a corner.
posted by StopMakingSense at 1:53 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'll thank you to not refer to the collected works of Don DeLillo like that.
posted by griphus at 1:55 PM on May 13, 2015 [27 favorites]


holy shit guys i just figured it out, it's an ARG for the Mad Men finale

It's a better idea than that networks shutting down thing they're actually doing, that's for sure.
posted by kmz at 1:55 PM on May 13, 2015


Is it too late to mention that I literally had a bean party in high school? No booze, just beans. And a hamsteak, which ended up draped over a telephone line, somehow wearing boxer shorts.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:57 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's never too late to mention bean parties.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:59 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is it too late to mention that I literally had a bean party in high school? No booze, just beans. And a hamsteak, which ended up draped over a telephone line, somehow wearing boxer shorts.

As a confirmed legumarian, can we bring this back? As a confirmed vegetarian, the hamsteak can stay where it is.
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 2:01 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Drinky Die: "Though I'm sad I got banned from r/Patriots."

Are you, though?
posted by boo_radley at 2:08 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Perhaps he felt not really sad but ...

( •_•)>⌐□-□
(⌐□_□)

... deflated.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:11 PM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'm sticking to my position that Atlas Shrugged is not a dude book, but if you wanna feel better/worse about that it may be because dudes don't read books by/about women.
posted by atoxyl at 2:11 PM on May 13, 2015


"that tweet was posted up thread. it really seems like a lot of people wanting clarification aren't reading the thread."

y u mad
posted by klangklangston at 2:13 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I like Shogun and am a Pats fan. Imagine how I feel!
posted by bitterpants at 2:16 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Incredible. As a white male I chuckled when Nicole put the post up, then became increasingly gleeful as the backlash started. I expected it from Twitter and Facebook but am quite surprised that it also happened so strongly here on Metafilter. Mallory and Nicole's twitter feeds have been pretty great if you're enjoying the schadenfreude of white guys getting mad about the article. This tweet was especially interesting to me and seemed to get to the heart of most of the outrage:

@Nicole_Cliffe @mallelis Funny. To stoke the ire of white men, just call them "white men". They're so unaccustomed to being marked/grouped. -@thesadheight
posted by DynamiteToast at 2:17 PM on May 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


Also, I think if your first reaction was to get out a pen and paper and start a tally of how many books you owned/read, then there's like a 80% chance you were gonna miss the joke.
posted by DynamiteToast at 2:19 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Oh man, I just got to the deleted comments post, and sad rainy David Tennant is so perfect. I am literally all the way dying.
posted by Errant at 2:20 PM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


I do not have 63 of those books.

Does this mean I have to turn in my "white man" card? Because I kind of need that, y'know, to avoid getting pulled over and all.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:26 PM on May 13, 2015


The deleted comments are pure gold, and hit every square on my Angry Manbaby bingo card.

What's up with the recurrence of "catlady" though? Is this some new MRA meme?
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:30 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane: "What's up with the recurrence of "catlady" though? Is this some new MRA meme?"

shorthand for "sad unmarried woman who hates manly men" or etc.
posted by boo_radley at 2:33 PM on May 13, 2015


What's up with the recurrence of "catlady" though? Is this some new MRA meme?

Some losers just love to use insulting stereotypey names for people who disagree with them about gender stuff. Best to just ignore it most of the time.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:34 PM on May 13, 2015


Subtle.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:40 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's fun to read through the list and, for each one, imagine a cartoonish one-dimensional dude who considers that book central to their identity.
posted by aubilenon at 2:40 PM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


Subtle.

iain'tevenmadtho.gif
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:41 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Misogynists have to constantly bring in new and exciting phrases to show off their misogyny.

It's fun to read through the list and, for each one, imagine a cartoonish one-dimensional dude who considers that book central to their identity.

And then imagine spending 30 seconds on their OKCupid profile before skipping it without it leaving a trace
posted by NoraReed at 2:42 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


So I'm starting to think the "y'all are so incensed" comments don't mean "I actually think y'all are incensed" so much as "this thread is like the Who's On First routine, so I'm gonna pretend that I don't understand what you're saying so that you explain it again". Like superlight trolling.

Now, people being incensed in The Toast's comment section, or Twitter? I totally believe that, but there's no way in heck I'm going to voluntarily read the comments on another website, let alone the cesspit of Twitter.
posted by Bugbread at 2:52 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's fun to read through the list and, for each one, imagine a cartoonish one-dimensional dude who considers that book central to their identity.

goddammit fine just give the whole thing away why don't you
posted by Errant at 2:52 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Imagine beans, falling on a human face, forever.
posted by emjaybee at 2:56 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's really more of a pool than a pit, tbh.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:56 PM on May 13, 2015


I don't get the fuss. The lack of Charles Bukowski makes this list invalid anyway.
posted by bgal81 at 2:58 PM on May 13, 2015


I'm imagining the author laying 79 slices of white bread on the living room floor in front of the door, then hiding behind the couch, stifling giggles, until her flatmate Dave walks in the door.

"Why is th--" he starts to say but is interrupted by Nicole leaping out from behind the couch, borne on a buffeting gale of hilarity.

"THAT'S U LOL LOL THAT'S YOU HAHAHAHAHAAHAHHHAHAHA"

He stands there, puzzled, waiting for her to finish. He quite likes white bread, though is happy enough with brown and has heard it's healthier, so, you know.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:58 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


The better analogy would be for her to post a picture of the 79 slices of white bread on instagram, then sit back and watch with growing delight as she accrues 10,000 comments from white men who just have to patronizingly tell her that they don't eat white bread at all and that she missed her intended target completely, or they do eat white bread but everyone eats white bread, etc. This would also be very funny to read.
posted by naju at 3:04 PM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


So it's like if she wrote a piece that was like "what is it with how every time you go to a party in Brooklyn people are eating chicken pot pie" and Brooklyn people went apeshit like "what are you talking about I have literally never heard of that" and she was like "ha ha Brooklyn, made you Brooklyn?"
posted by escabeche at 3:09 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


The lack of Charles Bukowski makes this list invalid anyway.

This is the first good criticism of the list that I have seen.
posted by dialetheia at 3:11 PM on May 13, 2015


Could Brooklyn make Pot Pies trendy? I would be thankful if you would, Brooklyn. I can't seem to ever find any good vegetarian ones and pies aren't in my cooking repertoire yet.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:11 PM on May 13, 2015


So it's like if she wrote a piece that was like "what is it with how every time you go to a party in Brooklyn people are eating chicken pot pie" and Brooklyn people went apeshit like "what are you talking about I have literally never heard of that" and she was like "ha ha Brooklyn, made you Brooklyn?"

I think maybe you're not getting that this exact dynamic plays out with white dudes on twitter, facebook, and everywhere else on the internet, every single day, and she just baited a particularly delicious trap so we can all watch the extra-absurd version of it.
posted by naju at 3:12 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


No, it's like if she said "condiments literally every white man uses: sriracha, grey poupon, nutella, artisanal ketchup, pepper, mayonnaise, baconnaise, butter" and literally every white man said "What, so it's bad if I like pepper now?" or "FUCK U BITCH I DON'T EVEN LIKE CONDIBLENTS" or "haha you forgot salt, you stupid feminist".
posted by Errant at 3:18 PM on May 13, 2015 [28 favorites]


The better analogy would be for her to post a picture of the 79 slices of white bread on instagram, then sit back and watch with growing delight as she accrues 10,000 comments from white men who just have to patronizingly tell her that they don't eat white bread at all and that she missed her intended target completely, or they do eat white bread but everyone eats white bread, etc. This would also be very funny to read.

lol yes that would also be hilarious
posted by Sebmojo at 3:18 PM on May 13, 2015


Literally every white man on MetaFilter is so mad right now.

I've been literally mad since I was nine.
posted by philip-random at 3:20 PM on May 13, 2015


This is the first good criticism of the list that I have seen.

In my experience men don't actually read Charles Bukowski. Like Ayn Rand and Albert Camus, the only fans I've met have been women.
posted by clarknova at 3:22 PM on May 13, 2015


I have avoided reading Bukowski for the pettiest of reasons. Not the movie Barfly, or even his fans, but because of the RHCP lyric, "I'm on the porch 'cause I lost my house key./ Pick up my book, I read Bukowski."

I'm sorry, I just can't.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:26 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


clarknova: "In my experience men don't actually read Charles Bukowski."

Yeah, guys respect Bukowski but they read Kerouac and Burroughs.
posted by Bugbread at 3:28 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where's all the grousing at - is it on the Facebook? The Toast comments all seem uniformly good natured and chatty...?
posted by Sebmojo at 3:37 PM on May 13, 2015


ah:
posted by Sebmojo at 3:39 PM on May 13, 2015


Disagree guys, Bukowski is a total predictable mainstay of liberal-artsy guys who are just out of college and trying to romanticize their alcoholism and womanizing. Hence the joke. But cool, we can do the well-actually thing some more, that's fine too.
posted by dialetheia at 3:52 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


(not Bukowski-ist, in before #notallbukowskifans)
posted by dialetheia at 3:53 PM on May 13, 2015


Let me get this straight...

This entire thread here is about the following:
1. Why this is a hilarious list
2. Why this is not a hilarious list
3. How people who don't think it's hilarious are awful

500+ comments on this? Seriously, why? I'm genuinely curious.
posted by Edgewise at 3:56 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


The lack of Charles Bukowski makes this list invalid anyway.

This is the first good criticism of the list that I have seen.


HST, as mentioned, Beat stuff beyond Kerouac - maybe Burroughs is too gay for some guys I dunno but in my pseudo-sophisticated/bohemian dude circles he's de rigeur too. Marquez, Borges. More mid-century literary drunks like Carver and Cheever. More Important Russians. The list could go on for a long long time. But that whole thing here that seems to freak people out is that it's not an on-the-nose parody of a particular type of white dude.
posted by atoxyl at 3:57 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also while Shogun - which apparently inspired the list - is a stereotypical white dude story I suspect few guys in my generation actually read it. It just showed up some time a little ways before puberty. Dads have a lot to do with passing on these books, obviously.
posted by atoxyl at 3:59 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


500+ comments on this? Seriously, why? I'm genuinely curious.

Because modern white American/European masculinity and status anxiety, and just how goddamn sick literally everyone else is of it.

Also nerds.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 4:00 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


But that whole thing here that seems to freak people out is that it's not an on-the-nose parody of a particular type of white dude.

This is a great point and you're 100% right.
posted by dialetheia at 4:02 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Because modern white American/European masculinity and status anxiety, and just how goddamn sick literally everyone else is of it.

I'd say it's a combination of lists (everyone loves lists) about stuff that everyone's read (so everyone has an opinion) with a perfectly judged soupcon of genderbaiting.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:11 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


500+ comments on this? Seriously, why? I'm genuinely curious.

Because modern white American/European masculinity and status anxiety, and just how goddamn sick literally everyone else is of it.

Also nerds.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix


Man, even the books in the list are coming to life to make fun of the tears. That's got to hurt.
posted by Errant at 4:14 PM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'd say it's a combination of lists (everyone loves lists) about stuff that everyone's read (so everyone has an opinion) with a perfectly judged soupcon of genderbaiting.

Also class and race-as-class-proxy baiting!

I mean, it's a trolly list but the reaction to it is exactly what it was intended to invoke, and then, as I said: nerds. Nerds gonna nerd. Nerds gonna nerd for 500 comments.

Disclaimer: am nerd, love nerds, nerd pride, go nerds. But still: nerds.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 4:15 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


But that whole thing here that seems to freak people out is that it's not an on-the-nose parody of a particular type of white dude.

This is a great point and you're 100% right.,


If it were a shot at the guy who loves Tucker Max very few people here (or at The Toast) would be complaining because very few of us are that guy. If it were a shot at a stereotype of a guy who makes a big deal about reading Gravity's Rainbow - or the in between guy in between who loves Palahniuk, or the wannabe-Kesey/Kerouac, etc. - only that guy who recognizes himself in the description would offended and everybody else would go "whew not me that guy sucks." But in throwing all that stuff together it's kind of a combined "oh aren't you so interesting" bait thrown in front of white guys in general.
posted by atoxyl at 4:20 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Master and Margarita Mix: "Nerds gonna nerd. Nerds gonna nerd for 500 comments."

Specifically, MeFites. While I love many things about MetaFilter, I don't recommend it to other people because I consider MetaFilter "the site where people go to discuss why and how they don't like things". And now you've got a post that applies to like 50% of MeFites (maybe more, that's just a guess), so you've got all the ingredients to turn the standard MeFi "This is why the posted link is bad" thread into a superthread.

That said, I'm almost disappointed that this hasn't spawned a MeTa thread. You'd figure with all the rage and apoplexy and whatnot that apparently is being stealthily cloaked in the "I don't get it" comments we could start up a good MeTa that spun out of control and resulted in a few good posters on both side of the issue hitting the Big Red Button, but literally all the white men in the thread are so angry they can't make out the MetaTalk link through their boiling tears.
posted by Bugbread at 4:22 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I mean, it's a trolly list but the reaction to it is exactly what it was intended to invoke

I know, I know, 'trap sprung, made you look', but if that link I posted before is the implied deluge of white dude tears it seems a little... weaksauce?

From five minutes of scrolling and tapping it seems like a non-hyperbolic 95% of the comments are just good-natured chitchat with a similar tone to this thread.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:23 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I mean, it's a trolly list but the reaction to it is exactly what it was intended to invoke

Yeah, it's been great to see everybody be so outraged at what is really just a piece of inconsequential fluff. Didn't dream y'all would be so defensive to the point of specifying which of those books you have or haven't got lying around. I don't understand that at all.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:25 PM on May 13, 2015


From five minutes of scrolling and tapping it seems like a non-hyperbolic 99% of the comments are just good-natured chitchat with a similar tone to this thread.

That's because The Toast is deleting all the really egregious ones, I reckon. They're not less moderated than MeFi, just moderated very, very differently.

Yeah, it's been great to see everybody be so outraged at what is really just a piece of inconsequential fluff. Didn't dream y'all would be so defensive to the point of specifying which of those books you have or haven't got lying around. I don't understand that at all.

Indulging in the narcissism of petty difference as a psychic defense against narcissistic injury.

Like, I'm not even kidding.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 4:26 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


MartinWisse: "Didn't dream y'all would be so defensive to the point of specifying which of those books you have or haven't got lying around. I don't understand that at all."

Uh...dude, you titled your own post "1, 2, 3, 7, 9, definitely not 11, 18 but not 25, hell no to 26 or 33". How could you not dream that other people would also specify their book collection?

(Because as a white man you're a special and unique snowflake?)
posted by Bugbread at 4:29 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


You'd figure with all the rage and apoplexy and whatnot that apparently is being stealthily cloaked in the "I don't get it" comments we could start up a good MeTa that spun out of control and resulted in a few good posters on both side of the issue hitting the Big Red Button, but literally all the white men in the thread are so angry they can't make out the MetaTalk link through their boiling tears.

That's the thing; I don't see any rage in this thread. All the rage is in replies to the original post. Are people really imagining that there's a lot of butthurt here? I do see a few people who don't find it to be particularly funny or on the mark, but just because you really want to imagine them as being outraged doesn't mean it's true. My confusion about what's feeding this thread is deep and genuine. Maybe because there are 500+ freaking comments, I somehow missed the tempestuous debate somewhere around comment 346. Oh well, as long as people are enjoying themselves.
posted by Edgewise at 4:31 PM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Blah blah blah went the trolly
Whinge whinge whinge went the nerds
Click click click went the pageviews
Though Cliffe's not as good as Ortberg
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:33 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


This thread is pretty much already a Meta of itself, given the heavy mod participation and weird jokey derails. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a Meta in the works for a much uglier thread going on at the moment though.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:36 PM on May 13, 2015


This thread is like a seven layer salad of people not appreciating that they're mostly being teased.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:37 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Treaty of Westphalia in 3...2...1...
posted by Bugbread at 4:37 PM on May 13, 2015


(Because as a white man you're a special and unique snowflake?)

Duh.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:40 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Do Reader's Digest Condensed Books count?
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:41 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oooh, Nietzsche! He didn't make the original list did he?
posted by atoxyl at 4:42 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


MartinWisse: "Didn't dream y'all would be so defensive to the point of specifying which of those books you have or haven't got lying around. I don't understand that at all."

Uh...dude, you titled your own post "1, 2, 3, 7, 9, definitely not 11, 18 but not 25, hell no to 26 or 33". How could you not dream that other people would also specify their book collection?


This is the crab canon technique of simultaneous retrogression and inversion (you can find it mansplained in Godel Escher Bach (third shelf from the bottom)).
posted by batfish at 4:42 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


They count double.
posted by Errant at 4:42 PM on May 13, 2015


Do Reader's Digest Condensed Books count?

That's like at least two tax brackets below where the piece is aimed, I think.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 4:42 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


> This thread is like a seven layer salad of people not appreciating that they're mostly being teased.

You know what you do when the person you're teasing makes it pretty obvious that they're not appreciating being teased?

You stop teasing them. It's pretty fucking simple. You stop.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:51 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


(I'm still more hung up on a particular stereotype/subtype than the good Ms. Cliffe is here. But if you have one book of philosophy it's probably gonna be ol' Freddy Mustache)
posted by atoxyl at 4:54 PM on May 13, 2015


"WHY ARE YOU TEASING YOURSELF? WHY ARE YOU TEASING YOURSELF?"
posted by 99_ at 4:54 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


This thread reminds me of arguments my wife and I had early in our marriage, where one person would assume the other was angry, and refuse to believe any explanations to the contrary, until the other person actually did become angry, and the first person said "See, I knew you were angry".

(We swapped out roles pretty evenly, but thankfully it's been years since we've had one of those fights)
posted by Bugbread at 4:58 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


I didn't find the post or the thread funny. The thread came off really patronising and kind of mean as users came in to laugh at people getting upset or confused? This whole thing was weird.
posted by liquorice at 4:58 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


White dudes getting angry over a list of best selling books they might own is pretty funny though and I think it's okay (and not cruel) to have a laugh about it.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:02 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Is "Mine Kamp" listed under travelogue?
posted by clavdivs at 5:02 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Re: "What if this was a list about black men / white women / [minority group]" - I know people probably aren't asking this in good faith, but I wager it would actually go over very differently.

Like, for me as an Indian:

List of works literally every Indian-American guy is familiar with:
1. The films of Satyajit Ray
2. Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt
3. Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies
4. The latest Bollywood movie starring Abhishek Bachchan
5. Collected works of Rabindranath Tagore
6. Bad Boys II
7. Sufjan Stevens' Illinois
8. ...

Indians, from the very beginning, would be laughing at the on-its-face absurdity of the list. We might talk about how it's a curiously off attempt at stereotype, what it says about our cultural displacement/confusion and what art we experience, collective culture of the diaspora, maybe it would lead to some fun and some genuine insight. We wouldn't go hundreds of comments like "This list is way off, I haven't seen any Satyajit Ray movies! Do you even know any Indians?" Sure there'd be some of that, but for the most part, we'd know that something was off immediately, probably intentionally for comedy. The reaction wouldn't be apopletic, so the entire endeavor would lose meaning as a provocation. It's worth thinking about why the reaction from white men in particular is this way, though. They're used to their views and art tastes being default, fluid, and unimpeachable. They're used to their opinions and critiques having assumed value in internet discourse, and they're used to taking the lead in discussions and controlling the perspective in them. They avoid monolithic description and outsiders displacing their identity by virtue of having the dominant, default take on things. They have none of the experiences to prepare them for a mild, prank-ish displacement of their fluid, unimpeachable status. "Describe your group and tastes, get it wrong" is something that happens to minorities every day, we barely even notice it sometimes; but if it happens to a white man, for the reasons above, he has to Let You Know About It because it's a very serious thing and you got it wrong, and you're controlling my perspective of me and that's not allowed to happen, that's not how it works.
posted by naju at 5:06 PM on May 13, 2015 [32 favorites]


MoonOrb: You're right, of course. There's nothing necessarily cruel about having a laugh about it. But it's just this vibe that I'm getting from this thread that makes the atmosphere of MeFi feel unsupportive and that's not what I come here for. Which is fine, because I can just leave the thread, but I thought I'd make my thoughts heard too.
posted by liquorice at 5:09 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


naju: "The reaction wouldn't be apopletic"

So it would be pretty similar to this thread, then?
posted by Bugbread at 5:14 PM on May 13, 2015


"Describe your group and tastes, get it wrong" is something that happens to minorities every day, we barely even notice it sometimes; but if it happens to a white man, for the reasons above, he has to Let You Know About It because it's a very serious thing and you got it wrong, and you're controlling my perspective of me and that's not allowed to happen, that's not how it works.

Beautiful.

Just today, it was reported that the Austin City Council has apparently brough special speakers in to "deal with" the fact that the council is now woman-majority. So now city staff need to be aware, when speaking to the Council, that "women don't like numbers" and "ask lots of questions".
posted by emjaybee at 5:15 PM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


So it would be pretty similar to this thread, then?

Not saying this thread is apoplectic, exactly, but it's filled with lots of Have To Let You Know You're Wrong. For apoplectic, that "Deleted Comments" thing at the Toast has been linked half a dozen times by now, go read it.
posted by naju at 5:15 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


we'd know that something was off immediately, probably intentionally for comedy

This is definitely how I reacted. It took me a little bit to puzzle out where that feeling was coming from and why they'd written it that way. The real entertainment has been the reactions which are always some combination of amusing and fascinating. Even the ones here where there's basically none of the rage or misogyny found other places. The worst we got here was ... I guess the word I'd use is "huffiness." Upon preview, "Have To Let You Know You're Wrong" is a good way of putting it.

The other major part of my reaction definitely falls under the "it's also a rorschach test" variety. I'm not going to unpack why I ever felt this way at all and sometimes still do in a greatly reduced way, but I think it's very telling that my reaction after first reading through the list was to go through and count how many applied to me. My reaction to said count was basically, "Hmm... Only about 25%, guess I'm (still) bad at being a (straight, white) man." And thinking about where that thought came from has been interesting/healthy.

I know there's a lot of people that separate The Toast into "Ortberg" and "lesser beings," but I think this time a lesser being really struck a nerve in an interesting way.
posted by sparkletone at 5:17 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


naju: "Not saying this thread is apopletic, exactly, but it's filled with lots of Have To Let You Know You're Wrong."

Well, yeah, it's a MeFi thread.

naju: "For apopletic, that "Deleted Posts" thing at the Toast has been linked half a dozen times by now, go read it."

THAT part I totally get. Anyone saying "It's amusing/amazing/frustrating/typical how the white males on the Internet are raging about this", I totally grok. I was just talking about this thread, not the cesspit at large.
posted by Bugbread at 5:20 PM on May 13, 2015




liquorice, fair enough, but I hope it's also okay to point out that on those rare occasions when MetaFilter isn't feeling like it has a supportive vibe for white men, there are likely other places both on and off the web where we can find that support.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:22 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I wonder how much of this thread is self-feeding, too. Like, I read the list, and it neither offended nor amused nor puzzled me. I just assumed it was a quickly dashed off list. So normally I wouldn't even have gotten drawn into a conversation. But there were some funny comments in the thread by the point that I read it. And some conflict. And nothing draws a person into a thread more than 1) humor and 2) conflict. So my voice got added. And I'm sure I pissed someone else off by accident, so that probably created more conflict, increasing the magnetic power of the thread. Now it's self-powered. The original list could be deleted and new commenters would probably drop into the thread anyway, sucked in like a moth to a tractor beam.
posted by Bugbread at 5:26 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


But it's just this vibe that I'm getting from this thread that makes the atmosphere of MeFi feel unsupportive and that's not what I come here for.

What support do you actually want? I mean, if you're going to accuse MeFi collectively of failing you, what is it exactly that you want/think you deserve that you're not getting?
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 5:30 PM on May 13, 2015


The link is an extremely dry, sort of slapdash observational bit. Drier than McSweeney's. You ever notice that literally every white guy owns these books? Everything else comes from inside the heads of (we) commentators, which is what makes this such a fantastic instance of old-school, classical, trolling - probably way way more so than the author ever anticipated.
posted by atoxyl at 5:34 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


White guys: you know how sometimes you're lying around with your partner, and you say something innocuous, and they start laughing but you don't know what you said, and you say "what's so funny, I don't get it", and they try to explain to no avail, and you just shake your head and say, "I don't think I'll ever totally understand you" because you're in a by-the-numbers romantic comedy, and they just squeeze you tighter and say, "I know", and you're confused but also weirdly feel kind of at peace, and it's ok that you're a little confused because everyone seems happy so it seems fine? That's the thing that should happen after something like this. Just say you'll never totally understand us so we can hug you. You don't always have to get it. You just have to trust that we like you and wouldn't be laughing scornfully at you.
posted by Errant at 5:35 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


it's really hard for these white men to have their complaints about this list construed as anger/rage/etc when they totally aren't actually mad/enraged/salty/etc. i don't think those of us who aren't white men could possibly understand what it would be like to have the things that we say interpreted like that.
posted by NoraReed at 5:36 PM on May 13, 2015 [29 favorites]


But that whole thing here that seems to freak people out is that it's not an on-the-nose parody of a particular type of white dude.

That's half of it, but the other half of it is that enough of the titles are evocative of an on-the-nose parody to suggest that it is one.

If it were more simply on the nose, it could be understood and dismissed. If it were more obviously random, it could be dismissed. But instead it suggests a logic that just escapes the reader, implying that a sentence or two will explain the joke - like a dispatch from a neighboring universe where fashion developed slightly differently.
posted by wotsac at 5:40 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


MoonOrb: I'm not white or male and I've generally felt very supported on MeFi, it wasn't about (for me) that white men felt unsupported but that the community didn't feel very much like a community.

The Master and Margarita Mix: I come to MeFi to read "healthy, respectful discussion". This thread didn't/doesn't exactly feel like either of those things.
posted by liquorice at 5:40 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


Just say you'll never totally understand us so we can hug you. You don't always have to get it.

My first resort was to show the list to my wife and ask her what it means. She didn't know either, and was unimpressed when I later told her it was a troll of some kind. Maybe it shows we're well suited to each other, I suppose.
posted by fivebells at 5:46 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


MoonOrb: I'm not white or male and I've generally felt very supported on MeFi, it wasn't about (for me) that white men felt unsupported but that the community didn't feel very much like a community.

The Master and Margarita Mix: I come to MeFi to read "healthy, respectful discussion". This thread didn't/doesn't exactly feel like either of those things.


There are some people who are just jerks who use this sort of thing as an excuse for their usual axe grinding, but for the most part I don't think this thread has gone beyond playful teasing like Errant describes. It's not the sort of thread I would want to see every day but as a one off it was pretty entertaining in a crazy way.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:47 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


That's true, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered to read the 500+ comments. I was pulled in!
posted by liquorice at 5:48 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


No worries liquorice, I think this thread is a delight; I appreciate that YMMV.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:49 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


NoraReed: "i don't think those of us who aren't white men could possibly understand what it would be like to have the things that we say interpreted like that."

I get the sarcasm, but I don't get the point. Yeah, everyone knows what it feels like to be misinterpreted. It's not exactly an invisible backpack revelation.
posted by Bugbread at 5:53 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


The point is that people often read women as being "angry" and "emotional" when they're just expressing themselves. It's a thing that happens.
posted by dialetheia at 6:03 PM on May 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


GAMMA WORLD SEXISM!
posted by clavdivs at 6:05 PM on May 13, 2015


Drinky's right, it's been mostly playful (past the midway point anyway), and he even threw the Reverse Sexism Card at me a little earlier. Was it sincere, or a bit of wordplay? Don't know, and it doesn't matter. In the end, it's just a list of books.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:06 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


One would think that having a negative experience would make someone not want to engage in the same behavior, but the world is a strange and mysterious place.
posted by Bugbread at 6:10 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


One would think that having a negative experience would make someone not want to engage in the same behavior, but the world is a strange and mysterious place.

It's fine when it's just teasing or satirizing to make a point. Just don't fall into the trap of thinking an eye for an eye is a valid long term strategy.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:12 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I get the sarcasm, but I don't get the point.

men.txt
posted by NoraReed at 6:13 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


NoraReed: "men.txt"

women.rtf
posted by Bugbread at 6:14 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


zombo.com
posted by Drinky Die at 6:17 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]




Being sore when the narrative/viewpoint isn't controlled in the way you're used to (i.e., "white men's reaction to the list hasn't been apoplectic, you're wrong") is precisely the sort of thing I'm talking about - again, women and minorities are used to control of the discussion being in the hands of white men by default. The displacement of white men's views/tastes/value in the discourse is healthy to experience, to get a sense of what the list, and everyone laughing about the reaction to the list, is on about.
posted by naju at 6:20 PM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


So...trolling is healthy?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:21 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I believe it can be! This sort of trolling can lead to healthy learning experiences. It's a destabilizing.
posted by naju at 6:23 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


The inimitably stern Fredrik DeBoer disapproves mightily of the white manbooks list: maybe time for change. "Within progressivism today, there is an absolute lack of shame or self-criticism about reducing racial discourse to a matter of straightforward personal branding and social signaling. It turns my stomach." (Linking this does not imply approval of it.)
posted by koeselitz at 6:32 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am figuratively never, ever going to get tired of seeing that link.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:34 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's only "trolling" because it's so predictable that people would throw fits about it. All she did was write a silly joke list of some mainstream books, which happened to identify white men as a group of people. I'd say a good 30% of the pissy comments (fewer here but plenty elsewhere) were primarily upset about being identified as belonging to a race or a gender at all - "why do you have to racialize and genderize this?!" as if they don't belong to any race or gender by privilege of being the "default".

The other 70% just wanted to argue about the list, which there are a lot of ways to interpret but which ultimately completely misses the point of the joke in the first place, which is that white men's opinions tend to be overvalued in our culture. I think it's been spelled out enough at this point that most of the joke is just that most mainstream books are things that white dudes love and approve of, and that when we say "what everyone likes" we're almost always saying "what white men like". That's it. That's the joke. And so when a bunch of white men instantly respond with "Don't you know anything about men? That's not what I like! What I like is blah blah blah blah blah" it's just ... kind of funny is all. That's all that really happened.
posted by dialetheia at 6:47 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


"Ha! Take that white men. Oh you mad? Little crybabies, it's just a joke; you see, [insert smug, condescending lecture]"
"Gosh, why do people keep voting for Republicans?!"
posted by MattMangels at 6:56 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


That is to say, I think any trolling was an inadvertent emergent property arising from the lack of perspective which was the very focus of the joke.
posted by dialetheia at 6:57 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Gosh, why do people keep voting for Republicans?!"

"Stupid women, I'm going to ruin the country just because you hurt my feelings!"
posted by dialetheia at 7:00 PM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


"I think women are laughing at me, I better vote for policies that kill them. Why, no, I've never heard of Margaret Atwood, but she sounds hot."
posted by Errant at 7:04 PM on May 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


But that's the thing! If anyone actually read Freddie deBoer's critiques instead of brushing him off as "haha look at this pissed-off white crybaby" you'd understand that that is unforunately how human psychology works! Lots of white men are struggling their asses off in this country, and all they get from the left is "STFU you fountain of privilege". Of course they are going to be spiteful and vote Republican.

I think "look at this demographic and their stereotypes haha" is something best left to the conservative side of the aisle. I think we liberals are better than that.
posted by MattMangels at 7:04 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Do they even still have Reader's Digest Condensed Books?
posted by Chrysostom at 7:08 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think we liberals are better than that.

Fuck that. Laying the blame for woman-hating, minority-hating Republicans gaining power at the feet of ... women and minorities for laughing at white men? Are you kidding me? That doesn't sound like a liberal point of view; it sounds like a tone argument made into a political position. Don't tease, don't cajole, don't poke fun, play nice, and for god's sake don't get angry at any white man - lest one of those men be one of those who are actually one of the good ones! - for otherwise you will bring on the wrath of white men who hate you even more. This is simply apologist nonsense.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:09 PM on May 13, 2015 [25 favorites]


The biggest misconception in modern leftist discourse is a confusion between the way the world should be and the way it actually is. Yes, it is silly that men vote Republican because women laugh at them. But it's true. There it is. What are you going to do with that? It seems that Conservatism is such an insurmountable problem in America that liberal-minded people have essentially admitted defeat and choose to believe the world is different than it actually is.
posted by MattMangels at 7:09 PM on May 13, 2015


What are you going to do with that? It seems that Conservatism is such an insurmountable problem in America that liberal-minded people have essentially admitted defeat and choose to believe the world is different than it actually is.

Playing nice with closed minded bigots has yet to historically yield any advances for progressivism. That's "the way the world is", if we're using such grand statements. Men progressive enough to laugh at themselves or see that speaking of male privilege is not a personal affront will happily work for change.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:13 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I used to be a regular on Free Republic back during the Bush years because I'm so strongly pro-life. That was right up until someone there said something mean about my local football team. Now I vote Democratic every election. Sure showed them, enjoy your Obama, idiots!
posted by Drinky Die at 7:14 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Playing nice with closed minded bigots has yet to historically yield any advances for progressivism.

Neither has lazy stereotyping about white men.
posted by MattMangels at 7:15 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well shit, good thing it's just a list of books and not a political campaign.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:17 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


nicole cliffe has literally never stopped the patriarchy with a quick joke! checkmate, feminists!

are you serious? can you not?
posted by nadawi at 7:17 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]




You know I've never tried beans on toast? That seems like something I need to correct.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:21 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Am I supposed to eat it with my hands like some kind of bean pizza or with a knife and fork?
posted by Drinky Die at 7:25 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


[It's totally legit to talk about the purpose and success/failure of articles like this. If, however, we could stay away from one-liner sarcasm it'd probably go better. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:35 PM on May 13, 2015


Well, I'll guarantee you that the purpose of this article is not to attract votes for Democrats, so.
posted by dialetheia at 7:37 PM on May 13, 2015


It was to attract votes for Republicans apparently.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:41 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


You can eat pizza with a knife and fork. I've been places where it's bad manners to eat it with your hands. I assume beans-on-bread customs vary region to region.
posted by clarknova at 7:53 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Neither has lazy stereotyping about white men.

FUN FACT: Not everything that feminists do is for the amusement of men or to get men to treat us with basic decency or whatever else. Sometimes, feminists enjoy making jokes that are at the expense of men! Since men hold pretty much all the power in society, whether that power is in media, economics, politics, or elsewhere, there's a lot to make fun of, because society is pretty much completely fucked up and terrible, especially for women!

Some men are capable of being empathetic to the perspective of women, and so they sometimes are amused by these jokes. Not all men are capable of that, though! Because men are both socialized to think their opinion about everything matters AND that all media everywhere is made to cater to them, when something even as gently ribbing as this comes up, threads like this happen.
posted by NoraReed at 7:54 PM on May 13, 2015 [30 favorites]


I am amazed that this thread is still going. I half expect it to scream "TETSUOOOOOOOOO!"
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:55 PM on May 13, 2015 [11 favorites]


Also, people who say "I will not support (GROUP)'s attempts to be treated as human beings because a member of (GROUP) was mean to me once" were never allies to begin with and no amount of niceness will ever convince them. Their repeated statements of this are attempts to police the behavior of the marginalized.
posted by NoraReed at 7:56 PM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


You can eat pizza with a knife and fork. I've been places where it's bad manners to eat it with your hands.

This thread is trolly enough without trying to bait Jon Stewart to show up.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:57 PM on May 13, 2015


You know what's better than jumping a shark?

Jumping twelve sharks!
posted by clarknova at 7:59 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am amazed that this thread is still going. I half expect it to scream "TETSUOOOOOOOOO!"

Well actually not all men like anime so you should stay in a safe location until the horde of sea lions show up to gently interrogate you ad infinitum.
posted by winna at 8:01 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


When we hearken back to this post/thread/international incident in the future, I submit that we refer to it as "The Toastening".
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:03 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm continuing to reply ironically; the rest of you just don't get the joke.
posted by 99_ at 8:07 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm coming up with a figure of 81%. 81% of the titles are book-of-the-month titles.

We are laughing at Publishers Clearing House.
posted by clavdivs at 8:20 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


s/laughing/whining
posted by NoraReed at 8:22 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Whatever all our other differences, I think we can all agree that butts
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:25 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well actually not all men like anime so you should stay in a safe location until the horde of sea lions show up to gently interrogate you ad infinitum.

EXCUSE ME BUT DO YOU HAVE ANY EVIDENCE TO BACK UP YOUR CLAIMS THAT NOT ALL MEN LIKE ANIME???
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:27 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Actually, it's about ethics in literary criticism.
posted by Errant at 8:29 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Attention all employees: there will be an all-day meeting to discuss our company's anime policies. Please meet in Conference Room 1. There will be no bathroom breaks or food, so please prepare accordingly.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:30 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


(Tapes iPhone behind Pop machine)
posted by clavdivs at 8:38 PM on May 13, 2015


1. Talking shit about the Big Three will no longer be tolerated on the grounds that it has been done to death.
2. Your waifu isn't real.
3. No one understood The End of Evangelion. And that's OK.
4. Please hide your power levels on company time.
5. Can you watch a series without having to rely on suspicious fansub groups? Who cares?
6. There is no such thing as a "best" video player.
7. Please stop drawing Konata from Lucky Star on the conference room whiteboard.
8. Again, your waifu isn't real.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:38 PM on May 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


" No one understood The End of Evangelion. And that's OK."

I understood it.

You take biblical and philosophical concepts, along with various plot tropes, and write them down on little pieces of paper and put them into a top hat. Then you draw the papers and write them down into a script. The depth of the hat controls the length of the script. Rinse. Repeat.
posted by I-baLL at 8:53 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm coming up with a figure of 81%. 81% of the titles are book-of-the-month titles.

I was wondering! The list gave off a pretty strong Hospital Book Sale vibe, just missing Howard Fast, Arthur Hailey, and Jacqueline Susann.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:59 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I understood it.

You take biblical and philosophical concepts, along with various plot tropes, and...


10/10 would kek again.
posted by clarknova at 9:08 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Okay, I apologize for being a little bit more serious here, but maybe it would help some people to explain just why I think this is so funny.

Look, I'm a white man. Heck, I'm the sort of white man who will vehemently argue that 'white' is not an ethnicity, dammit. However, I'm also bi. Even in my highly sheltered, liberal enclave life, I still have to deal with that bigot who makes cracks like "silly faggot, dicks are for chicks" who's a friend of a friend and with a bunch of whiny teenagers in online games complaining about how their team is 'so gay' and 'sucks dick' because they happen to be losing. So when someone comes along and says, 'you know what's wrong with you people? Your literary tastes are so middlebrow!' it comes across as a hilarious joke in the Arson, murder, and jaywalking vein. (Apologies for the TVtropes link)

As to why the white dude reactions to it are funny... it's just that for someone who has to deal with any sort of bigotry or microaggressions on a regular basis, something like that is so far below threatening or even warranting a response, it's like a rubber snake. And reactions along "well that snake's not very scary" or "you could make that snake more realistic" are still kinda funny.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:26 PM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


And just to be clear, any of those problems I complained about there, I am sure come across as 'Oh, cry me a river' sorts of things to anyone who has actually experienced serious discrimination or bigotry that made them feel unsafe, so from my vantage point I'm probably experiencing the minimum level of ridiculousness of this particular situation. So to pretty much anyone, this thing only gets more ridiculous.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:34 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


wow, it must take some really heavy internalized misandry to plant your flag on "Men are too irrational and emotional to stop themselves from voting Republican if a woman makes a joke"
posted by kagredon at 10:11 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


To be fair part of the joke is that they probably own a copy of The Da Vinci Code, the shame of which is liable to make someone not think rationally about anything.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:16 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is the best troll in the entire history of trolling and Nicole Cliffe deservedly wins the Best Troll Ever Prize.

I doff my battered fedora to her, forever, while shedding a small involuntary tear at the incredible gift she has given us all. Where Adequacy, back in pre-history, once gave us a sketch of the vague outlines of the territory, Cliffe has taken the basic principles, then enhanced them, focussed them, brought them up to date, and subsequently done other stuff I cannot even guess at in order to punch a big hole in actual reality.

Adequacy never managed that. I may never stop giggling.

Actually, Godel, Escher, Bach is a *really good read*...

I never had anything to do with Adequacy except as a reader. Thanks.
posted by motty at 10:21 PM on May 13, 2015


also, there is actual research that is conducted on how people react to jokes and why and how it relates to prejudice and power much of it seems to suggest Yes, it is silly that men vote Republican because women laugh at them. But it's true. There it is. is...well, let's just say "not well-supported"
posted by kagredon at 10:33 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I doff my battered fedora to her, forever

I'm... confused, but hey, there are far stranger remarks in this thread.
posted by naju at 10:33 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: there are far stranger remarks
posted by kagredon at 10:37 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Robert Frost had a daemonic gift of always getting on the buttered side of God and Mammon"

-Randall Jarrell.
posted by clavdivs at 10:54 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


>I believe it can be! This sort of trolling can lead to healthy learning experiences. It's a destabilizing.

That's what literally every troll in the history of discourse has believed, though, is the thing.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:01 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


"For the record, I never feel guilty getting paid, ever."

-Daisey Fried
posted by clavdivs at 11:04 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's what literally every troll in the history of discourse has believed, though, is the thing.

I'm pretty sure at least some trolls were doing it for the lulz.

#notalltrolls
posted by kagredon at 11:42 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


ooh wait you were doing the thing with "literally"

you tricksy lulzster you got me, and I can't even mad because I walked right into it
posted by kagredon at 11:43 PM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Drinky Die: "I am figuratively never, ever going to get tired of seeing that link."

Well, if we could all get together and actually spell his name right, maybe people coming here to post it and searching (like I did) will find it and know it's be posted already.

It's Fredrik deBoer, apparently. His article "maybe time for change" has already been posted three times (at least?) for anyone keeping track.
posted by koeselitz at 11:45 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, if we could all get together [...]

Hahahahaha, hahahah. Haha. Hah. Hm.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:03 AM on May 14, 2015


I'm... confused, but hey, there are far stranger remarks in this thread.

Now I'm wondering if "Adequacy" is yet another kulturkampf buzzword I'll be forced to grok and take a stand on.

I'm hoping not.
posted by clarknova at 12:44 AM on May 14, 2015


I was pretty meh on the list, and then I saw the deleted comments - and this is AWESOME.

Also, there was this dude Fred de Boer or something - spelling is hard. I think everyone should read what he thinks.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:29 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Anybody have a link for a good response to the deBoer essay?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:51 AM on May 14, 2015


Quick someone tell Joseph Gurl what to think!

He needs ammo, goddamnit!
posted by clarknova at 1:54 AM on May 14, 2015


Good one.

(But for anyone interested in helping me get caught up--and of course it's nobody's duty to do so!--I really would like to read about that.)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:04 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anybody have a link for a good response to the deBoer essay?

Mallory gets him pretty good here made even better by his filibustering the reply thread.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:05 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Heh, that's a good zinger. Anything longer and more sustained/reasoned out there?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:07 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Now I'm wondering if "Adequacy" is yet another kulturkampf buzzword I'll be forced to grok and take a stand on

HTH HAND
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:11 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


HTH HAND

That is awesome.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:14 AM on May 14, 2015


I really didn't know how i felt about this until i saw the reaction to it. Like, yea, it's pretty much a list of books designed to piss off almost any kind of white guy.

But if there was something like the Pwnie Awards for trolling, this would get the Epic 0wnage one.

The list is mid-level clever on the surface, but the reactions it's engendered are top notch at demonstrating so many things. It starts with "how dare you, i'm a white man!" to why-does-it-have-to-be-about-race.

The nitpicks about specific books are boring, the reactions to the entire concept of the list or really making fun of white guys as a group at all are awesome.

11/10.
posted by emptythought at 2:30 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


In the interest of extra-credit drama I now feel I should apologize to Joseph Gurl. I assumed he was looking brainlessly for ammo against deBoer's argument for sanity in identity politics. It turns out his request for a reasoned refutation was as honest as it was hopeless. With such a let-down in store for him he didn't need mean-spirited comments from me to compound his disappointment in humanity.

Also he asked me to. Sorry buddy.
posted by clarknova at 5:01 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's almost breathtaking the way deBoer hauls out his White Guy Academic Toolbox to create pretty much an examplar of what people are making fun of.

First, he lays claim to the intellectual territory:

It’s yet another tired invocation of “white dudes love Catcher in the Rye!.” (Hey, you guys, seriously: nobody reads Catcher in the Rye anymore.)

Next, he minimizes it:

Hacky garbage getting defended on political grounds is a contagion for today’s progressives. Some of the most cynical people in the world right now are pumping out ostensibly progressive cultural writing.

And, of course, he condescends:

Mallory Ortberg has carved out a really unique voice and place online, but she seems like a victim of her own success.... her fans will call anything she does a work of genius no matter what, in part because they think doing so is somehow a meaningful political act, so there’s little incentive to branch out. I want her to do new, challenging things, just as a fan of her good work.

Finally, he over-reaches:

And none of this is even to begin to ask what, exactly, any of this stuff accomplishes, how continuing to build this immense shibboleth White Dudes — made by white people, for the entertainment of white people — actually helps in the fight against racism or sexism.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:16 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


But, like, is he wrong?

Does tone you don't like make people wrong?

Throw me a bone here.
posted by clarknova at 5:22 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


He is probably right but he's performatively contradicting himself. If he's really right, he shouldn't have written the piece.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:39 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


[Folks, it's already been suggested upthread that people back off a bit on the driveby sarcasm, and the focusing on other users as opposed to the topic at hand. This is me reiterating that request. Thank you.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 5:39 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


But, like, is he wrong?

Does tone you don't like make people wrong?


He isn't wrong that as a piece of comedy writing, leaving the extremely fussy reactions aside, this is a pretty sub-par piece for The Toast, but he doesn't quite manage to link his problem with that to his problem with the kind of thing we see in the first part of his essay, in which a person dismisses leftist criticisms of Obama's policy by comparing the president's critics to the murderers who killed Emmett Till and then dismisses criticisms of this analogy by saying they come from manarchist dudebros or whatever.

This tactic, I hope it goes without saying, is a totally vile way to use the memory of a lynching victim and much, much worse than anything we see from The Toast or from people who really like The Toast. I don't think deBoer's comparison is really proportionate.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:48 AM on May 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


You know what you do when the person you're teasing makes it pretty obvious that they're not appreciating being teased?

You stop teasing them. It's pretty fucking simple. You stop.


Um, this disregards the whole point of trolling, wherein you double down until something terrible happens. (Maybe not in a moderated and generally friendly place like Metafilter, which is a good thing, but in the wild west of the ugly old internet, objecting to being teased is like a teasing magnet.)
posted by theorique at 6:21 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


KANEDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA !!
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:25 AM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


This list is absurd. If every white male read even half these books, we as a group would be fabulously well-read by modern-day American standards.

Needless to say, we are not.
posted by evil otto at 7:09 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


it's almost as if absurdity is the point
posted by nadawi at 7:12 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


[clarknova, take a day off.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:16 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah I was going to make a comment about how the absurdity is incidental, and this is just poor comedy writing that is being meta-salvaged as a statement, but then I read the Best Of Deleted Comments link, and I can tell you this is _not_ a camp I want to be in.
posted by Dr Dracator at 7:58 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


A friend just linked me a reddit post from r/books. (I won't link it here, because reddit). The prompt was for everyone to list their favorite quotes from books. The significant overlap with Cliffe's list really validated it.
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:14 AM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


You know what's funny? People always say feminists don't have a sense of humor.
posted by theora55 at 8:37 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


um, it's just a joke. stop being so sensitive?
posted by ChuckRamone at 9:03 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


how many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

one.
posted by philip-random at 10:12 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


plus a million white guys to tell her she's destroying liberal discourse
posted by nom de poop at 10:26 AM on May 14, 2015 [20 favorites]


that list just proves Hitch was right
posted by 99_ at 10:49 AM on May 14, 2015


My valve!
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:55 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Holy crap. I didn't realize until just now that Fredrik de Boer was being serious. I skipped the first half and just jumped down to the relevant Toast portion and assumed it was a parody of a hilarious, over-the-top reaction.
posted by mhum at 11:59 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Am I supposed to know who Fredrik de Boer is? People keep tossing his name out here as if he's famous. I don't remember hearing of him before this thread.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:10 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


He's a blogger of some small repute. I see him more often as Freddie de Boer. He pops up sometimes on various Gawker Media sites in the comments, especially Deadspin. As far as I can tell, he's pretty much always like this.
posted by Errant at 12:15 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


This thread has been like going through the five stages of grief. I didn't get the joke. Now I see that white dudes got trolled. Good work I guess.

I for one am going to enjoy my white male privilege by just moving on by because you can mock white dudes as much as you want but it has zero effect on my personal white male life. No one is going to pre-judge me because other white males are rank idiots. Such is the power of privilege.
posted by GuyZero at 5:20 PM on May 14, 2015


So basically this was a nonsensical list designed to get people in a tizzy trying to figure out if they were being insulted or not? Well done I guess. I'll go back to not think about it.
posted by Justinian at 5:55 PM on May 14, 2015


I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me how saying "white men own a lot of popular and frequently acclaimed books" with the subtext of "because books become popular and frequently acclaimed by appealing to white men" could possibly be construed as mocking white men. Seriously, could you tell me what you find insulting about this list? Do you hate every book on it? Do you think everyone else hates every book on it? I don't understand how anyone could be offended by this, I really don't. I mean, I consider it a discredit that I haven't read more of these books than I have. How do you read this list as calling white men idiots? Seriously, I really want to know.
posted by Errant at 6:25 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a sort of perfect storm of stuff that white men on the internet CAN NOT HANDLE: generalizations based on their whiteness and maleness, jokes they do not get and jokes by women.
posted by NoraReed at 6:45 PM on May 14, 2015 [13 favorites]


36. Exodus, Leon Uris (if Jewish)

37. Trinity, Leon Uris ( if irish-american)
posted by clavdivs at 7:34 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I did have some fun at the expense of others in this thread. My previous comments and very likely my next one were pretty mean, to more than one group. I've been a bit depressed by how other threads have gone, and how personally attacking and victim-blaming they've been. Some of that carried over to this thread which I love, even though I truly enjoy the MetaFilter community, and hope all the people who recently left come back. Most of the time, I'll try to be appreciative of others feelings, and hopefully those feeling hurt can understand that we don't wish them harm.
posted by halifix at 8:16 PM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


But if they're not threatening you, sometimes white men are just so moe
posted by halifix at 8:16 PM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


tsundere privilege
posted by kagredon at 8:17 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


C'mon people we can get to 1000 comments so long as we keep repeating ourselves!
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:12 PM on May 14, 2015


C'mon people we can get to 1000 comments so long as we keep repeating ourselves!

WORKED FOR JOHN UPDIKE AMIRITE
posted by kagredon at 9:23 PM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Errant my theory is that the list paints white men as having super middlebrow tastes, which is super insulting because we all want to believe that we're not just like everyone else; and also because it purports to lump all white men into a homogenous group, which similarly I guess really gets a reaction out of folks too. I don't think it's reasonable for white guys to find this annoying, but that's my best guess.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:55 PM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I guess I'm just taken aback by the reaction to "middlebrow", I keep forgetting that's a thing. It's ok to like stuff a lot of people like, that stuff is super likeable and often really good, which is why people like it. But I hear you; thinking about it, I do have some friends who sniff at anything popular and love to be in the minority. I wonder at what point the tables will flip and The Da Vinci Code will join PBR and normcore in middle-class revival. "It's actually really good, you guys, open your mind."
posted by Errant at 10:31 PM on May 14, 2015


But see, lots of people who like middle brow shit want to either believe it's high brow (so worthy) or low brow (so fun).

"I don't think it's reasonable for white guys to find this annoying, but that's my best guess."

I was kinda more annoyed by the repeated insistence that no guy could legitimately find this meh either. But I'm hoping I can sell the rest of the "I Survived the 'Books That Literally all White men Own: The Definitive List' Micro-Aggression 2015" shirts in the MeFi mall.
posted by klangklangston at 11:13 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


36. Exodus, Leon Uris (if Jewish)

37. Trinity, Leon Uris ( if irish-american)


I have both.
(Catholic-Canadian ... until I hit fifteen anyway)
posted by philip-random at 11:33 PM on May 14, 2015


METAFILTER: Now I see that white dudes got trolled.
posted by philip-random at 11:34 PM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


You must hand over both your Uris's, the writers genome board demands it.

Funny, when ever I see copies of Uris, they almost always have intact dust jackets.

I find "John Adams" to be a work of supreme humour pointing out the follies of "independency" and for the shear audacity of Jefferson.
posted by clavdivs at 11:55 PM on May 14, 2015


age 12-17 ... there was always a Leon Uris book lying around in the parents pile. Exodus and Trinity were definitely page turners, but Mila 18 was the masterpiece
posted by philip-random at 12:46 AM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


WORKED FOR JOHN UPDIKE AMIRITE

love him
posted by edeezy at 1:37 AM on May 15, 2015


they almost always have intact dust jackets.

I would not find that remarkable. I always take off the book's jacket before I begin reading.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:42 AM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Peter McDermott--list needs more Donald Goines.

Dammit, I could have sworn I had Dope Fiend on there. If I left it off, it was because I thought it might be too reflective of my tastes rather than something a young black man might read.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:42 AM on May 15, 2015


I'll eat my hat if one white dude here has read "The Art of Mackin"

No white love for King Flex? It must just be me then...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:47 AM on May 15, 2015


they almost always have intact dust jackets.

I would not find that remarkable. I always take off the book's jacket before I begin reading.
posted by Kirth Gerson

So that was you in the book store I saw reading with the book covers off, you naughty person.
posted by clavdivs at 12:04 AM on May 16, 2015


I feel dust jackets are a bother once you take a book home: I mostly remove them and save them in a drawer.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:45 AM on May 16, 2015


So that was you in the book store I saw reading with the book covers off, you naughty person.

Nope, not me. It proves that there are at least two of us, though. Also, why is it naughty to make an effort to ensure that the next reader of a book gets it and its jacket in the same condition I did? Is the jacket supposed to function as some kind of wear indicator?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:27 AM on May 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I also take off dust jackets. They become cosmetically damaged long before the books do.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:46 AM on May 16, 2015


Me three.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:02 AM on May 16, 2015


I leave them on when they're just sittin on the shelf, but if the book has to go out into the cruel world (rarer now because of encroaching ebooking), the dust jacket stays home...
posted by sparkletone at 6:49 AM on May 16, 2015


D'oh.
Kirth, I did omit "used" which would include almost any place that sells books. Go to goodwill or SA etc. the Uris book covers are almost always intact because few people actually read them 30 years after publication.
This goes with VCR copies of 'Armageddon' and 'Forrest Gump'

In used books, dust jackets are the cats pajamas. Two months ago I bought a first edition, limited printing of 2000 copies of 'Man with the Blue Guitar' by Wallace Stevens. Paid 3$. The jacket is sweet and it's worth a nice 225$
posted by clavdivs at 5:08 PM on May 17, 2015


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