Friday, May 22, 2015

White Papers

Here something that's been making the rounds: "Books That Literally All White Men Own: The Definitive List."

I'm going to reproduce this lengthy list and, as an honorary white man, will note if I own it or not, or have even read it.  Actually, all of these books are quite popular in general, and likely owned by many women and non-white men as well.

1. Shogun, James Clavell [don't own, haven't read, no interest]
2. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut [own many Vonnegut novels, have read it]
3. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole [read and owned]
4. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace [don't own, haven't gotten around to reading, may never]
5. A collection of John Lennon’s drawings. [own some writing by Lennon, but no drawings except as part of book]
6. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway [read it years ago, don't own, but own other Hemingway]
7. The first two volumes of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin [don't own any Martin--have looked at some books in the library to see how it compares to Game Of Thrones]
8. God Is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens [read parts of it in library, don't own]
9. Catch-22, Joseph Heller [own, have read several times]
10. I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, Tucker Max [don't own, no interest in reading]
11. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand [have read, not sure if I own]
12. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, Oliver Sacks [have read articles by Sacks but haven't read this, and don't own it]
13. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger [certainly have read it, may have a copy somewhere]
14. The Godfather, Mario Puzo [love the movie, haven't read book, don't own it]
15. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald [have read, may own it]
16. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov [have read, may own it]
17. Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk [don't own book, would only consider looking at it to compare it to movie]
18. The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov [don't own, haven't read]
19. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown [don't own, no interest in reading except perhaps to see why it was such a huge bestseller]
20. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck [never got around to reading--have read other Steinbeck and not been greatly impressed, and this one looks sort of long; have seen movie and found it overrated]
21. The Stand, Stephen King [haven't read--have read some King but only because friends insisted]
22. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson [haven't read, no interest--didn't like either movie version]
23. The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer [haven't read--not too much interest in it]
24. Tuesdays With Morrie, Mitch Albom [haven't read, no interest]
25. It’s Not About the Bike, Lance Armstrong (definitely under the bed) [haven't read, no interest]
26. Who Moved My Cheese?, Spencer Johnson [haven't read, no interest]
27. Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth [read years ago, probably own]
28. Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand [haven't read, not too much interest]
29. John Adams, David McCullough [I think someone gave me a copy, may get around to it]
30. Ragtime, E.L. Doctorow [read and owned]
31. Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis [been planning to read it for years, don't own it]
32. America: The Book, Jon Stewart [looked at it in library, no interest in checking it out]
33. The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman [reading Friedman in small doses is bad enough]
34. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell [Gladwell strikes me as sort of silly, don't think I could take a whole book]
35. The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time, Mark Haddon [haven't read, don't own]
36. Exodus, Leon Uris (if Jewish) [haven't read, don't own, have seen movie]
37. Trinity, Leon Uris (if Irish-American) [haven't read, don't own]
38. The Road, Cormac McCarthy [had a friend who insisted I read it, don't own]
39. Marley & Me, John Grogan [don't own, no interest]
40. Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt [my book group made me read it--I don't disagree with the book but not sure if I'd have read it otherwise]
41. The Rainmaker, John Grisham [there's so much good literature out there, why would I read Grisham?]
42. Patriot Games, Tom Clancy [see Grisham above]
43. Dragon, Clive Cussler [don't own, no interest]
44. Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond [have read some essays by Diamond, seems questionable, don't own book]
45. The Agony and the Ecstasy, Irving Stone [haven't read, don't own, don't particularly like movie]
46. The 9/11 Commission Report [read a few selections in papers, don't own--has anyone read whole thing who wasn't required to?]
47. The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, John le Carre [don't own, don't read spy novels]
48. Rising Sun, Michael Crichton [have read no Crichton, have seen many movie adaptations]
49. A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson [wouldn't have read except a friend suggested it last year]
50. Airport, Arthur Hailey [seen movie, no interest in reading book]
51. Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki [don't own, haven't read]
52. Burr, Gore Vidal [have read, probably own]
53. Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt [haven't read, don't own]
54. The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan [haven't read, don't own]
55. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer [have read, I think someone gave it to me]
56. Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer [haven't read, don't own, have seen movie]
57. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson [haven't read, don't own]
58. Godel, Escher, Bach, Douglas Hofstadter [read, owned and met with author]
59. The World According to Garp, John Irving [read and probably own]
60. A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking [read much of it in library]
61. The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass [haven't read, did like the movie]
62. On the Road, Jack Kerouac [haven't read--looks like too much trouble]
63. Lord of the Flies, William Golding [read back in high school, may own]
64. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien [read as a kid, didn't like]
65. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe [read, owned]
66. Beowulf, the Seamus Heaney translation [have read, own a different translation]
67. Rabbit, Run, John Updike [read several Updike works, not this one--may get around to it]
68. The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie [haven't read, don't own]
69. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [have read much Holmes, not sure if I have complete collection]
70. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler [great movie but I don't read detective novels]
71. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey [read years ago, may own]
72. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess [read in library]
73. House of Leaves, Mark Danielewski [haven't read, don't own]
74. The Call of the Wild, Jack London [read as kid, don't own]
75. Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon [have read other Pynchon, but haven't gotten to this yet]
76. I, Claudius, Robert Graves [haven't read, don't own, watched TV series years ago]
77. The Civil War: A Narrative, Shelby Foote [haven't read, don't own]
78. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis (a glaring omission from the original, pointed out by Naomi Fry) [haven't read, don't own]
79. Life, Keith Richards [read selections in bookstore]


Blogger New England Guy said...

Wow a combination some of my favorites, some guilty pleasures and whole lotta crap. If you count unabridged audio recordings (and I do- need to take advantage of commute time and reading glasses are a hassle) I've read 27 and own 26. Since October 2002, I've been obsessively writing down a list of every book I finish (H is for Hawk which I finished Monday was #1396) and I really try to go after all the well-known and classics (did Tristram Shandy in April- tired of seeing it in my queue for 3 years) but on lists like this I always wind up with around a third.

I guess I need to suck it up and finally read Lord of the Flies like all my contemporaries did in Junior High and take Cryptonomicon to the beach this year(I've read his other stuff and liked just never got to this).

Also I suggest reading Lucky Jim-I read it about fifteen years ago and it spurred me to read the entire Kingsley Amis oeuvre over the course of a year-cranky and funny generally and his speculative stuff isn't bad either (one novel envisions an England ruled by the Soviets, another that Martin Luther coopted the Catholic Church resulting in a 20th century theocracy based government in Europe)

Ok I'll stop now.

6:04 AM, May 22, 2015  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I own more of these than I've read, but my wife has probably read at least half of them. I definitely have all the Sherlock Holmes, and "I Claudius" may be my favorite off the list. Topic reminded me of this:

C: I wonder if you might have a copy of 'Rarnaby Budge'?

P: No, as I say, we're right out of Edmund Wells!

C: No, not Edmund Wells - Charles Dikkens.

P: (pause - eagerly) Charles Dickens??

C: Yes.

P: (excitedly) You mean 'Barnaby Rudge'!

C: No, 'Rarnaby Budge' by Charles Dikkens. That's Dikkens with two Ks, the well-known Dutch author.

P: (slight pause) No, well we don't have 'Rarnaby Budge' by Charles Dikkens with two Ks, the well-known Dutch author, and perhaps to save time I should add that we don't have 'Karnaby Fudge' by Darles Chickens, or 'Farmer of Sludge' by Marles Pickens, or even 'Stickwick Stapers' by Farles Wickens with four M's and a silent Q!!!!! Why don't you try W. H. Smith's?

C: I did, They sent me here.

P: DID they.

C: Oh, I wonder...

P: Oh, do go on, please.

C: Yes...I wonder if you might have 'The Amazing Adventures of Captain Gladys Stoutpamphlet and her Intrepid Spaniel Stig Amongst the Giant Pygmies of Beckles'...volume eight.

P: (after a pause for recovery) No, we don't have that...funny, we've got a lot of books here...well, I musn't keep you standing here...thank you,--

8:00 AM, May 22, 2015  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

This reminds me of the assertion that Florida 2000 proved that every vote counts, whereas of course it proved that not even 536 votes count. (Lefties would put it at 537.)

I wish I were good enough at statistics to estimate how many white males (let's limit it to America just for kicks) actually own these 79 books.

Do you suppose the number is above 10? I'd guess lower.

1:26 PM, May 22, 2015  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Every single book listed must cut out 90% of more of all white males. On the other hand, once you own one of these books, you're likely to own at least several more of them. Perhaps the more interesting question is what percentage of people own under ten (the vast majority), ten to twenty, and so on.

1:49 PM, May 22, 2015  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Sounds like you are raising the possibility that it's zero. Likelihood is probably a better word, if not near certainty.

I like your chart, but I'd include zero, too, not merely fewer than 10.

And I suppose that what we'd end up with is some distribution that tells us that if, say, 50 percent of a population owns zero (maybe 90 percent), and at least 5 percent - 15 percent? - of the population owns 12 percent of a category, and 2 percent - 10 percent? - own 24 percent of a category, that's strong evidence for saying every single person in the population owns all of them.

Here's my guess:

5-1 to 5
3-more than 5

5:10 AM, May 23, 2015  
Blogger LAGuy said...

That's 98%. What happened to the rest?

12:48 PM, May 23, 2015  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...


2:43 PM, May 23, 2015  

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