138. Books :: from Stuff White People Like, the book

The role of books in white culture is perhaps as important as organic food — essential for survival. However, understand that this is not about literacy or reading, but about the physical object of a book

Try this out as an experiment. Show a white person a photo of a living room that features an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. They are guaranteed to respond by saying how much they would love that for their own home and that they are planning on having a living room just like that in the future.

This is because white people need to show off the books that they have read. Just as hunters will mount the heads of their kills, white people need to let people know that they have made their way through hundreds or even thousands of books. After all, what’s the point of reading a book if people don’t know you’ve read it? It’s like a tree falling in the forest.

As much as white people do not want you rifling through their medicine cabinet, they are desperate for you to examine their bookshelves. When scanning through the rows of books, the best things you can say are “You made it through Infinite Jest? Wow” or “I didn’t know you loved Joyce so much.” If your intentions are to grow your friendship either romantically or platonically, there is no better technique than to ask to borrow one of the books.

This is because lending out books is the only practical reason for white people to hold on to their entire collection. So by asking to borrow a copy, you are justifying their decision to save the book, allowing them both to introduce you to a new author and assert their status as a well-read individual. It is the perfect move.

But there are times when your visit to a white person’s house is not long enough for a full inspection of their bookshelves. How then can one gauge their taste? Simple, just look at the coffee table. You see, white people like to purchase very expensive, very large books that they can put on their coffee tables for other people to see and then use to make value judgments. If the coffee table book is about art, then the white person wants you to ask them about their trip to the Tate Modern. If it’s about photography, they want you to ask them about their new camera. If it’s about football or bikinis, you should politely ask to leave.

So now that you know white people like books, you might assume that a book is the perfect gift. Not so fast. There are a few possible outcomes from giving books, and few of them end well. If you get a white person a book that they already have, the situation will be uncomfortable. If you get them a book that they do not want, you will be forever viewed as someone with poor taste in literature. In the event that you got them a book that they want and do not have, they are forced to recognize that they have not read it, which instantly paints you as a threat. There is no way to win when you give a book to a white person.

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Source: [Lander, Christian. Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks. 2008.]

One thought on “138. Books :: from Stuff White People Like, the book

  1. I think your last paragraph of your article stands true to most folks! I, personally, like to pick out my own books andd then donate them. Have a great day!

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