Top Ten Favorite Books By White Male Authors

A lot of angry people from YouTube are showing up to tell me that the reason I haven’t read many authors besides white male ones is that I wasn’t interested in books about identity politics. In other words, they think that white male authors write about general issues, while non-male and/or non-white authors write about who they are.

They also think that by not reading white male authors for two years, I’m somehow stopping white men from writing. So that says a lot about their ability to properly understand context.

But maybe this is my fault. Maybe I needed to be clear just how much I admire the white male ability to write. Here are, in no particular order, ten of my favorite books written by white male authors as well as what I found to be so compelling about them.

The Skystone (The Camulod Chronicles, Book 1) by Jack Whyte
Though it’s been years since I’ve read this book, I can recall the passage about the protagonist obsessing over the idea of kissing a lady’s tanned hand with tongue. Good for Whyte for indulging his straight identity in a book that’s supposed to be a gritty, if not dark, King Arthur reboot. The audacity of someone not only writing an unoriginal story but also including his hand-making-out fetish is frankly inspirational.

Burmese Days by George Orwell
Being a colonizer is really tough for a sensitive-hearted writer and this book is the proof. The man’s loathing for his own white maleness permeates every page. You really feel for how lonely he is as a man who doesn’t fit in with other white people but also doesn’t seem to really like the non-white people who dominate the region his home nation has colonized.

Candide by Voltaire
Philosophy serves as something of an excuse for this author to explore his issues with women, religion, and other political issues relevant to a French man of his time. Don’t let that stop you from reading it if you’re not a European male, though. Voltaire nonetheless rose about the obvious identity politics and wrote a book of brevity and wit.

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn
Quinn is a white man so desperate for a non-mainstream identity that he invents his own oppression at the hands of, of all things, agriculture. Despite dubious readings of history, the writing itself isn’t bad, so the book serves as an excellent way to understand the workings of the white male mind.

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Like Daniel Quinn, Beckett doesn’t seem to have much going on in his life. Instead of contriving issues, Beckett chooses to indulge in the pointlessness and emptiness of his life. There is no action, only reaction to action that is never explained, in this play about nothing. While that may sound tedious to people who are actually facing issues, I urge readers to give Beckett a chance to give them a glimpse into what it is like for a white man to have resigned himself to a lack of struggle in life.

Heina with the Ignatius Jacques Reilly statue in New Orleans
Ignatius J. Reilly and me chilling in New Orleans, as you do

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Toole, of all the authors here, is most painfully aware that he is a white male novelist. You’d think that would be depressing, but it’s not so. It is a funny if very dark tale about someone named Ignatius J. Reilly who is a white man just like Toole.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Ellis, undeterred by the heterosexual slander that gay men are only so because they loathe women, nonetheless explores every deep crevice of what is a pretty blatant hatred for cis women’s bodies in this work about the darker side of white male identity. So brutal is what happens in the book that even discussions of it, as in the previous link, would merit a content notice — alas, if only I hadn’t been chastised about such pandering by a prominent white male author. If you don’t seen the movie before you read the book, you may not think it to be so satirical after all, but rest assured, it is, because Ellis says so.

How I Became Stupid by Martin Page
Like John Kennedy Toole, Page’s discomfort for his own white maleness is the driving force behind a genuinely funny book. Unlike Toole, Page sees the discomfort as the problem, not his own white male identity, making for a shorter and less dark tale.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
To the untrained and uninformed eye, these are fantasy stories about a bunch of boys and a few girls, one of whom is eventually barred from a fantasy realm in which she spent years of her life. It is actually an uncomfortable exploration of Lewis’s identity as a white Christian who loathed non-white non-Christians.

Everything Orson Scott Card

 has ever written
Despite writing on topics ranging from worm-human slash pairings to genocide to the Old Testament to pederasty, Card has always managed to make his heterosexual, white Mormon identity and politics shine forth from every page.

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Top Ten Favorite Books By White Male Authors
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20 thoughts on “Top Ten Favorite Books By White Male Authors

    1. 2.2

      Fight Club would still be one of the worst books I’ve ever read even if it weren’t for the overwhelming Valley of Penises vibe (content warning for exactly what it sounds like). Literally the only thing I ever read where I liked the book better than the movie.

      A movie which, I should mention, has not aged nearly as well as my sophomore self thought it would.

  1. 3

    I adore you, Heina.

    Another really good example is that William Shakespeare guy. Like all people totally wrapped up in identity politcs, he invented a lot of words, but don’t let that get to you! He gives really great insights into the violence and hatred that saturates heterosexual white culture. (I don’t mind straight white people, I just think some of them embrace and idealize a violent subculture a lot. The best example is probably Hamlet, which is about a rich white prince who really freaks the fuck out about his mother seeing anyone else after his father’s murder and his hatred of a mentally ill woman who loves him for some reason. Anyway, it’s interesting despite it being all about how oppressed and sad he is and his demands for attention. Macbeth is also a really great illustration of gang warfare in white culture.

    For real, though: I was thinking I’d just read more women writers and POC writers in general. But the completely over the top, ridiculous response your decision to read the books you want made me decide to join you in your mission to make oversensitive manbabies absolutely lose their shit just by picking up a book.

  2. 4

    Speaking of the Chronicles, are you familiar with the ongoing deconstruction thereof by Ana Mardoll? I loved them as a kid, deconverted … fifteen or twenty years after having last read them, and was kinda retroactively annoyed at certain things but hadn’t though much about them.

    But hoo-boy, the stuff I remembered (death penalty for eight-year-old on mind-controlling drugs and/or magic stands out) was just the barest tip of the iceberg of awful.

  3. 6

    I think its really important to read go out of one’s way to read non-white and non-male authors. I definitely support what you’re doing with this project.

    But I have to say I’m really disappointed that you decided to go with a sarcastic list instead of an actual list. I think it could have been much more effective at clarifying your position while shutting down trolls.

    I get that you are using this as an opportunity to point out the biased point of view pervasive through the Western canon. That’s an important point, but actually I would think most of your critics probably understand that. The bigger problem that I see is that they don’t understand that you aren’t pitting the value of literature against the value of diversity, but rather you are trying to show the value of a body of literature is strengthened by diversity.

    If you only address the more ignorant and hostile of your critics, you will surely get those critics. If you assume some portion of your critics are otherwise reasonable people who have unexamined beliefs and gaps in knowledge, I think you will find those. If there is a conversation worth having, surely its with the latter.

    1. 6.1

      Except I did write an actual list that I linked to: https://the-orbit.net/heinous/2015/02/25/reading-diversity/
      Sorry you missed it.

      I also wrote a defense of my choices here: https://the-orbit.net/heinous/2015/02/24/excluding-white-male-authors/
      I also linked that in this post.

      This post was me having a little fun with the comments from the jerks who, despite all my sincere writings on the matter, still don’t get it, especially the ones insisting that PoC and/or non-male authors are too influenced by who they are to write anything of general interest. I surely am allowed to occasionally do so.

    2. 6.2

      Additionally, no, many of the critics and trolls alike are claiming that the reason why I shouldn’t bother to read non-white and/or non-male authors is that people like that write about “identity politics” rather than “universal” subjects. I wanted to shine a light on their flawed thinking. Feel free to browse the comments on the second link I provided you in my prior comment to verify this. They truly don’t understand the bias in the Western canon and believe that white male authors are “unbiased”.

      1. I meant an list of books by white male authors that you actually admire. That seems weird, like who needs that list? But I was saying it would serve a certain rhetorical purpose.

        I’d say you’re right about the kind of ignorance found in your critics and trolls. I shouldn’t have given you unsolicited advice; I find it hard to help myself. Their head-space is so hard to comprehend and its too easy for me to believe its a simple misunderstanding.

  4. 7

    Please can you read more SWM authors. We need reminded how ridiculously high our back-ground level of privilege and expectation is. Some more of the above helps nicely. Thanks. 😀

  5. 8

    I haven’t read Burmese Days, but maybe I should. In my British Lit class I like to cover Shooting an Elephant, and I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to point out (as I think that essay does brilliantly) that colonialism can be just as dehumanizing for the colonizers as it is for the colonized.

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