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Whiter Shades of Pale: The Stuff White People Like, Coast to Coast, from Seattle's Sweaters to Maine's Microbrews Paperback – November 23, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Excellent....Few people alive are as deft at this satire as is Mr. Lander. His books are painfully observant, and they take you places that The Daily Show and The Onion, those reliable dispensers of elite wit, mostly don’t. They’re among the prickliest guides through the American status system since Paul Fussell’s ‘Class’ (1983). . . . You’ll find WHITER SHADES OF PALE in that dimly understood and flimsy bookstore subdivision, the humor section. It belongs upfront, where the best new nonfiction walks point.” —Dwight Garner, New York Times

About the Author

Christian Lander is the creator of the popular blog StuffWhitePeopleLike.com and the author of the New York Times bestselling book Stuff White People Like. A one-time Ph.D. candidate and acclaimed public-speaking instructor, he has traveled extensively in the United States and Europe, living among white people and studying their native customs. He presently resides in Los Angeles, where he enjoys such local pleasures as Ray Ban Wayfarers, skinny jeans, yoga, interior design, and crippling debt.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; 1st edition (November 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812982061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812982060
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #808,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Stuff White People Like is, to be blunt, something that very few people seem to get. It's not just an attack on hipsters, and it's certainly not racist, but rather, it's an attack on privilege. The 20 and 30-something upper-middle class kids Lander mocks benefit tremendously from their positions as children of the elite, and have created their own "culture" that reflects their pretensions by affirming their own uniqueness and artistic merit without requiring any real effort. It's also an attack on class (which Lander shows is bound up with race in this country - see the San Francisco white person), and repeatedly points out that in order to advance in a society controlled by the "right kind of white people," you have to parrot their views and affirm their (well-meaning, but sill patronizing) stereotypes, which is ironic considering how tolerant and open-minded they claim to be. This might sound bitter or partisan, but Lander is a young liberal who worked as a PhD student in Lit Crit, so he's as much a part of this group as anyone, and consequently is less hostile than you might imagine. As a member of the group satirized, I can say that while Lander is occasionally harsh, he never comes across as mean spirited, but mostly just disappointed, and even when he is slightly bitter he remains highly insightful.

Of course, all this belies the concern most people (rightly) have: Is this book funny, and is it worth purchasing when his website is free? To the first, I can say that he is indeed quite funny, and to the second, most of the best material was written for the book, so there's plenty of reason to check it out. The individual new entries are quite good (Duke Basketball, Losing Weight, Taxes, Punctuality, etc), but the best part is the addition of white people by city.
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Format: Paperback
As a follow-up to Stuff White People Like, Whiter Shades of Pale is absolutely no less hilarious. This time Lander's focus is more on the geography of whiteness, mainly with 24 dead-on, absolutely brilliant line drawings that depict the prototypical white person from each city/region with callouts of the accessories and icons that make them so...Caucasian. (Seattle guy drinking coffee: "NOT Starbucks. This is some next generation coffee that you can't even begin to understand right now.") The entries, most of which have never been published on the blog before, are equal parts deadpan humor and freakish accuracy. Anthony Bourdain, British slang, products made by people named Tom, promising to learn a new language, not vaccinating children, Christopher Guest movies, and of course, ugly sweater parties. Just to name a few.

There have always been plenty of detractors out there who take Lander's satire too seriously and miss the entire point. Yes, you could call this cultural criticism--but it's way more fun than that. The enjoyment of his books comes from reading his entries on messenger bags or heirloom tomatoes or punctuality and thinking to yourself (with a smirk on your face) that you've been nailed. You're guilty as charged.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure that there really would be enough material for a sequal to Mr. Lander's first book, but he does not disappoint. I was smiling from the first entry to the last and think this outing is better than the first. I ended up ordering a dozen for the holidays - for all my friends he so aptly pokes fun at. Well done!
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Format: Paperback
Lander's website and first book hinted at what was to come. While his swipes at coffee, bilingual children, and Whole Foods were spot on, you could tell that the true saga of White People still remained to be told. Whiter Shades of Pale is the "A la recherche du temps perdu" of caucasian socioanthropology, a witheringly funny critique of one of the less introspective sub-species in nature. Where Lander took playful swipes before, he goes straight for the jugular, with deeper insights and much more sophisticated writing. The only flaw in the book is the failure to cover Burlington, Vermont as its own special habitat for comparative literature grad students sporting blond dreadlocks, decrying the capitalist system while driving $70,000 SUVs paid for by their Manhattan parents. But this is forgivable.
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Like Lander's previous book, this is a brilliant work of sociology as well as a devastating critique of IKEA-loving, hummus-eating, Huffington Post-reading morons who can't think for themselves.I wish I had written it myself!
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Amusing catalog of white people and what they like -- some white people, htat is. In this book, "white people" are left-leaning, college educated, urban, mostly young white people. They aren't really all white, there's a scattering of Asians, African-Americans and Hispanics, and they are really more defined by education, income and place of residence than by skin color. They are the ones you would have expected at an Obama rally in 2008 (unless they are Canadian, which some are).

Some other white people, however, really don't like a lot of the stuff in question; in fact, they may actively hate it. Blue collar types, rednecks, and the like are not likely to recognize themselves in this. The book isn't as funny as I though it was at first, though the shock of self-recognition (that NPR lady from Minneapolis!) is always salutary.
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