When selecting a book it’s important to remember several components that make it pretentious. Below are some mandatory and optional qualities of a book that makes it worth using as a status signal to your peers…
Pretentious Books Requirements
Long in length. Nothing says status like poring 50 hours in a book that could have said more with less.
Must be old. Old books tend to have more resonance and prestige in the eyes of the masses. Think books like Crime and Punishment or Moby Dick (I’ve never read these). Very few people know what they’re about but we all know about them. That’s the vibe we’re going for.
The only exception to the age requirement is if the book is new and the author has since passed away. Deaths increase value of art. It works the same in both painting and books. An example of this would be Infinite Jestby David Foster Wallace — published in 1996, passed away in 2008.
Foreign. Any book from a non-English speaking country gains bonus points. The more Russian and depressing, the better.
Reading from a damaged copy. Worn books imply wisdom. If you’re really trying to impress a potential date, ensure that pages fall out in public as you’re reading it.
Pretentious Book List
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
This book takes place during the French Revolution and highlights the Reign of Terror. To impress your friends, just say “This story really just showcases the madness of crowds” and subtly shake your head.
Tale of Two Cities also served as heavy inspiration for The Dark Knight Rises. So just mention this and transition the conversation to Batman in case they ask more questions about the book
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
I only read half the book, but that’s enough for the purposes of this article. Basically, it’s a funny story about a guy who wants to live life like the chivalrous knights that he reads about in books. So, his self-delusion leads him on a trek across the countryside getting in all sorts of trouble. It’s like Forrest Gump but nothing like Forrest Gump.
To impress your friends, mention that the book is technically two books, but is commonly sold as one volume. Useless facts like these work sometimes work on people. You can also mention that it influenced the Marvel superhero Deadpool. Don Quixote even makes a cameo in the comic book series. From here, you can segue the conversation to Deadpool and never let it be revealed that you never read the book.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I actually never read this book. I just know how to talk about it in the company of others. There’s a semi-popular parody novel called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. It takes place in the same world except it’s ridden with zombies. Seth Grahame-Smith was also the writer of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter — a story about an Abraham Lincoln that hunts vampires.
So, if Pride and Prejudice is brought up in conversation, just mention the parody zombie novel. This will show people that you’re sophisticated and have a sense of humor. Then mention the author of the zombie book and his vampire novel. That’ll likely sidetrack the conversation to how absurd the concept is and from here you can bring the conversation to vampires, zombies, The Walking Dead, etc. — because that’s what I do every time — and it works.
Life is not about what you know, it’s about what people think you know. Remember that and you’ll always be successful.