The Best Books to Be Seen Reading

library books

library books
Ah, to be caught with an embarrassing book. Be it a guilty pleasure or 50 Shades of Gray (if that’s what you’re into; I can’t bring myself to read it, but that’s another story), plenty of people prefer the privacy of an e-reader, or have pulled the very suave slip-a-book-behind-another-book move. But what about the opposite? The books that, if caught reading, make you look like a hardcore literature nerd cool?

Whether you’re trying to out-do the stuffy hipster at the espresso bar with his behemoth Dostoyevsky, impress your coworkers with your knowledge of 19th century Romanticism, or catch the eye of the cute guy on the subway, you’re sure to turn heads if you pick up one of these gems:

  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – Clocking in at a whopping 1392 pages (depending on your edition, of course), this bad boy is just intimidating to look at.
  • Coriolanus; or Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare – Don’t just read plays from The Bard himself, pick a more obscure one to seem like a die-hard
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot – A lengthy classic of Victorian Literature. Plus you can toss out the fun fact that George Eliot was a girl
  • Brideshead Revisited – You can discuss the rise and fall of the British estate novel to make your awesomeness known. Plus you can toss out the fun fact that Evelyn Waugh was a guy.
  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – Despite being one of my favorite books of all-time, sitting in a cafe by yourself turning your book upside-down and holding a mirror to it to read it does make you look like some mad-trendy-literary-snob. And it has a cult status, only adding to its coolness factor
  • anything by Ayn Rand is bound to strike up strong feelings from any passersby. People either love her or hate her. If a heated debate is your thing, whip this out in a public place and you’ll have opinions galore.

I jest; do really love these books – and really, you should read them if you haven’t already! – but frankly, carrying around a semester’s load of books when you’re a Literature major does make you look kind of pretentious on default. I’m the girl that probably was given college props from afar, being seen reading Paradise Lost all the freaking time, but I probably scared off many potential friends while laughing menacingly to myself in the corner of the library about my used book misspelling “Satan” as “Satin”.

Are you self-conscious about what books you read in public?