In an intense atmosphere of technology, where most of us exist more in the cloud than in the tangible world, reading is an important activity to cultivate. Physical books may not emit an addictive glow, but they should remain in fashion. One way to do this is to bring back the tacit sexiness of a good volume shown off in the right environment. Like a record collection, a well-placed personal library can be impressive for individuals looking for romantic entanglement, or even peers you want to outmatch in the smarts column.

The problematic question is, which books should you use to enhance your image, and which will make you seem like an unlikeable pseudo-intellectual (who only read the first paragraph of this piece)? Below I list ten books that can make you seem sensually collegiate or mature, and a few bad eggs to never attempt to flaunt.

Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon


It’s massive and makes you out to be not only intelligent, but a reader looking for something more challenging than can be found on the regular college syllabus. You’ve chosen to tackle this behemoth, and want to show anyone who enters your apartment or spots you on the train.

Ulysses by James Joyce


Similar in quantity of words to the Pynchon novel, this masterpiece is the classic showoff volume. Be able to talk about the aesthetics and message of the final 40ish pages and you’re made like all book nerds on Bloomsday.

Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges


Borges can be found in every dorm room of everyone who thinks they know Spanish language poetry; everyone has a love affair with this Argentine genius at some point. If you still show off some Borges after those weird college years, it means you actually have a flair for the poetic and are not just experimenting.

Cooked by Michael Pollan


Not only do you know how to cook like food writing celebrities you also are conscientious of the environment. A perfect conversation starter, at least, and with great recipes when all’s said and done.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami


This is also a monster of a book, but is more zany and fantastical than the other giants in this collection. If you have all three books, it’ll show your perseverance and creative side, and possible interested parties will want to borrow it.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith


She’s skyrocketed to fame with NW, but showing that you were a Smith fan all along will prove you to be witty, charming, and a fan of actual good books in this wasteland of social media.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky


You’ll seem classic and disciplined for getting through this particular novel, and a love of great books. Too many Dostoevsky books could get you in trouble, but this or another is impressive.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy


Basically, if you are knowledgeable about McCarthy, you outdo all the other people who are still trying to exercise their knowledge of the two films made from McCarthy stories. You want to seem dark and brooding, but actually intelligent.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


There’s nothing wrong with showing a literary understanding of the romantic, and certainly by showcasing your thematic range will only enhance how you must seem.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin


That’s right, you own the whole set, and will definitely lend them out (under certain conditions, of course). Thank you, Martin, for giving nerds a piece of attractive and useful media.

Never, ever, try to show off with Finnegan’s Wake (James Joyce) or Being and Time (Martin Heidegger). You’ll be seen as trying too hard and you won’t actually understand a word of either tome. The idea here is that you should be at least able to read and understand the books you are strategically showing off to the world (by that I mean possible ladies). You don’t want to be caught with your itinerary chops a big lie, that could be supremely unattractive. Also, for the love of literature, don’t ever reveal a copy of 50 Shades of Grey.

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