10 Books That Fool People into Thinking Youre Smart 1 of 11If you're anything like me, you find yourself voraciously reading comics about zombies and trying to defend your intellect … which is hard to do because you're reading comic books about zombies. Luckily I have 10 books for you that will make you feel smart and worldly while still giving you the chance to say, "Oooh, pictures!"
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, by E. D. Hirsch, Joseph F. Kett, and James Trefil 2 of 11
Have you ever read an entire dictionary from start to finish? Me either. Until I found this book. The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy is an enthralling look at “what every American should know,” and it proved to me just how little I knew about … pretty much everything. Plus, it looks kick-ass on your shelf and makes robbers think you must be incredibly intelligent. Which you will be — after reading this book.
MAUS, by Art Spiegelman 3 of 11
MAUS is actually two books so it feels like I'm cheating, but it also feels like cheating when you read this book because it's weird to enjoy. It's a fascinating and terrifying Holocaust story. It's also a comic book with mice, cats, and pigs playing all the characters. And it's just as interesting and bizarre as you'd expect. Complicated, difficult, heartbreaking, and amazing. That's a lot for a comic book to deliver.
Get it from Amazon, $8.96
Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 4 of 11
Don't read this book. It's difficult as hell and (in my opinion) so fucking boring. Instead just put it on your bookshelf, and people will assume you read it and that you are very smart. If they ask you what you thought about it, just say that you thought it was boring and then they'll know that you read it. Also, if you actually did read it and loved it, then congratulations, you are better than me.
Get it from Amazon, $8.66
The Random House Thesaurus 5 of 11
This book is awesome because it gives you lots of new words to use and makes you feel way smarter just by replacing your normal words with new ones. Plus, if you read it at night, it will help you go to sleep. Here's that exact same review after using the thesaurus: This compendium is splendiferous because it's resplendent with unique and obscure terms that make you appear more quick-witted and scintillating than the platitudinous being from which you secretly wish to abscond. Moreover, it offers desultory respite from insomnolence.
Get it from Amazon, $5.99
The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman 6 of 11
Repeat after me: "It's not a comic book. It's a graphic novel." And it's won more awards than you or I will ever see. From the author himself: "What do you need to know to enjoy the series? Only that there are seven brothers and sisters who have been since the beginning of time, the Endless. They are Destiny, Death, Dream, Desire, Despair, Delirium who was once Delight, and Destruction who turned his back on his duties. Their names describe their function and the realms that they are in charge of. Several years ago, a coven of wizards attempted to end death by taking Death captive, but captured Dream instead. When he finally escapes he must face the changes that have gone on in his realm, and the changes in himself." Does it sound stupid? Go fuck yourself
Sorry. It's just that this is the kind of book that brings out the inner book-nerd warrior in us all, and it came to me at a time when I was searching for answers that just weren't there. This book gave me some of the answers, but more importantly, it made me realize that having unanswered questions is sometimes better than having answers.
Get it from Amazon, $11.42
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green 7 of 11
It's a young-adult book, but so many of the best books are. Plus, you can read it in one day (mostly because you can't put it down), and then you make everyone else read it because they have to suffer through it if you do. Not that it's not a perfect and wonderful book. It's just really, really sad. It's like if The Notebook and Field of Dreams had a baby and then that baby got cancer. But it's still worth it. Get a towel because a box of tissues is not going to cut it.
Get it from Amazon, $10.22
The Mutter Museum Historical Medical Photographs, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia 8 of 11
This book is a collection of rare and historic photographs taken from the 1860s to the 1940s as records for physicians to share and learn from. It's fascinating and macabre and not for the faint of heart, but if you're into the darker side of life, it's a must-read. It's basically a picture book for people with curious, fucked-up sensibilities. (If you want something just as dark but more wordy, try Stiff by Mary Roach.)
Get it from Amazon, $31.47
Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity, by Hugh MacLeod 9 of 11
I shun almost all books that sound like self-help because I enjoy being a miserable wreck, but this one gets a giant pass — partly because it has funny pictures and partly because it’s brilliant. I read it whenever I have writer’s block and feel like a total failure, because it’s the kind of book that makes you scream: “YES! SOMEONE ELSE GETS IT!” That is a rare thing indeed.
Get it from Amazon, $16.29
The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein 10 of 11
This book will take you about 15 seconds to read, and it's worth it because people will be referencing it for the rest of your life. Also, it's a good way to take a look at your personality because most people think it's a story about generosity and love, but a few of us read the book and we're like, "This kid is an asshole, and the tree is an enabler and is obviously suffering from Patty-Hearst Syndrome and OH MY GOD, WHY DO PEOPLE THINK THIS IS AN APPROPRIATE BOOK FOR KIDS?!" It's possible I'm over-reacting. I do that sometimes.
Get it from Amazon, $11.86
Hark! A Vagrant, by Kate Beaton 11 of 11
A comic that makes you glad you paid attention in history class, and one that teaches you a bit along the way. Not only is it fantastically funny and well-paced, but there’s something really satisfying about getting the silly jokes with smart background. Any author that can create 22 separate comic strips based on the designs of Edward Gorey covers without losing those of us with ADD deserves a high-five. And you know who else does? You do. Because you just read an article on literary criticism instead of watching porn. That’s something a smart person would do. High five, you.
Your turn. What’s your favorite easy read? Tell us in the comments!
Get it from Amazon, $11.57