Welcome to the first installment of ‘Campus.ie’s Guide to Being a Deceptively Good Person’. Each week we’ll be sharing our tips on how trick your family, friends, strangers, and maybe even yourself into thinking that you’re a fantastic human being. You will learn how to impress at parties, dates, and interrogations from your parents – just remember that even we can’t help you fool the whispering voices inside your head.
In this instalment we help you ease through those dreaded pretentious conversations about books you’ve never bothered to read.
We’ve all been there. You’re on a night out, having a nice conversation with a new friend you’ve just made, everything’s going well and your opinion of your own social skills sky rockets. Suddenly the conversation takes a turn and you’re drunkenly discussing literature you’ve never heard of, instead of being honest and admitting your ignorance you just awkwardly agree with everything they say, praying they don’t ask your opinion. If you wish to avoid these encounters than maybe you should go and read….. Or just follow this list of must-wiki books that will not guarantee you don’t make a fool of yourself in these conversations but it’s worth a try!
1984 by George Orwell
This one’s a definite must-wiki! If there’s a drunken book discussion occurring, this is bound to be brought up. 1984 is set in a dystopian world where the government control everything, including your thoughts. There’s also a branch of the government called Big Brother who are essentially massive voyeurs and spy on everyone, very creepy. When discussing this classic, just relate 1984’s government to modern governments and you’ll seem knowledgeable in books and politics, very clever of you.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Sticking with Mr. Orwell, we now have Animal Farm, a book unsurprisingly about an animal farm. This short book is about the Communist revolution in Russia, where at this animal farm (Russia) the animals (proletariat classes) overthrow the farmers (bourgeoise). A quick read of the Wikipedia page on this book should round off your Orwell knowledge and maybe brush you up on Russian history.
The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
You might want to watch a video on this one because the Wikipedia page may as well be a book in itself, and we’re not here to read books, we’re here to seem smart with as little effort as possible. The Prince is an ancient book by an Italian sociopath and details the most effective ways to conquer and rule effectively, and by effectively, I mean cruelly. This is a good one to act as if you’ve read because unless you’re talking to a Literature student doing their PhD, the other person probably hasn’t read it either.
Children of Men by P.D. James
And back to the dystopian fiction, they’re always reliable for the parallels you can draw to our own society which makes you look caught up on current issues. Children of Men is set in a world where male sperm count has hit zero and humans are now facing extinction. I won’t spoil the rest; the Wikipedia page is riveting and thankfully a short read. There’s a film adaption so try not to go into the wrong page or you could end up revealing your intellectual fraudulence, leaving you looking worse than if you’d just owned up to your ignorance at the start.
Any Work by Shakespeare
We’ve all read Shakespeare at school but how much do you remember? Probably not a whole lot. That’s why you should find a random Shakespeare play and just quickly read up on it, preferably the one you did at school as you might end up recalling some themes you did that you can rattle off in conversation. Shakespeare is great for really looking literature savvy as they’re a hard read and for some reason people hold the guy in high regard. If reading the Wikipedia article on a Shakespeare play sounds too boring just re-watch The Lion King, that’s essentially Hamlet.
Now that you have your list of books you’re never actually going to read, spend an evening just reading the summaries on Wikipedia and then you’ll be ready for any intellectual book conversation that may come your way. While skimming the Wikipedia article of a book is never a substitute for actually reading the book, it’s a good starting point and who knows, you may end up reading them someday. Unlikely considering you’re reading the Wikipedia page but there’s hope for everyone.
Still here? Check this out: My College Experience So Far