[Editor’s note: It’s Labor Day, so your devoted Flavorwire team is taking a break. To keep you entertained, we’re leaving you with our most popular features of the summer months. This post originally ran June 15th.] We’ve always wondered how many people read specific books to seem cool — and how many people deftly sidestep talking about the books that perhaps cast them in a less-than-flattering light. Recently, we were tickled by an edition of Ask the Paris Review, wherein the always-delightful Sadie Stein answered the question “What’s a book I should read to make girls think I’m smart in a hot way?” by polling her friends and colleagues. The answers, of course, varied widely, proving that it sort of depends on the girl.
Though it’s good to know what to do to seem appealing to the opposite sex, it’s also good to know what not to do — that is, to know which books might send a potential mate running for the hills should they be spotted on your nightstand or peeking out from your back pocket. In the interest of seeing the full picture, we asked both men and women of various sexual orientations to share the books that they think render their devotees totally undateable. So click through to see which titles you should avoid like the plague — or at least hide in a desk drawer somewhere when you’re entertaining — and don’t forget to pitch in with the books that would make you cut and run in the comments.
“The Catcher in the Rye — not because it’s a bad book or anything, but because, in my personal experience, any man over a certain age who still idolizes this book also still acts like a child.”