Books to Mention in an Interview (To Make You Sound Smart)

“What was the last book you read and why?”

The question that you know the interviewer will be judging you on based on your answer. Clearly it’s left open ended so they’re able to gauge what kind of person you are. In a time where the bulk of what people read is news updates, social media, and modern pictographs (looking at you, emojis) it can be tough to name a reputable book off the cuff. Outlined here are handful of books and accompanying notes that will no doubt  knock the interviewer’s socks off:

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The Behemoth: Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace, 1996

This beast of a book clocks in at over 1,000 pages and is quite the task. It screams that you’re worthy of a challenge.



The Throwback: Middlemarch, George Eliot, 1872

Set in England during the 1830's, Eliot's tale explores themes of women's status in society, marriage, self-interest, and numerous other social issues. She skillfully opens up these themes for discussion well before they were being openly discussed in a public forum. It is now widely heralded as one of the greatest novels of the english language.

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The Intellectual: Before You Know It, John Bargh, 2017

With a background in psychology, Bargh explores the unconscious mental processes that impact every aspect of our behavior.


The Philosopher: Meditations, Marcus Aurelius, 700

Musings and wisdom from the last great emperor of Rome, the quotes in this are nothing short of legendary.

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The Businessman: The Intelligent Investor, Benjamin Graham, 1949

Buffett’s favorite book, this is the lexicon for all things investing commonly referenced as the “stock market bible”.


The Lighthearted: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, 1979

An absolute classic that will show you appreciate slye wit and can delve into the complex themes Adams addresses in a humorous way.


The Comedian: Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris, 2000

A collection of stories after Sedaris moved to Paris, this book is guaranteed to make you laugh. The interviewer will see that you’re not all work--there is some play.


The Artist: Cat's Eye, Margaret Atwood, 1988

Atwood, who's Handmaidens Tale was recently turned into a feature film, does not shy away from controversy. This tale revolves around a controversial artist who reflects on her past. In doing show, the artist tries to think through how past events have shaped perceptions of and relationships to the world. 

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The Prose Enthusiast: Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison, 1952

The first paragraph of this book sets the tone for what is, like many of the other books here, considered one of the most important works of the 20th century. Ellison's prose is second-to-none and is a must read for anyone who appreciates the rigor that goes into such phenomenal writing.

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The ‘I’m Hip’: Electric Kool-aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe, 1968

Wolfe’s first-hand nonfiction account of touring with Ken Kesey during the blossoming of the summer of love.


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