It might be the asshole Barista at your local fair-trade coffee spot or the bomb dot com Asian bitty you’ve been trying to chat up at your local corporate coffee spot, but sooner or later somebody is going to ask you what your favorite book is. If you’re coming with some 19th century classic you only read because it was assigned in high school—and even then you only got 30 pages deep, said fuck it, got stoned and played Xbox for a month then Sparknoted the shit the day before the paper was due—some arrogant English major biter WILL make you feel like a dumb shit. Believe me, the free-range organic milf in yoga pants at the co-op grocery is going to know if you’re bullshitting on misogyny in Hemingway and the bespectacled high-school hipster working your independent video store will laugh in your face if you mix up Tolkien’s timeline with Peter Jackson’s movie chronology. Make no mistake, the answer to this question will frame someone’s opinion of you for all eternity, and if you’re sticking with any of these go-to pretentious classics, I’ve got a pretty solid idea of the lifestyle each selection suggests.

Angelo Spagnolo is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. Follow him on Twitter here.