We’re about to launch the UK’s first regular Literary Speed Dating Event. Think of it as a kind of speed dating book club. So never let it be said we send you into the world unprepared.
Here is a list of 5 books that may just go some way to impressing her:
1) The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
It has failed romance, a flawed central character, a critique of class and society, a wondrously decadent 1920’s backdrop and plenty of gazing into the distance.
So what if everyone read it for GCSE, it’s this familiarity that makes it so attractive. Just make sure you make wistful reference to the ‘light at the end of the dock’. Then pause and gaze into nothing for a second or two before returning to look deep into her eyes and exclaim ‘Such a romantically tragic era don’t you think?’
2) The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia – Paul Theroux
One of the most famous travelogues of the last century. It’s familiar enough as a title yet surprisingly few people have read it. Make sure you casually drop into conversation Theroux’s 2006 trip revisiting his route to Asia and back in which he wasn’t recognised by anyone.
This is a particularly good book if you’ve actually completed the journey yourself or are familiar with some of the key destinations.
Contains some wonderfully colourful characters that fit general stereotypes just well enough to give most conversations longevity.
3) House of Spirits – Isabelle Allende
A cracker this one. Firstly, it shows an impassioned emotional engagement with the world. Secondly, there are a whole host of fun facts about the author that can lead the conversation pretty much anywhere.
Allende (pron. eye – en – day) mainly writes in the magic realist tradition – Think Gabriel Garcia Marquez of ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ fame – and as such allows lengthy discussion on imagery and metaphor.
Contrary to popular belief, Isabel Allende is not the niece of former President of Chile, Salvadore Allende, who in 1973 was killed in a CIA orchestrated coup which ushered in the Pinochet dictatorship.
It’s a common mistake given she often referred to him as uncle (tio).Cue a demonstrable knowledge of history, politics and literature. Most impressive young padawan.
4) Long Walk To Freedom – Nelson Mandela
Okay, so this wasn’t my pick. This is lifted directly from a 2008 study asking which books were most impressive for a date. It makes sense though. And the research is done. This one was the stand out most likely book to impress a woman.
If it feels dated or you’re unfamiliar with Mandela’s life (seriously!? I am judging you!) then autobiographies of extraordinary individuals are always good. Just make sure you pick wisely as you may just be judged as the individual you choose.
Quick note: Shane Warne is not an ‘extraordinary individual’.
5) Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
This was a really tough call but I think this is a winner. There are two reasons:
1) The story itself. It’s such an exceptional tale that covers so much territory it’s almost impossible to pick a theme of conversation that isn’t in some way investigated in the book. It’s also deeply funny. Part spoof, part meta-chivalric romance, part adventure romp. The characters also become convinced they are characters in a novel. Or do they?
2) Facts about the book. Published in two volumes in 1605 and 1615, it’s widely considered to be the most influential book in Spanish Literature. Discussion of this book allows you to throw around terms such as ‘intertextuality’ and ‘metatheatre’ with abandon. Knowledge of what these terms mean could prove useful but you’ve only got four minutes so wing it.
So there you have it. A few examples of impressive reading material. My personal choice is a collection Dr Zeus poems but that’s another story.
Before I go though, a quick note on what not to bring. Anything by Andy McNab, Dan Brown or Jeremy Clarkson. Bridget Jones’ Diary.
Or THAT book with the number 50 in the title. Seriously. That’s not even funny. It’s the equivalent of making a Dad joke about fire exits at a cremation. You have been warned.
Our first Literary speed dating event is on Tuesday March 10 at Nordic, W1. More here.
WORDS BY JOHN DAVIS