Growthabit logo
Close this search box.

Faking It How To Seem Like A Better Person Book Summary

“Faking It” is all about appearing to be better than you actually are. This is like the lazy person’s guide to success, happiness, and sex. It’s fun to read and you do actually learn a lot from this book.

Book Title: Faking It: How To Seem Like A Better Person Without Actually Improving Yourself
Author: Writers of College Humor
Date of Reading: October 2018
Rating: 6/10

Table of Contents

What Is Being Said In Detail:

“Faking It” is divided into ten chapters that each covers a part of the “after-college life” where you need to learn how to fake knowledge about a subject. The biggest areas where you should learn to fake things are: 

  • Chapter 1: Scholarly Pursuits
  • Chapter 2: Arts and Culture
  • Chapter 3: Jobs and Money
  • Chapter 4: The Sporting Life
  • Chapter 5: The Handyman
  • Chapter 6: Fashion and Grooming
  • Chapter 7: Caring for Your Home
  • Chapter 8: Entertaining Guests
  • Chapter 9: Hitting the Town
  • Chapter 10: Dating 

Most Important Keywords, Sentences, Quotes:


“You can’t possibly be Master of All Domains, but you can certainly seem like you are. The easiest technique to achieve this effect is to be dismissive of the topic at hand. The trick here is to keep it fairly vague while using words that don’t really mean anything”

“Under no circumstances should you attempt to impress people with your wisdom at any of the following events: bookburnings; during your presidential campaign; the Scopes monkey trial following the perfection of your time machine; or within the context of any organized religion.” 

“Finally, you should never, ever act smart in the presence of people who are legitimately brilliant. Yeah, you may have learned five talking points about Cezanne’s paintings, but if the guy sitting next to you wrote his doctoral dissertation on the effects of post-impressionists on the development of analytic cubism, you are truly, seriously fu**ed where you stand.” 

 “Any movie written by Charlie Kaufman—Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Adaptation all probably changed the way you look at film, and each one had its own little flairs that made it accessible but still “difficult.”

“Your two options in these situations are to stay silent or ask questions, and the option you choose depends on how much of the conversation at hand is common knowledge. If people are talking about something you should know about but don’t (current wars, major sports figures), you’re going to want to stay silent. That way, people will just assume the conversation is too mundane for you” 

CHAPTER 1 – Scholarly Pursuits

“QUICK TIP: If somebody asks you what you got on a test, convert the grade to a 200 point scale. “I got a 96!” sounds much more impressive than “I got an F.” 

“You basically fake your way through this situation by continuously asking the girl questions about the topic—but make them sound like they’re leading her to a well-considered test response. Instead of asking her what happens in Macbeth, ask, “If you were the director, what major plot points would you emphasize in your production?”

CHAPTER 2 – Arts and Culture

“One of the easiest lies to tell people is that you freelance for a magazine. Actual freelance writers don’t spend very much time writing and often receive no credit once the magazine comes out.” 

Go out to the magazine stand and buy some intellectual periodicals (note: she won’t care that you freelance for MAD, regardless of how long it takes to make those fold-ins) and lay them around the house. Thumb through them looking for any small, unaccredited articles or graphics—most magazines will have top-ten lists or something of that sort. Tear that page out and leave it somewhere noticeable. When somebody asks you why there are torn pages of The Atlantic Monthly lying around your house, tell them that you can’t stand to read magazines with your writing still in them because “it diminishes my opinion of the publication.”

Reading a lot of big, important books is a sure-fire sign of someone whose mind works at a higher level than that of the general population, most of whom are still Choosing Their Own Adventure. Unfortunately, reading takes a lot of time that could otherwise be spent watching television, having sex, or not reading. So you’d think that only people who have actually read books could seem well-read.” 

“Joyce—Great drunk considered the greatest writer of the century. No one’s really read his books, particularly Ulysses, because the prose is so dense with allusions and semi sensical stream of consciousness that it can’t be followed. Your opinion of him is that he’s overrated, and if anyone challenges you, ask them how Ulysses ends. That will shut them up.” 

“Nabokov—Russian immigrant who wrote in four languages, studied butterflies, and wrote Lolita, which caused an international stir for its overtones of teenfu**ing. If anyone mentions him, point out that Lolita is the most misunderstood novel of the twentieth century and that it’s a study of American culture, not a love story about a guy fu**ing a little girl. That’s just an added bonus!” 

“Kerouac—Kerouac is a hack, read mostly by pretentious eleventh-graders and not-very-smart people who hang out in coffee shops.” 

“Vonnegut—Vonnegut writes funny science fiction that often reads like a highbrow version of a Simpsons Halloween special. He’s easy to read, interesting, and entertaining.”

“All classical music falls into two categories: • Vivaldi’s Four Seasons • Not Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.”

“Modern—Modern music is defined as the music you can’t listen to. If you are at any kind of upscale party or gathering, you will eventually have to deal with Philip Glass. He is one of the minimalist composers who make an enormous amount of money writing the same four notes over and over. Do not be tricked into going to a Philip Glass concert. If you must go, do not take a handgun. Someone will be killed, and you’ll have to go to prison.” 

“When asked your opinion of the greatest composer of all time, always go with Bach or Mozart.” 

“The three B’s are Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms. Ignore Brahms. All well-cultured people do.” 

“Ballet—Ballet is God’s way of saying: “You thought opera was boring? Oh, I’ll show you boring.” To put this statement in perspective, this guy invented church, and even He thinks ballet is boring.” 

“Leonardo. Everyone knows his work, but you can talk about how he pioneered sfumato shading, which leaves a smoky haze around objects (obvious in Mona Lisa).” 

“Romanticism—Guy dancing with a bear. Realism—Guy being devoured by a bear.” 

“Monet, Degas, Renoir, and their associates are most associated with the impressionist movement.” 

“Talk about things such as composition, color, and light. If you don’t know what to say, call a painting “playful,” a great vague term for anything that’s not overwhelmingly depressing.”

“Work, nobody wants to debate the existence of objective reality. Chances are pretty good that the only person who cares about this “totally deep” philosophical rant you’re on is you, so cut the Kant and talk about something that interests everyone, like the weather.” 

“When done sparingly, talking about travel is everything that talking about your job isn’t: engaging, entertaining, and generally enjoyable to all those within earshot” 

CHAPTER 3 – Jobs and Money

”My biggest weakness? Probably that I’m too motivated. Also, I tend to steal staplers. So I apologize for that in advance. Say, is that a Swingline?” “No, no. Thank you. I’m sort of an interview fanatic. This is my twelfth today.” “I’ll tell you what I led: a whole fu**ing platoon in ‘Nam. Don’t tell me there’s no way I was old enough to serve in the Vietnam War. I was old enough to die for my country.” “I don’t have a weakness. Seriously, take this gun and try to shoot me in the face. It will bounce right off. At least for your sake, I hope it will; it’s just a theory I’ve been toying with.”

“Look the person directly in the eye when shaking his or her hand. A firm handshake without eye contact is like an HJ without lubricant. Painful, unfulfilling, and reminiscent of the tenth grade.” 

“If you’re looking to get a free meal, you’re going to have to make it look like a business lunch. Tell your bosses that you need to ask an expert for his opinion on a project you’re working on and that you’ve set up a lunch meeting. Then go out and meet a friend of yours for steaks. Make sure to keep the receipt. When you come back, tell your bosses that your meeting mate was mighty helpful, but he ate like a pig. “He had two steaks, so I just had mashed potatoes. Thanks again!”

“If you want to use your expense account to score something free for your house, you’re going to have to convince the bosses that you need it for your office. “You know, it’s mighty hard to concentrate here without a couch.” Then when you go to purchase it, ask the boys down at the couch depot if you can get a buy-one-get-one-free deal if you promise to pay three times the ticket price. They’ll be confused but will obviously agree, and you’ll have spent $3,000 on two $1,000 couches—one for the office, the other for your home. When you give your boss the receipt, tell him, “They had one cheaper, but…I think we’re better than that.” He’ll agree and you’ll recline. Everybody wins. Except for your boss. He loses.” 

You can always pick out an MBA in a meeting; she’s the one talking about synergizing the value chain. At first, you’ll be intimidated by these big words. Then you’ll realize they’re absolutely insane and utterly meaningless.” 

”Oh, I haven’t heard of them, what do they do?” Good question. It’s time to get more vague. Your fictional company can specialize in anything from “supply-chain consulting” to “information systems” to even “human capital management.” These are all dead-end, boring answers that require no further elaboration.” 

CHAPTER 4 – The Sporting Life

“If you are bad at basketball, you’re not just unathletic. You’re a disgrace. You’re a pu**y. You’re barely even a man. Yes, no matter how much money you make, how many times you’ve received tenure at Harvard, or how many women you’ve slept with, your value to society is dictated by how well you can perform at a game favored by unemployed teenagers.” 

CHAPTER 5 – The Handyman 

“Yelling. I wanna see YOU fix the kitchen sink, slut!” isn’t a great way to prove her wrong.” 

CHAPTER 6 – Fashion and Grooming

“Never, ever button your bottom button. If you are wearing a three-button suit, you button the middle one. The top one can be buttoned as a matter of personal preference, but never without the middle one already buttoned. For a two-button suit, just the top button is fastened. Unbutton when you sit down.”

CHAPTER 7 – Caring for Your Home

Cleaning, mopping, scrubbing, polishing, washing, vacuuming. Some people don’t have enough time in the day to bother with all of these necessary gerunds. So you can do what any reasonable upper-middle class family does: Hire a live-in maid.

CHAPTER 8 – Entertaining Guests

“Any vodka below Grey Goose, any gin below Bombay, or any fortified wine below Thunderbird is completely unacceptable to a sophisticated crowd”

“The spirit world is divided up into two main categories, whisky and brandy. Cognac—By far the most famous brandy, it is named after the commune in France where cognac is made. It is a grape-based spirit favored by rappers and other assorted ballers. Bourbon—A type of whisky made in America with at least 51 percent corn in the mash. Scotch—A type of whisky made in Scotland. There are two main kinds of Scotch: single malt and blended.” 

“Single Malt—Whisky made from one distillery. The Glenlivet would be an example of a single malt Scotch. Johnny Walker Black Label is an example of blended malt Scotch.” 

”An example of this is Johnny Walker Blue Label. Most people who don’t know much about Scotch see the $200 price tag on a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue and think to themselves that this is a quality whisky. What they don’t realize is that the base malt of Johnny Walker Blue is Royal Lochnagar, a Scotch which costs roughly 20 percent of what you would pay for Johnny Walker Blue.” 

“And as for the drinking itself, Kelley says to enjoy all spirits the same way: slowly. “Sip it. Small sips. Take your time. This is something that should not be drunk inside of ten minutes. You should be able to take your time and enjoy it. If you want to have a cigar with it, have a cigar. If you want to eat a little something, a lot of this stuff goes great with various fruits and even chocolate; you can pair it up, but do not rush it.”

“The best way to deal with the cops is to plan ahead. Several hours before your party, make a series of fake complaints to the cops about the noise coming out of your apartment. As they make stops at your place before the party even starts, try to contain your laughter as you tell them, “Sorry about my annoying neighbors, officer; you can just ignore them for the rest of the night.” When the party hits into high gear and your actual neighbors complain about the noise, nobody will believe their story. Those little neighbors who cried wolf will never know what hit them. (A thrown whisky bottle.)” 

“Cooking is like Cartesian philosophy: Perception is reality.” 

CHAPTER 9 – Hitting the Town

“Ordering the cheapest bottle on the menu, here’s an easy trick: Hold up the wine menu, point to the desired bottle, and tell the waiter, “I’ll have this one, please.” If she asks, simply smile and say, “Oh, one of my favorites. It’s a surprise.” Don’t tell her the surprise is that you ordered the cheapest bottle of wine.”

“The next morning: One-night stand or not, get up before she does, make coffee, and pay for a light breakfast. If it was a one-night stand, she’s probably feeling as uncomfortable as you are; rather than ignore her in an attempt to get her out the door as fast as possible (dick), try to partake in at least ten minutes of genial conversation. And don’t leave your number unless you actually want her to call. If not, leave her the number of your friend Todd and have him answer the phone.

“Since everything has at least a 400 percent markup on it, you know you’re getting ripped off and will be paying around forty bucks for a ten-dollar bottle of shiraz you could have drunk at home. You also don’t want to just order the cheapest thing on the menu, because even if it’s good, you will look stingy in front of your date.”

“When she asks what seems odd, just point out that the wine list is very odd, and they have a top-flight bottle at the bottom of the price list. Then spout a made-up fact about it, such as, “They must be confused… 2003 was a great year, they must have meant it was their 2004, which was kind of one dimensional.” Great, now you don’t look cheap, just smarter than the sommelier.”

“He will then remove the cork and hand it to you. Unless you want to look like an a*s, don’t put it to your nose. All that will really tell you is whether it smells like a wine cork. Instead, just inspect it for signs of obvious damage that would ruin the flavor by letting in air. The waiter will then pour an ounce or two of wine into your glass for you to taste. You’re looking for signs of spoilage, oxidation, or bacterial infection.” 

“If you want to go even cheaper, hand the waiter a note to the sommelier. Your date will think you’re an expert who needs to communicate directly with the sommelier. Have it read, “Dude, I’ll give you ten bucks if you’ll pour some cheap vodka in a pitcher of grape Kool-Aid. What? No? Okay, double or nothing if she doesn’t notice.” He’ll play ball, and you’ll save some cash. Oooooh yeah!” 

“Cabernet Sauvignon—Strong red with notes of black currant and other dark fruits. Great with red meats. Chardonnay—Hearty, popular white often aged in oak to give it a vanilla and other flavors; otherwise has crisp fruity flavor. Pinot Grigio—Lightly crisp and subtle white that has melon and other fruity flavors and pairs nicely with fish. Pinot Noir—A lighter red that often has a subtle complexity with cherry or raspberry flavors. Sauvignon Blanc—Crisp, dry white wine made in Bordeaux. Shiraz/Syrah—Bold flavors with pepper and chocolate notes, strong enough to stand up to spicy foods. Heinz 57—Oh, actually, that’s not wine. “Sir, will you please take that ketchup bottle out of your ice bucket; it’s against restaurant policy.”

“QUICK TIP: To seem more important than you are, ask for coffee with milk. When it comes, take a sip, look disgusted and say, “Cow’s milk? What am I, a medieval serf?” and throw it across the room.”

“Unlike the first three letters of the name, funerals are not fun. They should be called boringerals.”

CHAPTER 10 – Dating

“This is why the best place to meet girls in an art museum is …the art museum coffee shop. “When you’re standing next to a girl who is perusing a rack, pick up a dress and say, “Do you think this will slenderize my legs?” Guaranteed laugh.” 

“First E-mail Do’s “Hey, it was fun talking with you on Saturday. I sincerely hope I smelled appropriately.” “Beth gave me your contact info. Don’t worry; she only told me the first six digits of your Social Security number. She’s a stickler for privacy, isn’t she?”

“Third E-mail Do’s “I actually know this really good restaurant opening up if you’re interested. If not, I make a killer Boboli pizza. The secret ingredient is cheese.” “I don’t suppose you like food, do you? I’m absolutely mad for it. I can eat up to three meals a day if left unchecked. Hopefully we can eat one together?”

“Minutes before boarding a flight, most men will sit down at their gate and scan the waiting area for any unbelievably attractive women that may be forced to sit next to them for several hours. If you are lucky enough to find one, you anxiously board your plane and wait for her to walk down the aisle, hoping to God she pauses at your row and says, “Oh, can I squeeze by?” Unfortunately, this rarely happens.” 

“Don’t have yourself staying in jail too long, but say it was “the scariest six hours of your life.” Of course, when it went to court, you totally got off because the charges were bullshit, but you’ve seen the inside of the joint.” 

“Steer clear of Catholicism, which has all sorts of rituals you’ll be expected to know about, and claim some low-impact Protestant denomination like Methodism or Lutheranism.” 

“Anything beyond this and you’re on your own. You might want to consider taking the universal escape hatch of “I feel that organized religion is an oppressive force used to keep the privileged in power.” This is Marx’s argument, not yours, but even most coffee-shop Communists haven’t read all of Das Kapital, so you’re fine with it. You don’t want to seem completely nihilistic, though, so follow it up with: “But I am very spiritual and believe in a JudeoChristian God who is the Creator and a benevolent force in the universe.” Ah, you’ve covered all your bases there.” 

“$160 may seem like a lot of money to spend on a fancy dinner date, but as long as you can keep the rest of your week’s food budget under $50, you’re still at a respectable $30-a-day average for food. Living for six days while only spending $50 on food is tough, especially if you have a job and eat lunch out every day, but it’s not impossible.”

“The first thing to remember is that girls often confuse “sensitive” with “not self-absorbed.”

“If she can answer any questions about your life following the date, you’ve blown it.”

“As soon as she looks at her phone, jokingly say, “Did you tell one of your friends to call you in case the date was going terribly?”

“In fact, it’s just starting. You see, getting a girl to have sex with you once is the easy part; sealing the deal so you can have sex many more times is considerably tougher.”

“Plus, snuggling is fun; don’t act so cool, dude. One caveat, though: If this is some random girl you just picked up in a bar, feel her out on the cuddling issue first, as she may see it as more creepy than endearing.”

“Once you put in a good twenty minutes of totally emasculating cuddling, you’re pretty much free to try to initiate a second round of sex. If that doesn’t work, immediately give up and return to cuddling for another five or so minutes, then get up and explain that you’ve got stuff to do.”

“Parents are basically looking for three things: a) that you’re polite, b) that you’re not potentially violent, and c) that you have some sort of decent career prospects. If you can string this stuff together, they’ll probably consent to tolerating you at every other family holiday until they die and leave a disappointingly small inheritance. God, they shouldn’t have put so much of their money in pork-belly futures.”

College Humor Quote

“Do: Offer to walk or drive the person home, or at least to her subway/bus stop. This way, you look considerate, but you still get rid of her. “Seriously, put your coat on, we’re leaving. I am not letting you walk home alone. Right now.”

“She’s the one who is actually cool (thus keeping with the scientifically proven corollary that larger girls tend to have the best personalities since, unlike their hotter counterparts, they’ve actually been forced to cultivate them).” 

“Because having the fat friend on your side is a huge (ha ha) asset when you try to hook up with her hotter friends, that’s why.”

Book Review (Personal Opinion):

This was a fun book to read. You do learn some basic information about different areas of life that you should know. But you also learn how to bullshit your way through different scenarios at work, home, on dates, or at social gatherings. I wouldn’t recommend that, but it’s still a fun book to read.

Rating: 6/10

This Book Is For (Recommend):

  • A millennial trying to impress a girl on a date
  • A young professional who wants to appears knowledgeable and wise at work
  • A lazy person who wants to appear sophisticated without actually being sophisticated 

If You Want To Learn More

Here’s CollegeHumor’s YouTube channel.

How I’ve Implemented The Ideas From The Book

I had no idea about wines, whiskeys, and brandies so I learned a lot about that from the book! 

One Small Actionable Step You Can Do

As one quick tip from the book said: You can pass off catered food as your own, but be reasonable. Nobody’s going to believe you just whipped up some S’mores Pop-Tarts.

Faking It How To Seem Like A Better Person - Summary Infographic