If your daily reading is scanning the headlines of USA Today, without reading the articles Helen McCrory Bellatrix Narcissa signatures shirt, you might gain a small increase in your knowledge of the world, but not enough to claim to be smarter. Becoming smarter, ultimately, is about thinking. Thinking more, thinking better, thinking critically. So read things that make you think. Fiction, non-fiction, news, humor, whatever. Read things that expose you to new ideas. Read things that make you look at old ideas a different way. Re-read things you read decades ago when you were in a different mindset to see how your own viewpoint has changed. Generally, the best thing to do when encountering such people is to take the statement as unimportant, meaningless noise. Unless it’s a child, you have little chance of changing their mind, so arguing the point is usually going to be a waste of time. Just smile and nod and go on reading.
I read to feed my brain, to dream, to time travel, to absorb the life experiences of other people, to build my life strategy, to figure out how far I want to take my career and my personal development, to sharpen my critical thinking skills. Books make me feel good, they boost my endorphins, they are my personal ritual that I’ve kept over the years, they are a daily habit that I enjoy, and that brings me happiness. Try reading 20 books on a single topic. By that point, you should be reading academic works, and tracking down every citation in the back of the book, and maybe one of only a dozen people in the world (the authors of the book!) with such specialized knowledge. This will put you in an incredible position to use your now-unique knowledge to make some positive changes in the world. It really depends on what sort of content you’re reading. Reading tons of articles or books which deal with daily affairs, world politics, new technologies, etc. will allow you to have more knowledge. You will be in a prime position to have a discussion with someone you meet at a discussion or a party about these things which might make the other person think, “Wow he/she is really smart!”.