Holiday Gift Guide, Part 12 – Books!

Well, about a month ago, we (as a group) had a great idea to get a bunch of things written down and provide our readers with a nice gift giving list.  Welp, let’s just say that we didn’t get our you-know-what together…  So, instead of a big list, I have decided to just make some shorter posts with things that catch my eye (or things that I notice to be on sale).   As I make these impromptu posts, I will try to stick to things which can be delivered prior to Dec. 25 — this likely means that they are things in stock on Amazon Prime.  (All the Amazon links here are affiliate links, and the Opinionated Gamers may earn a commission if you buy from those links)

You know, some days you just want to give someone a book.  Yeah, I know that there isn’t much reading going on in the world these days – but there are still some people (like myself and Joe Huber) who really enjoy this sort of thing.  Many of the books can also be purchased in E-Book form, so you know, those youngsters can read them on their phones…

Mark J. recently reviewed My Journey to Catan – the hardcover only book can be seen here:


This is Herr Teuber’s story – beginning in childhood and working up to the present day – with a focus on how Catan came into existence and then basically took over the world. Along the way, he shares anecdotes and stories that help detail the history of the design and proliferation of this incredibly popular game. 

And, while we’re talking about Catan, did you realize that there was also:

A puzzlebook?

A novel?

A cookbook?

(Yeah, we haven’t reviewed these, but Amazon keeps recommending them to me!)





The Game of Authors Compendium was reviewed by Joe Huber – “One of my hobbies – if not one I get to pursue often – is researching the histories of games. I’ve spent a lot of time understanding the history of Acquire, and I’ve tried to understand how Pit and all of the variations on the game came to be, with less success. So this book – looking at the history of The Game of Authors – is right up my alley.”  It’s not available on Amazon, but look here:


I recently looked at a puzzle/maze in a book, Daedalian Depths

daedalian depths cover

The premise of that book is: “There are forty-five rooms in the Maze and each room is numbered. As outlined in the directions, by selecting the correct door in each room, it is possible to go from room #1 to room #45 and back to room #1 in only sixteen steps. Hidden in room #45 is a riddle. The answer to that riddle is concealed somewhere along the shortest path through the Maze.”

And, let’s not forget about a game which is found in book format – Cantaloop


Cantaloop is a book that you interact with and try to solve the mystery that the protagonist finds himself in – that is figuring out how to break into the jail in Cantaloop.  Think back to your youth (well, my youth at least), and do you remember all those great point and click adventure games that you played on your Apple IIe or your brand new 486?  Well, Cantaloop brings memories of those adventure games back to the forefront.  I’m talking about the classics here – like Leisure Suit Larry or Sam and Max Hit the Road! 

Erik Arneson has written up a great guide on How To Host A Game Night!


Read our full review here


What about a book that isn’t a book?  There is an amazing puzzle found in Cain’s Jawbone


 “In 1934, The Observer’s crossword writer, Edward Powys Mathers, wrote a unique novel Cain’s Jawbone. The title, referring to the first recorded murder weapon, was written under his pen name Torquemada. The story was not only a murder mystery but one of the hardest and most beguiling word puzzles ever published.

The 100 pages of the book were printed and bound out of order and the reader was invited to re-order the pages, solve the mysteries and reveal the murderer(s).  And, you get a box, that looks like a book, that gives you the 100 pages in looseleaf format, and you are challenged to reorder them to form the book!

I know I talked about the Catan novel above… There are also a few Romance novel series that use boardgames as a backdrop – one of them I reviewed here


I think there are at least three books in the series so far, and as I’ve been told about romance novel series – there’s always the chance of a new book or a spin-off series!  Get the first book here –

And finally, a few books for those interested in game design or academia

The Kobold Guide to Game Design –


Says Joe Huber in his review: “I have read a number of books on board game design, and most have followed the same formula, helping the aspiring game designer through the process from inspiration to game to sale, often offering anecdotal tales of the trials and tribulations other designers have face.  Selinker – a notable game designer himself – takes a very different approach, with twenty different essays, divided into four sections.  As a result, the book doesn’t feel as cohesive as other books on the subject – but it does offer a broader set of advice.”

And finally, for some light bedtime reading – – 


Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design: An Encyclopedia of Mechanisms compiles hundreds of different mechanisms, organized by category. Each has a description of how it works, discussion of its pros and cons, how it can be implemented, and examples of specific games that use it. Building Blocks can be read cover to cover, used as a reference when looking for inspiration for a new design, help solving a specific problem, or assist in getting unstuck in the midst of a project. This book, the first to collect mechanisms like this in the tabletop game design field, aims to be a practical guide that will be a great starting point for beginning designers, a handy guidebook for the experienced, and an ideal classroom textbook.

For what it’s worth – this is the reference that has used to refine their own categorization system on their website…

This list should hopefully give you a few ideas for the bookworm gamer on your list.


About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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1 Response to Holiday Gift Guide, Part 12 – Books!

  1. I’d also recommend GameTek by Geoff Englestein… it’s basically print versions of some of his excellent segments from the Dice Tower & Ludology podcasts – only fleshed out more and still with the same trademark sense of humor and love of science.

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