Books about games

I’ve been reading books about games lately. Mostly books describing the rules to various card games, including the classic of classics: Hoyle’s Games. It’s not the original version from the 18th century, but a modern version from the 50’s. Still, it’s a neat book. Now I’d really love to play Piquet and other fine and interesting card games.

I’m currently reading perhaps the best novel about games: Iain M. Banks’ The Player of Games. It is highly recommended for every literary gamer, as is Iain Banks’ (without the M) Walking on Glass. Banks often has his characters play games, I’ve noticed. Today I also found a childhood favourite of mine: Interstellar Pig by William Sleator. The Finnish title Avaruuspeli (Space Game in English) sounds a bit more appropriate, perhaps. We’ll see how it turns out now, about ten years later. There’s also the La Tabla de Flandes (The Flanders Panel) by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, which has a strong Chess flavour in it. Any other good books with games in them?

Strange, though — I was very fascinated by the book, I even designed my own space game (I even forced my parents to play it once with me — of course it was really, really terrible) inspired by it. When I told about it to Johanna, it turned out it was one of her favourites too. She had also made her own space game! That’s so cool.

(Amazon.co.uk links: Hoyle’s Games,

The Player of Games, Walking on Glass, Interstellar Pig, The Flanders Panel)

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7 thoughts on “Books about games”

  1. I didn’t like Piquet. It felt very luck based and there were too many fiddly rules. It didn’t have the elegance of modern German designs. I prefer Schnapsen or German Whist for two.
    The Player of Games is excellent.

  2. I should try them, too, if I get a chance… But hey, I like fiddly rules. Majiang is nothing but a simple Rummy game with tons of fiddly rules loaded on top of it. I think there’s some elegance to it, anyway — it’s not clean and simple like German games, of course, but I kind of adore the tradition in it. The rules are fiddly, but at the same time charming.
    What comes to books, I forgot one that’s very essential: Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game”.

  3. “The Glass Bead Game” by Hermann Hesse. And of course Sid Sackson’s “Gamut of Games” is an absolute treasure trove, and includes the Domino Bead Game inspired by Hesse’s book.

  4. Ender blew me away. It was brilliant and I only read it about six months ago. I’m back at 2000+ pages of war history now, but perhaps I’ll read the rest of the Ender-saga after them.

  5. There’s another very interesting book listed as related to the New Rules for Classic Games in Amazon: Dice Games Properly Explained by Reiner Knizia. I’d like to get my hands on that, as well.

  6. I just ordered Dice Games Properly Explained. I’ve been meaning to get it for a long time, as it’s very cheap — £5.

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