One of our recommended books is Avidly Reads Board Games by Eric Thurm

AVIDLY READS BOARD GAMES


Avidly Reads is a series of short books about how culture makes us feel. Founded in 2012 by Sarah Blackwood and Sarah Mesle, Avidly—an online magazine supported by the Los Angeles Review of Books—specializes in short-form critical essays devoted to thinking and feeling. Avidly Reads is an exciting new series featuring books that are part memoir, part cultural criticism, each bringing to life the author’s emotional relationship to a cultural artifact or experience. Avidly Reads invites us to explore the surprising pleasures and obstacles of everyday life.

Writer and critic Eric Thurm digs deep into his own experience as a board game enthusiast to explore the emotional and social rules that games create and reveal,

more …

Avidly Reads is a series of short books about how culture makes us feel. Founded in 2012 by Sarah Blackwood and Sarah Mesle, Avidly—an online magazine supported by the Los Angeles Review of Books—specializes in short-form critical essays devoted to thinking and feeling. Avidly Reads is an exciting new series featuring books that are part memoir, part cultural criticism, each bringing to life the author’s emotional relationship to a cultural artifact or experience. Avidly Reads invites us to explore the surprising pleasures and obstacles of everyday life.

Writer and critic Eric Thurm digs deep into his own experience as a board game enthusiast to explore the emotional and social rules that games create and reveal, telling a series of stories about a pastime that is also about relationships. From the outdated gender roles in Life and Mystery Date to the cutthroat, capitalist priorities of Monopoly and its socialist counterpart, Class Struggle, Thurm thinks through his ongoing rivalries with his siblings and ponders the ways games both upset and enforce hierarchies and relationships—from the familial to the geopolitical. Like sitting down at the table for family game night, Board Games is an engaging book of twists and turns, trivia, and nostalgia.

less …
  • NYU Press
  • Paperback
  • 144 Pages
  • 9781479826957

Buy the Book

$14.95

indies Bookstore indies Bookstore

About Eric Thurm

Eric Thurm is a writer whose work has appeared in, among other publications, Esquire, WIRED, Real Life, and The New York Times.

 

Praise

“It is a truth too rarely acknowledged that there is nothing better than being both smart and fun: how lucky for us, then, that Avidly Reads books are both. To delve into them is to engage new ideas without having to sacrifice pleasure for knowledge, or feeling for thinking.” —Naomi Fry, staff writer at the New Yorker

“It’s exciting to come upon a new series of titles that work as hybrid memoirs and cultural criticism about their given topic . . . [These books] carefully distill a brief history of their topic, each with the writers’ distinct sensibilities. It’s a pleasure to explore how effectively each writer balances personal memoir with subject analysis in this series.” —Christopher John Stephens, PopMatters

“[T]his is one of the charms of Avidly Reads: where a nonfiction author who is enthusiastic about their subject matter strives to maintain an even tone, here, their devotion…shines through.” —Linda Levitt, PopMatters

Discussion Questions

1. Throughout chapter one, Thurm describes several different experiences playing Catan with different people — friends, family, and so on. Have you experienced games rules changing based on who you were playing with?

2. A game like Juden Raus feels immensely dated, even though the attitudes it expressed were common in Germany at the time. What ideas and “facts” do we take for granted in game form that might appear embarrassing or repugnant in 50 years?

3. What aspects of traditional board games does Brenda Romero’s Train include? What does it lack? Do you think it should be considered a game, or something else?

4. How does knowing the history of Monopoly change the way you feel about the game, and past times you’ve played it? Would you approach it any differently now?

5. Games like Blacks and Whites and Woman and Man try to teach the player something by putting them in the position of another person. Do you think games can be successful at creating this kind of empathy? Have you ever learned to see another person differently in this way?

6. How does the experience of quarterbacking compare to group dynamics on other sorts of projects? Is winning a collaborative game by yourself still winning?

7. How does The Grizzled use its rules and mechanics as its avenue to communicate its lesson about World War I? What other rules do we deal with in our day-to-day lives that communicate similar lessons?

8. Explore the comparison between legacy games and seasons of television. How do the experiences line up? Differ?