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Pinball Wizards: Jackpots, Drains, and the Cult of the Silver Ball

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  80 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Pinball’s history is America’s history, from gambling and war-themed machines to the arcade revolution and, ultimately, the decline of the need to leave your house. The strangest thing about pinball is that it persists, and not just as nostalgia. Pinball didn’t just stick around—it grew and continues to evolve with the times. Somehow, in today’s iPhone world, a ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 1st 2017 by Chicago Review Press
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Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pinball Wizards is an appropriate title for this book, because author Adam Ruben is his own sort of pinball wizard – he somehow made an entire book about pinball thoroughly entertaining.

The book is far better written than it has any right to be, and Ruben structures it in such a way as to keep it interesting throughout. Rather than simply tell a history of pinball, Ruben weaves three different stories together throughout the entirety of the book. The first story is the history of pinball, which
Jason Pittman
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Adam takes the reader on an adventure into pro pinball competition while zinging the reader along the pinball backstory. Adam's own pursuit of pinball glory follows the ups and downs and loops of pinball's past, and he's woven the two together to create a terrific tribute to his favorite pastime.
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Pinball Wizards is an unapologetically personal diary of a pinball enthusiast. While there are some historical aspects added, really this is about Ruben and his love of the silver ball game/tournament play. Which can be both good and bad in this instance: if you are interested in reading a diary of what it's like to be at a professional tournament when your wife doesn't agree with the pasttime and you don't make it into
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: niches
I learned to count in part because of the Sesame Street “Pinball Count” song (with accompanying animation). My father’s best friend had an old-fashioned pachinko game at his apartment that I played constantly. I grew up with pinball games still a significant presence in video arcades, and my adolescence coincided with the late ‘80s-early ‘90s pinball boom. In short, I was primed to be a pinball-obsessed adult, especially once a museum full of playable machines dating from the 1940s onward opened ...more
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Betsy by: Goodreads Giveaway
I won an advanced copy of this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. Woo-hoo! Multiball!

I wasted a good part of my 20s and 30s behind the flippers of a pinball machine. So I jumped on this book when came up as a Goodreads Giveaway. When I got a Goodreads "You Are a Winner" email, I shouted in glee (yes, really). I don't get a chance to play very much anymore, but I still have big place in my heart for everything about the game.

Pinball Wizards is a detailed, scholarly work on the history of pinball,
Edwin Howard
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
PINBALL WIZARDS by Adam Ruben is about the history of pinball told through the eyes of a avid pinball fan, coupled with the writer's adventures in competitive pinball and his reflecting on why people have been drawn to pinball over the years.
It's clear that Ruben is a pinball fanatic and enjoyed learning about and writing about pinball. He delves into it's beginning, how it was considered a tool of gambling for a long time and banned many places and Ruben carries used through to today. He
Zachary Owen
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Out of everything I've read so far this year, Pinball Wizards has to be one of my favorites. I found the history of Pinball to be fascinating and complex. Ruben's visits to the PAPA pinball tournaments were also illuminating and entertaining. Suddenly, I think I'm in love with pinball, too! Not all of Ruben's jokes land (in fact, quite a few of them made me groan) but when they do, they're sidesplitting. I was so enthused about Pinball Wizards that I actually started reading it slower...which is ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I met the author, Adam Ruben, at a story-telling event. His story was pretty good, but I was surprised to find him hawking this book in intermission. Turns out he plays at the same arcade as I do. Of course I bought the book from him since pinball is one of my hobbies. The book is surprisingly good. I say "surprisingly" not as a backhanded compliment, but as a true surprise that there was so much I didn't know about pinball. He weaves his personal relationship to pinball into its history and ...more
Miles McCoy
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
A solid, comprehensive overview of pinball's history, the state of the game today and a small glimpse at where it's headed. Along the way, Adam Ruben introduces us to the motley crew of people that make up the contemporary pinball playing community. I have a lot of friends who are into pinball (some even compete in PAPA) and I wanted to learn more, but I didn't want anything too overwhelming or technical. Adam seems to recognize that the potential for confusion in this topic is high, so he is ...more
Marianne Dauphin
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a pinball witch, this was a wonderful look into the history of my favorite game and the stress that comes with competition. It's amazing that while this book was written in 2018, a lot of the companies and IPs mentioned have come into fruition as games (or are coming out soon, like Rick and Morty). A good read for aficionados!
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a great read that talks about the current resurgence in pinball as well as its history in our culture. The crazy thing is that while it was recently written, so much has already changed in the landscape. It was cool to read about people I know and events I was competing at and the universal themes we all struggle with with the silver ball!
Brandon Hoffman
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book. It gives the history of pinball mixed with the experiences of a “not very good” competitive player. The author’s writing style is very interesting and has great flow. I highly recommend this book to both pinball enthusiasts as well as people who would just like to learn about the history of pinball. Great work.
Andrew Reighard
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great study on what it meant, means, and will mean to love pinball.
Luke Nelson
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best pinball book of 2017

A fun read. A personal journey combined with some history. If you love pinball you'll enjoy Adams wit and stories.
Peter McDermott
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
My rating is probably unfair. I probably don't care enough about Pinball, but the book didn't make me care any more about it.
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the few books I've actually laughed out loud reading.
Kacey Crum
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interesting how pinball took off like Fortnite today.
Amy Booth
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Funny, engaging, and interesting book about the history and fascination of the game of pinball. Yes, you can still play pinball. If you don't know what pinball is and have never played, check it out!
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very enjoyable read about the history of pinball. I especially enjoyed the author's depiction of his family life while making his pinball journey.
Matthew Gilmore
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book, great read.
Sommer Panage
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Dec 27, 2019
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Dec 19, 2017
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Nov 27, 2017
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Jul 04, 2018
Jen Yi
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Oct 28, 2017
Virgil Verba
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Jan 24, 2020
Emily Thompson
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Feb 22, 2018
Josh Ryder
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Jun 22, 2018
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