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Avidly Reads Board Games

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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  36 ratings  ·  17 reviews
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 From the outdated gender roles in Life and Mystery Date to the cutthroat, capitalist priorities of Monopoly and its socialist counterpa ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by New York University Press (first published 2019)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Anjana
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book tackles games in such a fashion that it has made my recent obsession with board games feel more than justified (I have had other little successes recently but this put a whole academic spin on it). My love for board games is a personal thing, as personal as the number of players required lets me keep it. With the reaches of the internet and my yearly plan to spend x amount of money on games and the discovery of boardgamegeek.com, I have learnt a lot about the 'industry'. Game night is ...more
Chance Lee
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Avidly Reads series is the latest in a line of small-format non-fiction books I've been reading -- ECW Press's Pop Classics, MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series, Bloomsbury's Object Lessons. This one has the worst cover art by far (did they even try), but the best writing. I found this combination of memoir and history of board games a compelling read, especially when Thurm explores how games can transform our minds and our thinking, if only until the pieces go back in the box. ...more
Bill
Sep 06, 2019 rated it liked it
In the Avidly Reads series of short books, an author mixes of personal narrative and research to closely focus on a single topic (similar to the Object lessons series but less constrained), something that both moves the writer personally but also has some impact on culture at large. For Eric Thurm, that subject is board games.

The straightforwardly titled Avidly Reads Board Games opens with Thurm and his siblings setting up a game of Settlers of Catan in the waiting room of a hospital as they wai
...more
Elizabeth
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love board games. I've been really into the hobby for the last two years, but I played plenty of games growing up, from games of Clue with my whole family or intense showdowns of Stratego with my sister. While I have moved on to slightly heavier and more niche games, the attraction of board games for me is the opportunity to get immersed in the world of a game with one or several other people for an hour or two. In Avidly Reads Board Games. Eric Thurm clearly captures the joy of board gaming w ...more
Darius Ostrowski
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
So, I approached this book with great anticipation – I enjoy board games, love pop culture history, and was looking forward to learning about how board games have evolved throughout the last 100 years or so. As a result of these expectations, I was disappointed in this book. The author focused on a few board games and used them as a starting point for the discussion of societal trends, and how board games play a role in our culture. Catan, Monopoly, and Pandemic were the main games discussed (al ...more
Theediscerning
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a promising start for me to a new semi-academic series of books, a bit like the Bloomsbury 'Object Lessons' imprint. Our narrator did fall into the trap of reciting too much I already knew, especially about the origins of "Monopoly", but went much further into 'legacy games' which to me seem a wasteful, single-use version of something computer software could do so much more sensibly. But the argument against that opinion is that board games can only be board games if you take all electr ...more
Mark Martinico
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I received a free copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review. I found it to be a fun, light read, with a mix of general board game history, and the author’s personal game playing experiences. It touched on some games I knew, and some I did not, and presented it all with the enthusiasm of an avid gamer.
It is not entirely clear to me who the intended audience is here - avid tabletop gamer or newbie - but as someone who falls right in the middle, I found it to be an enjoyable read.
Peculiar
...more
Ebb
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading Thurm's look at board games both personally and in a historical context. He takes us through his personal experience as a board gamer with his family and friends, but also mixes in a rich history of board games and the social and political context that surrounded the creation of some games. This includes a Nazi board game, racial and political board games, and others that make the player take a closer look at how these games can reflect real-life problems. I found the bo ...more
Kristine
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
Avidly Reads Board Games by Eric Thurm is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early October.

Thurm studies the history of board games and offers cultural and psychological analysis while speaking of the shared knowledge of a game, symbolically using the time it takes to play it, sometimes bringing people fundamentally together while (other times) plugging in a wedge of ire and competition, potential of seamless co-op play, feeling content or filled with rage at the end of a game, depending if t
...more
Jonathon Jones
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good, thoughtful meditation on board games and how we play them. I especially appreciated the thoughts about how games affect us through what they are having us do (for example, acting as Nazis to load Jews on trains). Board games' ability to serve as tools for changing beliefs and feelings (like making terrible behavior seems mundane, or alternately to help us to understand the people who lose under capitalism) is certainly worth exploring. ...more
David Hill
Dec 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: gr-giveaway
This was a fun and entertaining short read, it is exactly as the description describes. I was expecting a little more diversity in the games discussed but from what I have read it sounds like I need to get some friends together for some Catan.
Thank you New York University Press, Eric Thurm, and Goodreads for supplying me with a free copy in exchange for my honest review.
Korryn Mozisek
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I found it a bit repetitive and unfocused, particularly as it related to the focus of the book. Needed more depth as to the particular genres indicate various dimensions about culture rather than being so focused on the premise and rules of the various games.
Travis Wagner
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A surprisingly engaging book that asks, at times, obvious questions about gaming, but comes back with some really earnest and evocative answers.
Lauren
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm no hobbyist but this was too compelling to put down for very long; I was eager to know which game would be next in line for exegesis and how/why. Also: funny! ...more
Paul
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
An interesting, thoughtful collection of essays examining board games and table-top games as narrative popular culture.
Jen
Oct 16, 2019 rated it liked it
As a board game player myself, I found this to be an interesting collection of essays about the history and joys of playing board games. In some ways, the collection quite academic in terms of "reading" ganes critically as a subject but the tone is quite light and the essays are not too heavy to read. ...more
Brice Fuqua
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Most books about board games give strategies for winning or tell anecdotes about playing the games. Thurm's book puts its emphasis on the philosophy of board games. He is particularly interested in collaborative games like Catan, where the players must work together in order for anyone to win.
According to the author, it is this face-to-face interactivity that distinguishes board games from their video counterparts.
Thurm looks at the history of politically motivated games on both the left and ri
...more
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