I’ll Trade You a Sheep for That Book: 8 Books for Board Gamers

I have been a board gamer for as long as I can remember. Growing up in a family with three brothers, I began playing board games at a young age. My childhood is filled with fond memories of beating my brothers at checkers, failing miserably at chess, playing endless card games with my cousins, getting drawn into epic games of Disney Charades with our neighbors, and my little brother always getting an absurd number of Yahtzees each time we played.

For some of our family’s favorite games, we’d come up with our own additional rules or traditions to add to the fun. Upon finishing a round of The AMAZEing Labyrinth, we’d have to use the treasure cards we found during the game to each tell a silly story. After many contentious family arguments over what the actual rules to Dominos were (it’s still a bit nebulous to me, honestly), my brother crafted a handwritten list of the rules we were supposed to follow. As the years went by and we began discovering even more epic games like The Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Betrayal at House On the Hill, my love for board games kept growing.

Board games hold a special place in my heart for a variety of reasons. Of course they make for a fun way to pass the time, but they’re so much more than that. Board games make us laugh and draw out our playfulness and secret competitive streaks. We rotate from tentative allies to the bitterest of rivals in a heartbeat and then back again to friends by the end. Board games bring people together.

When I think about how I like spending my time, I’ll be the first to admit I’d probably rather be board gaming. If I can’t be board gaming, I’ll take reading books about board games as a close second. Below, I’ve drawn together a list of books for board gamers. I hope these reads bring you as much joy as board games do.

Books for Board Gamers

selective focus photography of chess pieces
Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

If You Enjoy Traditional Games Like Chess, Try:

Flanders Panel Book Cover

The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

I thought I’d kick off my list of books for board gamers with this book in translation by Arturo Pérez-Reverte for enthusiasts of classic games like chess, checkers, Go, Mancala, and Backgammon. This story involves an intriguing art history mystery related to chess. While restoring a 15th century painting of a chess match between the Duke of Flanders and his knight, art expert Julia comes across a hidden message that sends her on a hunt for a Renaissance-era murderer.

If You Enjoy Murder Mystery Games Like Clue, Try:

cover image Miss Aldridge Regrets

Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare

Don’t get me started on the perfection that is the movie Clue starring Tim Curry. This next book goes out to all of my fellow fans of murder mystery board games such as Clue and Mysterium (and Tim Curry buttling). Like those suspenseful games, this book involves a historical setting and a locked-room mystery (on a boat, no less). Lena Aldridge is a mixed race nightclub singer passing for white in 1936 London. After a murder rocks the nightclub, Lena decides to take her chances aboard the RMS Queen Mary bound for New York. Yet another murder awaits her onboard.

If You Enjoy Strategy and Building Games Like Catan, Try:

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey book cover

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Ok, stay with me on this one. While strategy and building games like The Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Carcassonne don’t necessarily take place in outer space (like this epic book by James S.A. Corey), they do involve expanding empires and vying for power. Think the game Terraforming Mars, too, if we want another, more spacey example. In the future, humanity has colonized the Moon, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt. Tensions are high as Earthers, Martians, and Belters clash over power and resources. As the series progresses, humanity begins expanding settlements further into space in a very Catan-like fashion. After reading, check out the show adaptation on Amazon, too, called The Expanse!

If You Enjoy Foodie Games Like Sushi Go!, Try:

Cook Korean cover

Cook Korean! A Comic Book With Recipes by Robin Ha

Foodie games like Sushi Go! and Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza promise lots of silly fun with the added bonus of delicious food pictures to feast your eyes upon. This delightful graphic novel cookbook by Robin Ha offers gorgeous illustrations to keep those food party feelings going. From an illustrated guide to a Korean pantry to chapters covering different core dishes in Korean cuisine, this book offers delicious recipes in a fun format. Plus, it includes sweet stories from Ha’s personal cooking adventures.

If You Enjoy Scary Games Like Betrayal At House On the Hill, Try:

cover of The Hacienda by Isabel Canas

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Now I’m usually one to shy away from all things scary, but if you haven’t played Betrayal At House On the Hill yet, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s one of my sister-in-law and my favorite board games. As the game involves building a haunted house and characters exploring it, this eerie new book by Isabel Cañas makes for the perfect atmospheric horror to read after playing. Between the overthrow of the Mexican government, her father’s execution, and losing her home, Beatriz finds herself drawn to the charismatic Don Rodolfo Solórzano and the safety he offers when he proposes to her. When she arrives at Hacienda San Isidro, though, Beatriz will find that something doesn’t feel quite right.

If You Enjoy Role-Playing Games Like Dungeons and Dragons, Try:

the cover of Nimona

Nimona by ND Stevenson

I have always wanted to dabble in the world of Dungeons and Dragons, and this witty and emotional queer graphic novel by ND Stevenson promises lots of those D&D campaign vibes. Follow the adventures of shapeshifter Nimona and the vengeful villain Lord Ballister Blackheart as they band together to prove to the kingdom that the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics are not the heroes they claim to be.

If You Enjoy Word Games Like Scrabble, Try:

The Queen of Tiles cover

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

In this day and age of Wordle, I know there are plenty of word game fans out there. In between playing Scrabble, Bananagrams, or Boggle, check out this charming new book by Hanna Alkaf. Still mourning the unexpected death of her best friend, Trina, Najwa Bakri hopes that getting back into the Scrabble tournament she loves will help her begin to heal. Trina used to be the tournament’s reigning champion though, and now others are trying to take that title for themselves. On top of that, Trina’s inactive Instagram account begins posting mysterious messages.

If You Enjoy Games of Chance Like Yahtzee, Try:

Jackpot Book Cover

Jackpot by Nic Stone

This book by Nic Stone promises high-stakes adventure and cute romantic banter between the two lead characters. As it focuses upon the hunt for a winning lottery ticket, it makes a great read for fans of games of chance like Yahtzee and Dominoes. High school senior Rico works hard at her cashier job to help support her single mom and little brother. When she hears the shocking news that the winning lottery ticket was sold at her gas station, she teams up with her rich and popular classmate Zan to find the missing ticket.

Before You Go…

When you’re not in the midst of board gaming, I hope these books give you lots of board game vibes! Looking for more bookish board game content? I’ve got you covered below.