“In a good book the best is between the lines”. Bring Your Own Book is a social game/activity in which the lines in any given book become fuel for thought, laughs, and conversation. For three or more players,the game can act as a center point for a party, an icebreaker for a meeting, or a transition into a relaxed social session for a game night.
Bring Your Own Book presents you with a prompt much like Apples to Apples (and related games like Cards Against Humanity or Say Anything). A prompt might be a fill-in-the-blank statement or just a general question. For example, “The meaning of life is…” or “The name of a popular new indie band”.
The group is tasked with answering the prompt in a way that would appeal to the “picker” (the person who reads the prompt). Instead of a deck or hand of cards to fuel your answer to the prompt, the players are asked to bring their own book to the game—wait, is that where they got the name for this game? Sarcasm. Your “book” could be anything with a larger body of text; I’ve played with people using newspapers, cookbooks, D&D manuals, philosophy textbooks, New York Times bestsellers, magazines, and children’s books. The group takes on their roles as “seekers” and dive into their books nose first. Seekers are looking for a single word, phrase, sentence, or a sequence of sentences that might fit the prompt. When someone finds something interesting they announce “I’ve got it!” and turn over the one-minute sand timer. Once the timer is out the group goes around the table reading their response. Those that didn’t find an answer to the prompt before time ran out are forced to turn to a random page, blindly point at the text, and read that selection as their answer.
In the traditional rules, the “picker” is also the “judge” and decides which answer deserves to win by giving that player the prompt card to mark their point. The first person with 4 points (5+ player game) wins.
Bring Your Own Book is one of those games that’s simple but also genius in its simplicity. This game becomes more of a social experiment than a competition with the right group of players. I love that I can ask my friends to bring over their favorite book to play this game. Not only do I get to learn more about them, we get to talk shop about some of their reading interests and exchange book recommendations. I can imagine playing this game as an icebreaker at a book club and using each prompt to start a conversation about the text. I also see using this game as an “explore the library” exercise—perhaps merging the gameplay with finding different types of books and navigating the library shelves.
It’s clear that any book lover would adore this game, but what might not be as clear is the appeal Bring Your Own Book has to all sorts of people, bookworms not withstanding. If you casually browse a magazine now and then, love graphic novels, are a student with stacks of textbooks, or grandma with a huge collection of cookbooks—you will find something to enjoy about this game.
The physical game itself isn’t much, just a deck of 100 cards and a sand timer. The cards are nice quality and the sand timer is a sand timer (not much to say there). The box for the game has a nice magnetic lid and the design of the box makes it look like a real book on your game shelf—a nice touch. Each card has two prompts on it, doubling the replay value. The game creators also have downloadable “print-and-play” templates that can be used to customize your experience and expand the replay value of the game.
Next time you get invited to a get-together with a suggested “BYOB”, make sure you are prepared with your favorite beverage AND a book—you never know what fun might be in-store.