Three Games for Book Lovers to Play on Dewey Decimal System Day

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Lore Masters is our show that explores the passion between worlds with host Ryan Green as he guides us through the histories and fandoms of all the biggest geek properties, along with creators and enthusiasts. Airing every Thursday on Alpha and Twitch, yesterday’s show was all about Christopher Pike books, and next week Ryan will be will be exploring Tolkien lore with guest Jason Charles Miller.  It’s perfect timing since both episodes effectively bookend Dewey Decimal System Day – a day where librarians and book lovers celebrate the system by remembering its creator, Melvil Dewey. Born on December 10th in 1851, Dewey is known as the architect of the most influential organizational system for libraries, helping libraries maintain a sense of order as the years pass. 

In recognizing Dewey Decimal System Day, we thought it perfectly thematic to pull out our book-themed games.  These three titles are perfect for bibliophiles can play at home or at their favorite library.

Bring Your Own Book

If you’ve played Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, then you’re familiar with the basic gist of Bring Your Own Book (BYOB): each round one player acts as judge and reveals the prompt card while the other players play a word, phrase, or sentence related to the prompt. There’s one big difference, though, that sets BYOB apart: there are no answer cards! Players use their books to find words, phrases, or sentences that best suit the prompt. With only 60 seconds each round there isn’t much time to find the perfect submission, even if you’ve practically memorized your book.

You can try to be serious, funny, literal, bizarre, or meta with your answers; it depends on the judge and what they deem is acceptable. After your allotted time is up, you and your opponents read your selections then the judge announces their winner for the round.

It’s a blast searching The Great Gatsby for an answer to “Words tattooed on someone’s body” or Fifty Shades of Grey for a response to “The slogan on a bumper sticker.” Gamers and non-gamers alike will be talking about BYOB long after playing.


Casual gamers who love books will love Biblios, too, since it takes the basic structure of the classic For Sale, adds new elements and infuses a book-related theme to it.  Like For Sale, Biblios has two phases, each consisting of several rounds. During the first phase, players draw cards, one at a time, placing them into their hand, face-up for their opponents, or face-down for the auction in phase two.

After the deck is exhausted, the second (auction) phase begins. The cards placed here from the first phase are purchased with the cards in your hand. For example, if you’re looking to gain the edge in blue-colored books and a blue card shows up, you may bid as high as you can afford. If you win, you’ll add it to your hand.

Biblios has a neat economic mechanism that sets it apart from For Sale: whenever a church card appears, the active player must follow its instructions to change the market value of one book category. After all of the cards have been sold off, the game ends and players count up their points. For each book category, the player with the most of those particular books will claim the die that’s on the scoring track. Most points is the greatest “tome raider” of them all.

Ex Libris

Ex Libris is for the more serious gamer, but its smooth and intuitive play will appeal to new gamers as well. You’re a collector of rare books in this worker placement game that includes set collection, individual player powers, and puzzle-solving as you try to find space on your shelves for all of your valuable acquisitions.

On your turn, you’ll place one of your workers on a board and perform the action. These will give you cards for your hand, the ability to play the card onto your shelves, and other actions. Placing books onto your shelves requires a keen eye due to the adjacency rules: books must be placed in alphabetical order and for those books with the same letter, they must be shelved in numerical order. Melvil Dewey would be proud!

Best of all, after a game of Ex Libris, you’ll have shelves full of cleverly crafted books. Hilarious titles like “Swords and Other Sharp Objects” and “Dungeon Decorating for Dummies” are amusing touches and welcome nods to us bibliophiles.

What are your favorite book-related games? Tell us in the comments! 

Looking for more games for book-lovers?

Image Credits: Ruel Gaviola

Ruel Gaviola is a writer and educator based in Southern California. He loves board games, books, cooking, traveling, date nights with his wife, and Star Wars. He reviews games and reports news for and his name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. Follow him on  Twitter.

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