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Book Review: EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM DUNGEONS & DRAGONS by Shelly Mazzanoble

Are the pages of the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook better to turn to than the pages of books in the self-help aisle? That’s more or less the question Shelly Mazzanoble tackles in Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons. This book isn’t the author’s first time discussing the subject of role-playing games. She wrote about the experience of learning to play D&D in Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress (read my review). While that volume offered insight and helpful guides on rolling up characters and diving into a campaign, this book doesn’t go into the nuts and bolts.

Dungeons & Dragons is referenced and the narrative heads to the gaming table, but it’s not the focus of the book. It’s about Mazzanoble’s self-exploration with a side of the game if that makes sense. For example, chapter two of the book focuses on religion. Mazzanoble relates her childhood trips to Sunday school and thinks about the current role of religion in her life. She decides to explore the spiritual through D&D by embracing the values of five different D&D gods – one on each weekday. Hilarity ensues and so does a bit of discovery.

Succeeding chapters follow the same approach. Life couched in D&D. Other topics covered include dating, baggage (not the tangible kind), children, etc. The mentions of the game seem to lessen as the pages go by.

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Does it succeed as a self-help book? Eh. A teensy bit. Mazzanoble’s observations might make you feel like doing some navel-gazing, but overall, it’s meant for entertainment. I could see being inspired to turn to your own stack of D&D books for real life applications, but don’t pick up Everything I Need to Know… with expectations of having big revelations about your existence or of gaining deep and mystical knowledge from rolling a D20.

Read this book for fun. Plain and simple.

Mazzanoble writes with humor and though there are jokes that don’t resonate with me because I don’t watch Real Housewives or read Cosmo, I was consistently amused. And before someone says it, no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Real Housewives or Cosmo. It’s just not my cuppa. Besides the lighthearted tone, Mazzanoble shares stories about dilemmas big and small that many people can relate to – I certainly connected to some of her conversations with her mother.

Have you read Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons? Head to the comments and share your opinion with me.

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