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The Best Books for Gamers

These days, it’s not hard to find a good place to buy books and/or video games. And luckily, these two forms of entertainment tend to go together really well. In this article we’ll take a look at the 10 best books for gamers, from detailed books on game development to coffee table art books and everything in-between.

The books featured in this list are not ranked in any particular order. We’ve also tried to include a wide range of books, including a bit of fiction and some more technically helpful books. There’s also a short list of books at the end that don’t quite make the main list since they’re a bit too niche or specific, so check those out too if you have any particular games you’d like to buy for!

Speedrun Science: A Long Guide to Short Playthroughs

The definitive book for speedrunners

Speedrun Science Book
(Image: Fangamer / Goodreads via HGG)
  • Author: Eric Koziel
  • Where to Purchase: Buy at Fangamer.

Speedrun Science is the best book for gamers interested in speedrunning. If you’re not already familiar, speedrunning simply refers to trying to finish a video game as fast as possible. There is a very competitive (and also a casual) community of speedrunners, with several large marathon events each year which showcase a variety of games.

This book is great for people interested in actually speedrunning games, or just those who enjoy watching them. In Speedrun Science, you’ll find a ton of valuable information on how to get started speedrunning, its history, and the more technical stuff needed for submitting your own runs to a website like speedrun.com. Everything from the mindset needed to speedrun all the way to the various forms of hardware and software needed is covered. It also has some really great visuals that both give valuable information and add artistic flair. The whole book has a pleasant orange and black, simple aesthetic that the illustrators do a great job with.

For people interested in speedrunning in any capacity, this is a perfect book.

Replay: The History of Video Games

A detailed, global history of gaming

Replay The History of Video Games
(Image: Yellow Ant / Amazon via HGG)
  • Author: Tristan Donovan
  • Where to Purchase: Amazon

Replay is one of the best books about the worldwide history of video games. It provides a deep dive into how the gaming craze went from small scale to every inch of the world, and gives more attention to areas of the world often overlooked in these kinds of books. Donovan’s book isn’t trying to be flashy or anything like that, but it does offer a much more thorough history of video games than most others. It’s a book for historians, not just anyone who might have a passing interest in games. Therefore, don’t go into this expecting to be dazzled. It’s more factual than it is exciting, but that’s not a bad thing.

Replay is a go-to book for gamers that love to sit down and really learn about gaming history. It might not be the right book for everyone, but if you want to learn a lot, it’s the way to go!

Dungeons & Dragons: 5th Edition Player’s Handbook

The go-to book for D&D players

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Player's Handbook
(Image: Wizards of the Coast / Amazon via HGG)
  • Authors: James Wyatt, Robert J. Schwalb, and Bruce R. Cordell
  • Where to Purchase: Amazon

The D&D 5th Edition Handbook kind of sells itself. If you’re interested in D&D at all and don’t already own this book, there’s nowhere better to start. In the 5th Edition Players Handbook, you’ll find information on how to play D&D, how to create your character, abilities, combat, and more! There are also some handy character sheets you can use to make your first character(s).

If you or the person you’re buying for already have the D&D 5e Handbook, there are a ton of other D&D books you can check out. More experienced players would be better off with one of the various campaign books or books that cover more niche content. Newer players who already own the Handbook would benefit from either the Monster Manual or Dungeon Master’s Guide, both of which are geared at beginner players and pair nicely with the Handbook.

Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy game, so obviously there are tons of supplemental and companion materials that go along with it. You can find fiction novels, campaign books, art books, and almost anything else you can imagine.

The Ultimate History of Video Games

A fantastic telling of early video game history

The Ultimate History of Video Games
(Image: Crown / Amazon via HGG)
  • Author: Steven L. Kent
  • Where to Purchase: Amazon

Calling anything an “ultimate” history is a bold endeavor, but it often pays off. The Ultimate History of Video Games is focused more on the early history of video games, but does give some attention to later events as well. Kent gives an interesting look into how the video game industry grew from simple pinball-style games to modern open world masterpieces, focusing mostly on the earlier stuff (pre-NES).

This book relies heavily on quotes from relevant individuals in the gaming industry, but follows a fairly standard format for historical books. He begins with how innovations in the world of pinball during the first half of the 1900s spurred what would eventually become the modern gaming industry. His focus on the really early history of modern gaming makes the book stand out, especially for those interested in gaming history outside of just video games. If you’re interested in video game history from the very beginning to around 1990, this is a great book to check out.

The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect

A perfect art book for gamers

The Art of Video Games
(Image: Welcome Books / Amazon via HGG)
  • Authors: Chris Melissinos and Patrick O’Rourke
  • Where to Purchase: Amazon

The Art of Video Games is an art book with a bit of accompanying information about the art itself. There isn’t a ton in terms of information about the art, and reviewers make it clear that this isn’t necessarily a book for learning. It’s better suited as a book to look through if you’re nostalgic for the games represented or just appreciate video game art in general. It’s also a book that anyone could look through and enjoy, whether they know anything about gaming or not.

Art books have a lot of value to people who love games, as the art is often a major reason why they love those games. This book features some of the best and most innovative art throughout gaming history, with enough information to make it worth more than just its visuals. It’s also worth noting that this book is based on an art exhibit from around 2010-11. It was designed by Chris Melissinos and presented at the Smithsonian Museum, so it’s a great way to experience that even though the actual exhibit is gone.

GAMEDEV: 10 Steps to Making Your First Game Successful

A great book for those getting into game development

Gamedev 10 Steps to Making Your First Game Successful
(Image: Unfold Publishing / Amazon via HGG)
  • Author: Wlad Marhulets
  • Where to Purchase: Amazon

This is a book for a specific kind of gamer–one who wants to actually make their own games. GAMEDEV is a highly-reviewed book written by a successful indie game developer, aimed at everyone from beginners to advanced programmers. One area in which this book is noted as being even better than the mountain of other game design books is its focus on the business aspects of game development. You’ll find chapters on everything from how to get funding for your game to what to do after your game launches. It’s a comprehensive guide that really dives deep into every corner of game development.

If you just want technical details on how to program a video game, there might be better options. There are many, many books on how to code and other highly specific areas that are relevant to game design, but this is a great place to start. For the gamer that wants to do more than just play games, GAMEDEV is certainly a great book to check out.

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture

The story of two men who changed gaming forever

Masters of Doom
(Image: Random House / Amazon via HGG)
  • Author: David Kushner
  • Where to Purchase: Amazon

If you’re interested in Doom, Quake, or any other computer games from the 1990s (and onwards), this is a great read. Masters of Doom tells the story of John Carmack and John Romero, who co-created the titular Doom. Kushner focuses on telling the authentic story of how many of id Software’s games from the time were created, with more emphasis on the people behind them than the technical stuff. He also talks about the culture surrounding gaming at the time. The games created by id Software were massively popular in the 1990s due to their shocking, violent nature, and not everyone was ready for that yet. Obviously there was a ton of controversy surrounding violent games like Doom, and this book gives insight into the people at the center of the storm.

Masters of Doom can be appreciated by anyone, but it’ll appeal most to gamers interested in 90s PC gaming. Or for gamers who lived through the 1990s and remember all the controversy surrounding the industry at the time. It’s an interesting look at a specific time in gaming that probably won’t ever be replicated again, centered around two people who saw it all in real time.

The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures

A unique compilation for old school graphic adventure fans

The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures
(Image: Amazon via HGG)
  • Editor/Compiler: Kurt Kalata
  • Where to Purchase: Amazon

From Hardcoregaming101.net, this is one of the more unique books on this list. Instead of consisting of work put together by one author, The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures is more of an index of classic adventure games than anything else. For each game, you’ll get a rundown of the story/plot, any notable game features, and historical facts about the games and how they influenced the genre. It’s a massive compendium of reviews for old school adventure games, from the most popular to the most obscure. It is a long read, though, at over 700 pages. Some reviewers have noted that they read through the whole thing and enjoyed it, but you don’t have to. You can read just the games that appeal to you, or dive into the whole genre.

Classic Graphic Adventures is one of several compilations by retro gaming website, Hardcoregaming101.net. If you aren’t a fan of classic graphic adventures from the 1980s to around the 2000s, this book probably won’t do much for you. It does have a wealth of valuable information if you’re interested in the genre, though, which is exactly what it’s meant for.

Halo: The Fall of Reach

One of the best video game novels of all time

Halo The Fall of Reach
(Image: Gallery Books / Amazon via HGG)
  • Author: Eric Nylund
  • Where to Purchase: Amazon

We haven’t recommended much fiction here, but this one is a classic. While it might not be for everyone, The Fall of Reach is the perfect book for any fiction-loving Halo fans you know. It released shortly before the first Halo game in 2001, and it tells the origin story of Master Chief (the series’ protagonist). Master Chief has been established as one of the most iconic gaming icons of all time, and going back to his origin story in this form is just as exciting as ever.

Not all video game novels are good quality, but this one stands out. Eric Nylund’s work in the Halo universe has been widely acclaimed, and all of the Halo novels he’s written have received great reviews on multiple websites. The Fall of Reach brings to life a story that is integral to the Halo universe, and it remains a relevant piece of the overall story to this day. If you or someone you know loves Halo, this is the definitive novel to check out.

Various Video Game Cookbooks

Fun books for fans of specific games (especially if they like to cook)

Destiny The Official Cookbook
(Image: Insight Editions / Amazon via HGG)
  • Authors: see individual books
  • Where to Purchase: see individual books

This isn’t a single entry, but a group of books. For the last several years, it’s been a trend to release cookbooks themed after popular video games. And while these cookbooks are largely a novelty meant for gamers, they also include legitimate recipes. Reviewers widely praise the recipes found in these cookbooks, which might not be expected from a product like this (each book’s quality will vary, so make sure and check reviews beforehand). These are perfect for gamers who love to cook, or for people who just want to look through the books. From Skyrim sweet rolls to Minecraft’s suspicious stew, you’ll find a ton of interesting recipes that might actually be better than their video game counterparts.

There are many of these books from different publishers, but here’s a list of some of the more popular:

  • Minecraft: Gather, Cook, Eat! Official Cookbook
  • Fallout: The Vault Dweller’s Official Cookbook
  • Destiny: The Official Cookbook
  • Assassin’s Creed: The Culinary Codex
  • Halo: The Official Cookbook
  • The Elder Scrolls: The Official Cookbook

If you have a specific game in mind that you don’t see on this list, just search it up! There are a lot of these cookbooks coming out all the time, so there’s one for everybody.

Bonus Picks

Celeste Piano Collections – for the person who loves Celeste and piano, there’s nothing better. If only everyone knew how to play piano, because this would have definitely made the main list if so.

Destiny Grimoire Volumes – a collection of texts on the lore of Destiny. These provide what is essentially an in-depth look into the in-game lore books, along with beautiful artwork and high-quality binding. There are several volumes, with more releasing each year.

The Legend of Zelda Encyclopedia – a full encyclopedia of everything there is to know about The Legend of Zelda. Just remember that this released in 2018, so it won’t include any information from Tears of the Kingdom.

The Art of Cuphead – an in-depth look at the process of creating Cuphead’s art. If you’re familiar with Cuphead at all, you’ll know that it has some of the best art from any recent game (maybe any game ever). This book shows various characters and models in various stages of design, from beginning to end. It’s great for people interested in drawing or just people who appreciate this kind of art.

Strategy Guides – provide general and in-depth information about single games. Strategy guides used to be a lot more popular than they are now, but they’re still around. They’re more geared towards collectors these days, but they still provide just as much information in many cases.

 

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