10 Literary Board Games for Book Nerds


When it’s cold outside, book nerds tend to hibernate with their novels. But what about a bookish activity that’s also social (and indoors)? This week, the Paris Review pointed us towards Pride and Prejudice: The Board Game, which seems like just the ticket — if you’re a Jane Austen fan. However, what to do if you’re more of a Twainish persuasion? Never fear — after the jump, we’ve collected a whole selection of board games based on novels, from fantasy to the classics, for your perusal. Which one looks the most fun? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Pride and Prejudice: The Board Game

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the best kind of board games are literary board games. Pick a couple (you can even be Lydia and Wickham, if you must) and get them to the Parish Church! Whoever dodges the most pitfalls and gets married first wins.

Photo Credit: Board Game Geek

1984: Animal Farm

“All Animal Comrades believe that 1984 was a great year for the Animal Farm – at least the Ministry of Truth claims so…” Er, this game can’t seem to make up its Orwellian mind. Published last year by a Polish gaming company, this bizarre board game requires sly negotiations, bluffing, alliances, secret talks and epic betrayals. Sounds pretty dystopian to us, whichever way you slice it.

Photo Credit: Board Game Geek

The Little Prince Protects His Planet

We don’t think board games get any more twee than this. Help the Little Prince protect his planet from Baobab Tree saplings, which will prevent all the pretty flowers from blossoming! Obviously, this is a French game.

Photo Credit: Board Game Geek

Moby-Dick: The Game of the White Whale

Try to catch the whales (and get the best price for your whaling tools) in this bizarre little 1962 German board game. Sometimes the white whale — uncatchable — will appear, but you can still earn a gold doubloon for wounding it. Also it is unlikely to claim any of your body parts.

Photo Credit: Board Game Geek

The Name of the Rose

In this game, based on Umberto Eco’s historical murder mystery, players are monks trying to collect “suspicion points” to figure out the identity of the criminal. Luckily, the monks tend to keep on doing randomly suspicious things all the time. Bluffing, and shifty looks from under hoods, required.

Beowulf: The Legend

Here’s the thing: no one gets to be Beowulf. Sure, you’ll fight Grendel, and return to Geatland, and then you’ll watch the hero die against a dragon. Everyone is just a merry member of Beowulf’s band, looking to succeed him as king in the end. Which makes sense, we guess. Just keep those misfortune tokens away from us.

Photo Credit: Board Game Geek


For those obsessed with Frank Herbert’s sandy universe, you’re in luck. In this negotiation-based game, you’ll hunt for spice, battle other players’ armies and giant sandworms, and fight the elements along with the best of them, while trying to secure the lion’s share of the territory for yourself.

Photo Credit: Ash Grove Press

A Christmas Carol

In this trivia/simple board game combination, you can choose to be one of the characters from Dickens’s classic novel, and race to the center of the board. Perhaps you can have some major life realizations along the way.

Photo Credit: Board Game Geek

Don Quijote de la Mancha

According to its creators, this game’s purposes are twofold: 1. Bringing the work of Miguel de Cervantes to the people through fun; 2. Promote the lands of Castilla La Mancha. Well, sure. There are two sides: Don Quixote, Sancho Panza and their valiant knights, trying to make their journey unhindered, and the miscreants, who must attempt to, well, hinder them. Choose your team wisely.

Photo Credit: Board Game Geek

The Shining

In this creepy game, one player controls the Overlook Hotel, and the other the Torrence family, each trying to destroy — or at least best — the other. Unlike most of the games on this list, this one was created with the support of the original author, and in fact Stephen King was one of its first play-testers. You can download it here.