Bring Your Own Book from Do Better Games adds a new level of highbrow to the gaming table along with a stack of fun that will bring players back again and again. As the name of the game states, each player must come armed with a book of his or her choosing, which players use to race to come up with the funniest, wildest, or most thought-provoking response to on-card prompts.
From one’s first glance, the packaging and art are testament to the classiness and fun in Bring Your Own Book. The bookshelf-worthy box includes a ribbon, usually used in texts for keeping pages marked, but here used ingeniously to keep the many cards in place upon the plastic divider. The card backs are filled with intricate designs straight out of early art deco, an elegant time for parlor chitchat.
The gameplay in Bring Your Own Book, however, is no mere chitchat.
For its Classic Rules set, players ready their books and prepare the timer. One player acts as judge and draws a card from the deck, chooses between the two prompts, and then announces it to the others: “The name of a television sitcom” or “A curious footnote on a tax form” or even “Part of a piece of email spam.” Players then flip through their books to select a clever turn of phrase. The first player to find it flips the timer, slapping a deadline onto the rest. When the timer is up, everyone reads their selections, and the judging player picks the best. The game continues until one player wins by collecting four or five cards, depending on the number of players.
The Classic Rules are solid, but Bring Your Own Book goes the extra three miles by including variant rules. In the two-player cooperative Flipside Rules, one player searches for comical selections while the other searches for thematically dark phrases, both from the same prompt. Cutthroat Rules have those who are unable find a suitable phrase when the timer runs out serve as judges of those who did. Perhaps most fun are the Democratic Rules where, instead of looking to appease one judge, the reader with the most votes wins the card.
In many of the rules, players will swap books, adding a new flurry to the search as players work not only to find a good phrase but also to avoid repeating what someone else has already said. With 96 cards featuring 192 different prompts, it will be some time before a player circles back to a previous category.
Bring Your Own Book is a party game for two to eight players aged 12 and up. It is a must-play for book-lovers of all ages. Players will have an advantage if they use a favorite book they can practically quote, whether it is Alice in Wonderland or Gone with the Wind. If a group shares the same favorites, like the Harry Potter series, the responses will have an even bolder degree of mirth or chills. And, with just about any book fair game, no two games of Bring Your Own Book will be the same.