Board Games and Books

As much as I love books and reading, I also love board and card games. I can spend hours playing games like Ticket to Ride or Code Names. I recently came across an amazing game that combines my love of games and books and if you are a book lover who enjoys a good game, I strongly recommend Ex Libris.


In Ex Libris you are a library gnome competing to create the best library to become the new librarian. The game is 1-4 players. I’ve yet to try the solo mode, so I can’t say anything about the quality of it. The objective of the game is to create your library shelves. In order to do so you will have a few book types to focus on. You’ll want to avoid banned books, gain extra points for having a lot of prominent works, and you’ll also have your own specialty category to focus on. These categories are chosen randomly from the cards, so the cards change each time for these areas. In total there are 6 types of books. You have to shelve your books in alphabetical and numerical order.

Besides the adorable library theme, this game is one you can play often without getting bored. It’s also a worker placement game with something like 17 places you can go to drawn randomly from the deck, so your options come in a different order each game and some of them will never appear. Plus there are quite a few character cards to choose from, each with their own special ability, which changes your tactic each game. The first play through I felt like I was juggling a lot between banned books, prominent works, my own specialty, and figuring out when and how to shelve books, but after the first play through it is easy. I’ve played this game with people who typically only play family games as well as people who have played more hardcore games and everyone has enjoyed it.

Ex Libris is one of my favorite games and I never get bored during it. Part of the cute design includes books on each card with titles you can read, all starting with the letter of the card. The titles are hilarious and a fun diversion when you are waiting for others to play. There are something like 150 books in the game, but cards have multiple books on them and categories. One of my favorite memorable book titles so far is “When Draculas Attackula.” The scorecard is also reusable, which is really nice since there are so many aspects to take into account when adding up points.

An example of a game from the maker. You can see the board up top, the score card to the right, locations you can visit on and below the board, as well as three library shelves being created with character cards beneath them.

As you can see from the example photo, library shelves can only be three vertical rows. They can be as long horizontally as you want, but there are rules to how and where you can place cards. For instance a card has to be beside or directly above or below a previously shelved card, not diagonal. Sometimes you realize you shelved some cards too early and you got letters or cards that fall between them that now can’t be placed in order, which means if you still shelve them then at the end of the game they must be turned over and you get no points for their categories. You also want to create a rectangle, because each card in your biggest rectangle gets you an extra point each. The game is over when any player shelves a certain number of cards, depending on how many players are playing.

Definitely a fun game! I’m curious to know if any other book lovers are as addicted to this game as much I am.


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