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Want your gamer child to read more? Get them these books!

Need to find a book for the gamer in your life? Look no further than this handy list of recommendations!

Video games are a wonderful way to tell stories and create memorable experiences; there’s nothing quite like a well-crafted yarn in a digital realm to capture your imagination. However, as much as I enjoy playing games, there is another past time I enjoy at the same level or more so than I enjoy video games: reading. While an excellent game narrative can transport you to fantastical worlds, there is nothing quite like reading an utterly captivating book and becoming lost in its world as your imagination brings it to life.

This is a list of books for the gamer in your life. Some are aimed more at children, and some will be aimed more at adults. However, gamers of all ages should be able to find something enjoyable here. Who knows? They might just become so enthralled in some of these tales they’ll forget about the games, for a short time anyway. 

This list is split in three: first, we'll look at books based on popular video game franchises; second, we'll look at books that inspired video games; third, we'll look at books that are not game-related but are likely to appeal to gamers.

Books based on video game series

Halo series

The Halo series is a science-fiction shooter series that has been running since 2001 with no signs of slowing down. Halo made waves for having a far-reaching and ambitious story as compared to most other shooters of its time. Given this emphasis on narrative in the series, book adaptations were inevitable. There are several entries in the series with only one book, Halo: The Flood, being an adaptation of a game’s story while the rest expand upon the Halo universe. Fans of the series will undoubtedly hungrily devour more information on their beloved Master Chief, and the struggles humanity face in this universe.

A Parent’s Take

The Halo series has been rated M for Mature, with the exception of the recent Halo 5: Guardians and the spin-off Halo Wars. The series is without major gore, and players only encounter mild profanities such as “damn.” In some books, there is some adult content like violence and some scattered strong profanity, but not an overabundance - and rarely more than the games do. I doubt the other books have much problematic content, but the ones we've reviewed were pretty much fine.

Notable Titles

Warcraft series

The Warcraft franchise has changed quite a bit over the years. What started as a strategy game evolved into an MMO juggernaut that has continually dwarfed the competition for over ten years. The games are known for their strong narratives and memorable characters that fans have grown to love over several games. The books for this franchise are unique compared to other game adaptations. One series follows the Warcraft strategy series while the other books deal with the ever-popular World of Warcraft. With nearly twenty novels, there are plenty of choices for Alliance and Horde alike.

A Parent’s Take

All of the games in the Warcraft universe are rated T. There is your typical fantasy violence, some mild cursing, and various minor offenses. Otherwise, expect some well-written fantasy narratives!

Notable Titles

There are countless other books based on games; far too many to mention here. For those interested, more exhaustive lists can be found here and here. Now onto our next category! 

Books that inspired games

The Witcher series

The Witcher is a series of action-role-playing games set on delivering a mature experience for older players. The third entry in the series launched in early 2015 to much acclaim. The games are based on a series of fantasy novels by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. With the release of the first The Witcher title, players outside of Poland clamored for a translation, which came not long after the game’s release. Any fans of the games or dark fantasy, in general, should find plenty to enjoy here.

A Parent’s Take

The Witcher games are rated M for good reason. Gore, mutilating monsters and humans alike, copious amounts of harsh language along with plenty of sexual innuendos, sexual situations, and even digital nudity await those who plunge into Geralt’s dark world. These games are most certainly not aimed at the kiddos. If your kid has played the games, don't expect much more to shock them as the books are aimed at the same older audiences as the games are.

Notable Titles
Metro 2033

Metro 2033 is a Russian post-apocalyptic novel that finds the remnants of humanity fighting for survival in the ruined metro (subway) tunnels underground after a nuclear war decimated the surface of Earth. Humans wage war against radiation, harsh environments, mutated monstrosities, fellow humans, and other impediments in this unforgiving world. 

An eponymous game based on the novel released in 2010 with a sequel that followed in 2013. The novel has since spawned an official sequel along with giving birth to a book franchise that the original author, Dmitry Glukhovsky, has overseen.

A Parent’s Take

Both of the Metro games are rated M. The games have some intense violence against human and inhuman enemies, plenty of language, and the last title, Metro: Last Light, even had some digital nudity. Like The Witcher, expect the books to be similar in content.

Notable Titles
Alamut

The Assassin’s Creed series has several inspirations, but this 1938 novel by Vladimir Bartol was possibly been one the biggest influences on the game. The plot follows Ibn Tahir, a young soldier who joins a garrison held by the Ismalis at a fortress named Alamut. The fortress is led by the charismatic Hassan, who may or may not be deceiving his troops to manipulate them. Tahir is sent to assassinate a vizier who reveals Hassan has been deceiving his troops (sound familiar yet?).  Tahir confronts his leader who reveals his life motto: “Nothing is an absolute reality, all is permitted.” Disillusioned Tahir is sent on a global odyssey while Hassan attempts to cultivate his power.

A Parent’s Take

Most of the games in the Assassin’s Creed franchise have been rated M, usually for violence, some vulgar language, and blood. As this novel was written in 1938, it doesn't have much that will shock young adult readers but the themes may be a bit much for some.

 

Books gamers will like (but are not directly related to gaming)

Artemis Fowl series

Artemis Fowl follows the exploits of Artemis Fowl, who just so happens to be a genius and world-renowned criminal at the age of twelve. Young Artemis discovers fairies do exist and seeks to capture one in order to obtain a lucrative ransom. What follows is a series of misadventures for readers young and old alike.

As the series goes on, the characters grow and experience major trauma. While the later entries weren’t quite as strong as the earlier ones, I wholeheartedly recommend this series to everyone. This is one of those rare series that may be aimed at younger audiences, but contains plenty of meaty content for older readers as well. I have read the entire series at least three times now, and I cannot wait until my daughter is old enough for me to share these with her.

A Parent’s Take

The series has plenty of action, though nothing ever gets bloody and characters rarely die. There is plenty of swearing in the fairy tongue (which can’t be translated due to how offensive the words are) and “damn” may be used twice over the entire series. There is some crude humor with one character’s abilities revolving around his flatulence, but it is never gross or over the top. There shouldn’t be too much here to find fault with.

Also, if you’re a fan of audiobooks, I cannot recommend these enough. The reader is one of the best I have ever heard and manages to do a distinct voice for each character on top of a great narration.

Notable Titles
The Old Kingdom series

Garth Nix may be more known to modern readers as the author of the Keys to the Kingdom series, but I want to shine a spotlight on his under appreciated The Old Kingdom series. The series follows a young girl named Sabriel, who goes looking for her father after receiving a strange message from one of his undead servants. Sabriel’s father is known as “Abhorsen,” a magician who fights necromancers and undead creatures in an attempt to keep peace in the kingdom. An old evil is manipulating events and threatens to awake, and it’s up to Sabriel and her talking, surly cat companion to find her father and stop the evil.

A Parent’s Take

While there is some fantasy violence, parents should note there are plenty of undead and other nightmarish creatures found within these pages. While nothing is too scary for younger readers, sensitive ones might find Nix’s descriptions of these creatures a tad much. Besides that, I cannot remember a single curse word or anything else to give parents pause. The series is also available in audiobook form as read by the always-terrific Tim Curry, which is an excellent listen.

Titles in the Series
The Bartimaeus Sequence

The Bartimaeus novels follow the exploits of magical apprentice Nathaniel and the five-thousand-year-old djinni Bartimaeus, whom Nathaniel summons to do his bidding. The first novel revolves around the unlikely duo perpetrating a petty theft that quickly evolves into a more serious threat than either could have anticipated.

The books are characterized by the witty banter of Bartimaeus and his relationship with the young and vain Nathaniel. Their bond evolves as the books progress and Nathaniel changes from an unlikable, haughty twerp to a person the reader can actually care about.

 A Parent’s Take

One of the cores of the Bartimaeus universe is summoning demons, afrits, and other magical beings to do one’s bidding. As such, there are lot of otherworldly beasties and nasties in the series. There is no adult language, and the violence is sporadic and rarely intense. There shouldn’t be too much here to keep younger ones away, and the books are excellent enough for older readers to enjoy as well.

Titles in the Series
Mistborn series

Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series launched with one hell of a debut set in a fully-realized world begging for more stories to be told. The books follow Vin, a thief who scrapes by in a crew of rowdy thieves. Vin comes to discover she has powers she can use by “burning” metal scrapings she ingests. Vin becomes involved in a plot to overthrow the oppressive dictatorship of The Lord Ruler, a seemingly omnipotent being who has been alive for hundreds of years.

The world is extremely fleshed out in the first book alone, and the themes of slavery and dictatorship in a high fantasy setting make for a different type fantasy novel. This one also has a great audiobook reader.

A Parent’s Take

I have only read the first title in the series, but there was not a lot of content I would say warrants a warning flag. The biggest thing may be the themes of slavery, oppression, government, and evil the novel presents. There is also a sizeable cast of characters and things to keep up with; the series might be better suited for older readers.

Notable Titles
The works of R. A. Salvatore

Few modern fantasy authors have had the success or popularity of Mr. Salvatore. Salvatore is most known for his works set in the Forgotten Realms universe, which is from the world of Dungeons and Dragons, and the character Drizzt Do’Urden. Salvatore has fourteen series set in the Forgotten Realms universe alone, not counting his other series or other works. Needless to say, most fans of fantasy games will probably enjoy something Salvatore has written.

A Parent’s Take

The titles are all appropriate for most ages, as long as you are ok with a bit of violence and some beasties straight out of D&D's Monster Manual. There is very rare profanity or sexual content and most of the titles are about overcoming various obstacles such as bandits and ice dragons in order to reach goals. There is some fantasy violence, but nothing grotesque or gory.

Notable Titles
Works by John Scalzi

John Scalzi burst onto the scene with Old Man’s War, an excellent sci-fi tale of an army that only recruits from the older population of Earth. While he has continued the series, he has written several other books that are just as good as his debut novel.

Scalzi’s novels are usually filled with smart-aleck characters, witty dialogue, and imaginative narrative cores. Doubtless, most people reading this have read one of his books or heard of him by now. If you haven’t, I highly recommend checking some of his works out.

A Parent’s Take

I have thoroughly enjoyed most of Scalzi’s books I have read, but I must caution parents - These books are aimed at older readers. There is enough profanity here to fill a Quentin Tarantino movie, plenty of blood, guts, and detailed dismemberments, on top of some sexual situations and issues only older readers can relate to. That said, if you can get past these issues, you’ll find some great books for your teen's collection.

Notable Titles
The Dresden Files

Harry Dresden is a wizard-for-hire practicing in modern-day Chicago. Needless to say, he leads an interesting life. The Dresden series is essentially a neo-noir saga following a down-on-his-luck wizard in lieu of a gumshoe. While the trappings and archetypes of noir pervade the books, the focus on a wizard in modern times and Jim Butcher’s take on magic keeps things fresh.

There are also plenty of interesting characters, including wise-cracking femme fatales, trolls, fairies, vampires, and countless other magical beings. There are over 15 novels in the series, and each can serve as a jumping on point thanks to Butcher reiterating some major concepts for newer readers without becoming annoying for veteran readers.

A Parent’s Take

Like any good noir, there are crimes aplenty in the world of Harry Dresden. Besides the crimes, there is a fair amount of language and a good deal of violence. There are also some nasty denizens of magic floating about that might be a bit scary for the younger ones. I recommend this one for the older kids.

Notable Titles
Star Wars

The Star Wars franchise has been running strong ever since the release of A New Hope in 1977. The franchise has become one of the most beloved in nerd and mainstream culture. With the release of Episode VII: The Force Awakens looming ever closer on the horizon, a new generation will grow up with Jedis, Sith, and the Force.

With the massive success of the franchise, it should come as no surprise there are a plethora of books. Seriously. There are a ton of books in the series as you can see by looking here. Just take your pick for the gamer in your life.

A Parent’s Take

With rare exception, expect these books to match up with the content of the films: essentially, a great deal of sci-fi action, heroic journeys, and coming of age stories in a galaxy far, far away - but nothing that would keep the younglings at bay.

Notable Titles

Just scroll down this list and take your pick.

 

Obviously, there are countless other books gamers might find enticing. This is just scratching the surface on the wonderful world of books. If you have any favorites you would like to share, please do so in the comments below!

Published Dec. 7th 2015
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Associate Editor
    Ready Player One is definitely worth a read! And the language isn't too hard for young ones.
  • The Soapbox Lord
    Featured Contributor
    The book was littered with f-words, $#it, and plenty of other foul language.
    A decent read for those of us who grew up in the culture the book was aimed at, but the book was definitely not for young ones.
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Associate Editor
    I don't remember that at all... but then I have for a long time used foul language, so I guess I just don't notice it. But yes, fair enough... maybe not the best for kids then.
  • Ainyan
    Correspondent
    Rick Riordan, Anne McCaffery, Mercedes Lackey, John Flannigan, Gail Carriger, Raymond E. Feist (whose books are responsible for the Betrayal at Krondor series!)

    There's so many excellent young adult books out there that gaming kids would - and do - love!
  • The Soapbox Lord
    Featured Contributor
    I knew I had forgotten about someone!
    Thanks for mentioning Raymond Feist!
  • Jay Ricciardi
    Contributor
    Excellent list! I loved Sabriel and Artemis Fowl as a nerdy young'n (didn't realize AF got so many books!), and I've got a few more suggestions to throw in here from my own gamer/nerd childhood. All of these would fall under 'books gamers will enjoy' and don't have anything directly to do with video games:

    Terry Pratchett's Discworld series - Any will do, they're all amazing! I suggest starting with Guards! Guards! or Hogfather. Imagine Monty Python writing Tolkien.

    Philip Pullman's Golden Compass (et al) - Can't say enough good things about the series and it still holds up as an almost entirely unique steampunk fiction. Just, please, avoid the movie.

    Basically anything by Tamora Pierce - Excellent female protagonists and great YA fantasy fiction.

    Anything by Diana Wynne Jones - I highly recommend Dark Lord of Derkholm, which basically explores 'what if a fantasy world had a highly exploitative tourism industry?' Amazing.

    Most of Robin McKinley - Some might consider her books to have some 'adult' themes (there are some abused female protagonists), but any nerd in or past puberty should pretty much have to read Deerskin. Also, Sunshine is basically the only Blade/Buffy-inspired YA vampire novel (no sparkly vampires, just a lot of butt-kicking).

    Patricia Wrede's 'Dragons' series - Start with Dealing with Dragons, ignore the cutesy book covers - it's some dang iconic YA fantasy.

    And geez, that's all I can remember right now, but I'll have to dust off my old books whenever I visit my parents and add some more!
  • The Soapbox Lord
    Featured Contributor
    The Fowl series is worth finishing!

    I still need to read Pratchett's works. -_-

    I tried reading Golden Compass when I was younger. Like Harry potter, I couldn't get into it for some reason. I've been meaning to revisit them both.

    I'll have to check out the rest of these. I've never heard of these.

    Thanks!

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