Videogames get a bad rep as pure escapism or juvenile brain-rotters, but ask any gamer and they’ll tell you: nothing could be farther from the truth. Games are an artform, sci-fi is hot, and, let’s face it, the geekdom is having a moment. So gamers everywhere, unite, and dive into our list of books curated especially for you. And if you haven’t yet been inducted into the fellowship of all things geeky, nerdy, and generally awesome, pick up one of these nine titles to get your journey started. If you’ve been waiting for the geeks to inherit the earth, wait no longer. Welcome to the future.
Armada by Ernest Cline
Zack Lightman’s gaming skills pay off when an alien invasion just like the one in his favorite video game threatens the earth. It’s not long before Zack and his fellow gamers are swept up in the exhilaration of playing the hero. But as he battles flying saucers and uncovers governmental conspiracies, one little detail nags at him: isn’t this plot a little… familiar? Subversive and wickedly fun, Armada is a pop-culture saturated thriller about the power of the geek.
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
Part-time actress, part-time Internet-mogul, and full-time Queen of the Geeks Felicia Day tells her quirkily inspirational story in her hugely anticipated first book You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). From homeschooled childhood to Hollywood misadventures to Internet stardom, Felicia’s been through it all and wants you to know that with bravery and individualism, anything is possible now–even for a digital misfit.
Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture by Stephen H. Segal
Editor Stephen H. Segal has compiled the ultimate geek gospel with this collection of quotes by everyone from Asimov to Yoda paired with short musings from a dedicated team of hardcore geeks. Whether you’re well-versed in the worlds of sci-fi, superheroes, videogames, and the like or you’re a first-timer to the world of loud and proud geekery, Geek Wisdom has something to teach you about what it means to live in the digital age.
Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan
More than 30 years after the world was first introduced to Mario, Pauline, and Donkey Kong, the Mario franchise has become the most popular video game franchise of all time. Just how did this pudgy little plumber take over America? Jeff Ryan charts Mario’s history, from its start as the brainchild of obscure and eccentric Japanese visionary Shigeru Miyamoto, to its embroilment in lawsuits and faceoffs with Sony and Microsoft, to its current status as a legend in the world of classic video games. A heartening underdog success story, Super Mario is a must-read for anyone and everyone who loves the man in the red overalls.
The Fold by Peter Clines
A wormhole developed in the California desert might just be the answer to teleportation and its creators insist it’s perfectly safe. But is the invention really what it seems? Enter Mike Erikson, sci-fi’s answer to Sherlock Holmes. As his investigations draw him ever deeper into the cryptic computer equations and magnetic fields behind the project, he begins to fear that the project is far more dangerous than he ever could’ve imagined. Inventive, fast-paced, and satisfyingly techy, The Fold is a nonstop thriller that fans of mind-bending sci-fi classics like Fringe, Star Trek, and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy won’t want to miss.
Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies? Just another day in the small town of Night Vale, where life is anything but ordinary. From the creators of the surreal and wildly popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast comes a highly imaginative novel of the same name featuring two women, two mysteries, and one fantastically bizarre town. It’s enigmatic, hilarious, and surprisingly profound–fans of the podcast and newcomers alike will be captivated.
The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs
If you’ve ever been frustrated by the too-often male dominated world of geekdom, this fun and feminist handbook is for you. Packed with tips, quirky illustrations, and a joyful love for all things geek, this unabashed fangirl’s take on geek culture–from the editor of TheMarySue.com, no less–aims to empower women of all ages to obsess about the things they love without shame.
Bonus! Glom on to Sam Maggs: Check out her Glomtacular Pop Culture diet
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture by Harold Goldberg
No longer considered just a fad or niche obsession, videogames have taken center stage as one of the world’s most popular forms of mass entertainment. How did this pop culture revolution happen? Harold Goldberg has all the answers in this extensively researched book that takes a look at the passion, creativity, and, of course, controversy behind the evolution of the videogame. Go inside the creation of Grand Theft Auto, World of Warcraft, The Sims, and many, many more and discover the secrets of our generation’s fastest-growing medium.
Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal
In this thought-provoking book, Jane McGonigal reveals what game designers have long known: the virtual environments we experience in videogames can be (and are) specifically engineered to fulfill genuine human needs. They make us happy and turn us into better problem solvers and collaborators. Now, McGonigal argues, it’s time to apply the lessons learned in game design to socially positive ends. You might want to sneakily leave your copy of this one lying around for those who claim you’re “wasting your time” on video games–that is, if you can bear to put this groundbreaking tome down for that long.