Finck: Taking books out of context has never been so fun

Normally I would say the best thing to do with a book is to read it. But if you find yourself with friends and relatives holed up in a cabin on a rainy summer day, and if that cabin happens to have a shelf stuffed with random books, then there’s another option.
You could play a game called Bring Your Own Book.
My nephew and his wife brought this game to our family reunion last weekend, and everyone was doubled over with laughter.
The game was a hit for our group because there aren’t a lot of rules. It only took a few minutes to get set up and start playing. And it wasn’t too competitive. You need at least 3 people, but there is no maximum number of players, so it’s perfect for large groups.
Everyone has to bring their own book. We found an odd assortment on some shelves in the huge cabin we had rented. Someone grabbed a romance novel, another person had a quilting book. There was a book of advice for men, and a Western. Any book will do. But each player needs one.
The game begins with one person drawing a card. Each card has two prompts on it. The person who draws the card chooses one. The prompts are topics or categories; for example, “words read on a bumper sticker” or “advice to graduates” or “an item in a police report” or “a line from a ransom note.”
As soon as the category is announced, everyone starts skimming through the book in their hands to find a phrase or sentence that could work as, say, “words read on a bumper sticker.”
Then you go around the circle, and each person reads their phrase. The person who drew the card judges which one is their favorite and hands the card (with the category on it) to that person. Then the next person around the circle draws a card to start the next round. As soon as one person wins three cards, everyone passes their book one to the left, and the fun goes on.
This game, recommended for ages 12 and up, won the Parents’ Choice Silver Honor award and the Play Advances Language (PAL) award. It is also recommended by American MENSA.
It reminds me of the modern (or is it postmodern?) trend of creating works of art from “found objects.” Like wind chimes made from old kitchen utensils. In the game, you take “found phrases” and think of them in a new context. The result is sometimes beautiful, sometimes ironic, often hilarious.
I’m not sure if playing the game for 20 minutes would fulfill your reading quota for the day, but I’m pretty sure you’ll have a good time. Let me know what you think. You can reach me at [email protected]