The 5 Best Video Game Books: For When You Absolutely Have To Read, But Don't Want To Give Up The Controller Just Yet

By Steve Buja , Updated Dec 21, 2014 11:59 PM EST

Kids, I want you to go get your parents. What I have to say is more for them anyways. I’ll wait. Good? Hi, parents. If you are reading this, you probably have some concerns over the excess amount of video gaming your child does. If you do not, you need to stop and take a moment and reassess: your child is not reading, he’s playing a lot of video games. How about we meet halfway?

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We all want the next generation to read more, and not just on screens but on honest to god paper. No pictures, no cliff notes, just them and their imagination. But, finding the right book is hard. The classics are far too staid and needless, and most modern books are trash. If your son (or daughter, but probably son) likes video games, but you want him to read more, here’s our little cheat sheet: books…about video games.

So if you can’t take one more step into a GameStop this holiday season, why not try getting him one of these?

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Ready Player One - by Ernest Cline (Amazon) - a veritable love letter to the golden era of video games, this is a must read for anyone searching for a fun and breezy adventure that is positively bursting with pop culture and science fiction references. A futuristic MMO gives players the ultimate gaming experience, and the ultimate treasure hunt; one that could change the very direction of the world.

Neuromancer - by William Gibson (Amazon) - the original cyberpunk novel about a washed up hacker hired by a mysterious entity to pull off the ultimate heist. Gibson’s debut novel set the gold standard - and won the three most prestigious science fiction awards, the first title to do so - and his ability to turn a phrase can create a mental landscape in even the most addled of video gamers.

For The Win - by Cory Doctorow (Amazon) - the be-caped author manages to get young adults interested in macroeconomics and labor relations by discussing the very real issue of exploitation in MMO titles. Sometimes, people play a game but it's not fun. Take Mala, she plays a WoW-like game as a gold farmer in China, working essentially for the impatient westerners. It's a fascinating read, one helped by Doctorow's command of imagery.

Ender's Game - by Orson Scott Card (Amazon) - the classic sci-fi novel (turned into a fairly decent film last year) has a stellar twist in it, but before we get there, it's all about a child genius commanding his virtual space fleet towards victory against an alien race. This is video gaming power fantasy 101; most games out there are specifically about that very thing. While Card himself has become something of a variable in recent years, the power of Ender's Game will resonate with kids both young and old for a long, long time.

Snow Crash - by Neal Stephenson (Amazon) - the natural successor to Gibson’s work, in addition to having one of the greatest character names in all of literature - Hiro Protagonist - the novel takes you from an early version of cyberspace on back to the very beginning of language; dense, paced like a blockbuster and filled with ideas it does not always capitalize on, it is nonetheless a gripping, glorious read.

It’s cold out there. The kids are going to be inside anyways; why not give them something a little less digital and a little more stimulating to pass the time with?

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