Although we all know the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” I think we’ve also all been guilty of falling into that trap. These are three recs that look relatively simple, but it’s only because they’re hiding underlying complexity and depth.
This is a fun, two player card game where you and another player compete against each to earn the favors of seven geisha masters. It’s played over a series of rounds, with four turns each round. When one of you has earned four favors, the game is over and that player wins. You earn favor with each master by playing cards to each master, and at the end of the round, if the majority of cards played on that person are yours, you have earned their favor. Each round, you are given four action cards that allow you to play the favor cards in your hand, and you take turns playing one of four actions (hence, four turns). You can play these actions in any order you prefer, as can your opponent. It’s a very fast game, and probably takes fifteen minutes to play. But the charming artwork and quick playtime that goes into this game belie the bluffing and strategy that it holds. This is a fantastic two player game that has a lot of replayability.
I admit, when this game first came out, I thought it looked silly and stupid and that it had been created for an entirely different generation (one, perhaps, more enamored with Minions and other strangely oblong creatures that act in logic defying ways). And yet… I love this game. I played it non-stop after I got it for Christmas, and was extremely sad when I beat it because I had so much fun playing it. If you’re familiar with the X-COM video games, to me this is a more approachable X-COM. If you’re not familiar with X-COM, this is a tactical shooter video game. But with Mario! The artwork makes it look like it was made for your five your old niece or nephew, but the strategy in this game makes it strictly adult. Okay, maybe I’m overselling the strategy level – it’s not outrageously difficult, but the team composition and enemy variety bring a level of complexity to this game that was totally unexpected. My biggest complaint about the game were the – the game obviously expects you to backtrack in order to complete the game, but the layouts of the levels are so unintuitive when you’re replaying them that it turns something enjoyable into a chore. It’s as though they’re trying to increase the difficulty in the one area that should be the simplest section. Still, overall it’s a really fun game. And if my biggest complaint is that they didn’t let me play it enough, well, I think that just speaks to the quality of their product. Also – the soundtrack! Amazing! Anyway. If you have a Switch, this is a must-buy.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
I hadn’t heard very much about this book when I first picked it up. The title reminded me of Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (which I loved), so I felt compelled to at least pick it up and give it a shot. It starts out a little slow, in my opinion, but as you get to know Eleanor you find yourself falling deeper into the story, and soon you’re right there in the world with her, trying to help figure out why Eleanor is completely not fine. Because Eleanor is absolutely, definitely, completely not fine. Eleanor works in the payroll department at a local office, and has for almost a decade. She is quiet, and has never sought more for herself, never considered leaving to look for better opportunities. She has no friends, and every Friday she buys a pizza and a bottle of wine and consumes them both, along with a sizable amount of vodka, until she goes back to work on Monday. The book is told from her first person perspective, so you’re presented the world as she sees it, and I love the book for doing this. It means that you’re on Eleanor’s side from the first word you read, and after I finished all I wanted to do was reach through the book and give her a protective hug. Although I wasn’t totally fine after finishing this, I had faith that Eleanor would be. This is a book where you look beyond the average and unassuming to find the important stuff that’s been hidden away. Definitely recommend.
Do you have any recommendations for something that looked like a throwaway but ended up being a forever item? Let me know if the comments below!