Books for Role-players: Shelly Mazzanoble – Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons
Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons is a non-fiction book written by Shelly Mazzanoble and published by Wizards of the Coast.
By Cape Rust

Wizards of the Coast have developed their first “self help” book and they have chosen the witty and lovable Shelly Mazzanoble to write it. Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons was written with gamers and geeks in mind; however this book reaches far beyond that limited target audience.

Shelly Mazzanoble is the author of the ENnie Award winning Confessions of Part-Time Sorceress: A Girls Guide to the Dungeons & Dragons Game. Aside from her apparent love of long book titles, Shelly Mazzanoble has a fresh, honest, self-actualized style of writing that needs to be read. Mrs. Mazzanoble should be appointed as an ambassador for gamers and this book is her resume. People outside of the hobby tend to stereotype gamers and Shelly Mazzanoble is a great example of what not to expect when the rest of the world thinks about gamers. If you are a gamer (most of the people reading this are) it is easy to forget or block out how the rest of the world looks at our “dirty little hobby”. In her latest literary foray, Mrs. Mazzanoble tackles those nasty cubbyhole filling stereotypes and reminds gamers and the rest of the world that there is more to us than Mountain Dew, potato chips and polyhedrons. Shelly Mazzanoble reminds the rest of the world that there are girl gamers out there that thumb their noses at all of those preconceived notions that the non-rolling nation has developed thanks to the boob tube and the big screen.

Through the course of Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Dungeons & Dragons, we are given an all-access pass to the mind and efforts of a WoTC employee who is on a “quest to turn self-help into Elf-Help”.  To try to understand who Shelly Mazzanoble is and why she thinks the way she thinks, we are introduced to her mother Judy. If I were to change the title of this book it would be “S*&t Judy Says”. Many of the quests that Mrs. Mazzanoble embarks on during the course of this book are stimulated by her meddling but loveable mother. The opening chapter of the book is entitled Dungeon Mother. Here we begin to understand just what shaped Shelly Mazzanoble into the successful, loveable, maladjusted semi-OCD woman that she is. My absolute favorite part of this chapter was learning about Judy’s skill at the billiards table and her statement to the neighborhood boys “Never underestimate a woman’s rack!” Truer words have never been spoken.

As the book progresses, Shelly Mazzanoble decides to try to interpret and deal with people and situations in her life using concepts from D&D or from in-game interactions. There were parts of the book that focused on this core concept more than others. Honestly, this book would be successful without the D&D moniker. Shelly Mazanoble has many traits that I normally avoid in people. She is a vegetarian, she has control issues, she calls her mother every day (sometimes twice (co-dependent)) and in spite of all of these “unique personality traits,” I still couldn’t put her book down and would be honored to hang out with her and husband Bart or better yet, slay a few Dragons.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an honest, whimsical, conversational writing style. You do not have to be a gamer to get this book. I have passed it on to my non-gamer geek daughter and my non-geek, non-gamer wife and they are both enjoying it. The cover art is appealing and the use of blue ink in different portions made the book feel fresh and unique. Because this book is a WoTC product, it might not get the widespread exposure it deserves;  I see it shelved with game books and it really should be dual-shelved with its game book cousins and in the self-help section

Shelly Mazzanoble is a good writer and a great spokeswoman not only for female gamers, but gamers as a whole. Read what she has to say and pass this book onto the people in your life, all sorts of people in your life. Shelly Mazzanoble might just have found the right words to explain our hobby to the rest of the world.

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