I haven't read much lately, but I've played a lot of games. If you're looking for some gift ideas, these might be just the thing. No video games here, just board and card games.
Tales of the Arabian Nights
I ran into this game at a convention last summer and fell in love. It's a great game. The players are not really competing against each other, it's more about the storytelling than the winning. As you move your token around on the board, things happen to you, both bad and good, based on cards and dice rolls and the massive story book. The game is entertaining, but be warned, it can last a good two or three hours. It's pricey, but well worth the cost.
Fluxx, a whole family of card games
I've got four different versions of this game. The basic version is a lot of fun. Rules change with every play of the cards. Someone can win out of the blue with no warning, although that rarely happens. Silliness abounds. Now add different flavors of the game. My current favorite is Pirate Fluxx. Treasures consist of different ships, booty, and a whole horde of bizarre pirate-y objects. The rules even include a Talk-Like-a-Pirate card. Everyone who uses an outrageous pirate accent gets to draw and play an extra card. Our versions include Monty Python and Martians. You can find a version themed for anyone. And the fun part? You can combine the decks for an even weirder game if you want. It's simple to learn and lots of fun to play. Plus, the decks of cards are pretty inexpensive for a game the whole family can enjoy, at least the ones who can read.
Settlers of Catan (and all the expansion sets)
Another pricey one, but one that appeals to adults and older kids. We've had this game for years, but it still gets pulled out on a regular basis. The game board is made up of various tiles so it's never the same. The game is about building a civilization on the island of Catan. You compete for resources and road space and settlements, but if you work together, everyone does better. It's an entertaining game, but again, one game can last several hours, especially if you start adding the expansion sets.
This game is unique. You have to cooperate to win. If you start competing, you will lose and so will everyone else. You have to win as a team. It's you against the sinking island. It's all about strategy and cooperation. To be fair, I haven't played this game myself but my children have told me it's a great game. We got it last year for Christmas, but it got lost in the pile of other stuff. They found it recently and decided to figure it out. It's now on the list of top ten games to pull out when they've got a few hours. It's a mid-price game, listing for about $14 on Amazon.
Apples to Apples
Another mid-price game, this one has been around for ages and comes in a wide variety of variations. We prefer Apples to Apples Jr. It's got fewer political figures and current events and more of just general things on the cards. The big drawback is that Jr. doesn't have a card for Han Solo or Indiana Jones. BUT, you can buy a pack of blank cards to run through your printer and make whatever cards you want to add. This is a great game for building vocabulary. As my family has figured out, though, the game isn't about matching your cards to the description card, but about playing to the psychology of the person choosing the winning card. It's a fun game for group parties or large gatherings. We've played with up to fifteen people and still had a blast.
Swipe Card Game
I found this little game at the grocery store. I figured for a couple of bucks, it would be worth trying. Everything fits in a little plastic case so it's great for taking on trips. Not for playing while you travel, though. It involves rolling dice and matching the symbols with different actions. Each player is trying to accumulate as many tokens as they can. The game ends when the last one is taken from the middle. It's easy to play. We taught a 3yo and a 5yo who can't read yet how to play. All of us had a blast with the game. It's a great, inexpensive game for all ages. It's also fast to learn and play.
Once Upon a Time Card Game
Another storytelling game, we bought this years ago and loved it. I'm happy to see it back in print with all-new versions available. Each player has two ending cards and various story element cards. It's a group story, though, with each player adding in their own twists as they all try to get the story to their particular ending. If you enjoy story telling, this is a game to check out.
I hope you have fun and find lots of time to play some new games with your family and friends. I love finding new board games that get my kids off the computers and gathered around the kitchen table.