The City of Fairfax Regional Library
If you’re looking for something else to do before or after escaping one of our rooms (or on any other day), you might want to visit the City of Fairfax Regional Library, located two minutes or less from our location in Historic Fairfax! Many of the game masters at Room Escape Fairfax love to read, making the library a frequent destination for us all. While Amazon may have made it easier to get books than ever, they don’t do it for free, but libraries do. In addition to a wide selection of books (of all genres and several languages),the City of Fairfax Regional library has plenty more to offer, such as rooms for studying or having meetings, community programs for many interests and age groups, and free Wi-Fi.
Are you a history buff? If so, the highlight of your visit to the City of Fairfax Regional Library may be the Virginia Room. This area of the library is well-known in the area for it’s rich collection of materials relating to local and state history. This includes a photographic archive, maps, historical newspapers and rare books. If the history of Fairfax isn’t quite your thing, how about the history of you? The Virginia room is an excellent resource for genealogy. That may seem like a boring word to many (including me before I visited the Virginia Room), but the in-depth collection of records and biographies can be fascinating if you know where to look. On a visit to the room with my family, my mother discovered my grandmother’s old yearbook from the 1940’s, featuring pictures we had never seen before, like my grandma in character in a performance of a murder mystery play. My grandmother the murderer, everyone. Want to discover a little bit about your state, town, or family’s past? Look no further than the City of Fairfax Regional Library’s Virginia Room.
So we have established that the local library is an excellent place to spend a little time, but if you don’t have any meetings to attend and you know everything there is about your ancestors, what do you do? Well you could always read a book. “But who reads anymore?!” I do, and you should, so here is a list of four books with a little bit of escape room flavor to them to stave off your puzzle addiction until your next visit to Room Escape Fairfax.
Any Sherlock Holmes Story: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Okay, you probably saw this one coming, but this list would be incomplete without mentioning one of the giants that modern mystery fiction would be impossible without. Sherlock is more than an outdated sarcastic insult for your friends, his logical reasoning is a great parallel to the kind of thinking that helps when playing a Room Escape game. If you want a full length novel, maybe try A Study in Scarlet, the introduction to many of the most famous characters in mystery fiction, like Sherlock Holmes (duh), John Watson, Inspector Lestrade, and The Baker Street Irregulars. In addition to creating this cast of famous faces and 221B Baker Street, Sherlock’s famous Holm (heh), A Study in Scarlet is the very first use of a magnifying glass in detective fiction. If you’re interested in something shorter, maybe try one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s dozens of short stories featuring the detective, like The Hounds of Baskerville or The Six Napoleons. The influence of Sherlock Holmes on modern mystery fiction and puzzle solving as a hobby isn’t just obvious, it’s elementary, my dear.
And Then There Were None: Agatha Christie
Now that I’ve finished discussing the books I had to talk about (though they’re still good, don’t get me wrong), I’ll talk about one of my all-time favorites. Arthur Conan Doyle may have set many of the tropes and conventions of modern mystery literature, Agatha Christie began to modernize the genre. And Then There Were None (previously released as Ten Little Indians…and other things) tells the story of ten strangers who were invited to a creepy island by a creepy stranger. Everything is going smoothly until they start getting murdered. One by one, the guests are killed with eerie similarity to a nursery rhyme (Ten little soldier boys standing in a line, one choked his little self and then there were nine, the group recalled after one of them succumbed to a poisoned drink). Since this is happening on an isolated island, they realize it has to be someone amongst them…but who? The novel has aged surprisingly well and is enthralling from start to finish. It sort of sounds like a premise for a room escape game, doesn’t it? Maybe in the future…
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: E.L. Konigsburg
This book is an excellent one for younger readers (or nostalgic adults). ‘The Mixed Up Files’ tells the story of two children who decide to run away from home and end up hiding in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. After a few nights of figuring out how to live comfortably in a museum (which is impressive for NYC in general), they hear about a statue purchased by The Met for dirt cheap that may or may not be a priceless work by Michelangelo. This launches their investigation into the history of the sculpture of the slightly eccentric Basil E. Frankweiler, whose files sure are mixed up. Their search is full of challenges and puzzles set up by the titular character, making it a fun adventure for readers of all ages.
The Martian: Andy Weir
Okay, this one has a little less direct resemblance to room escape games, but I like it and it’s my list. The Martian is about Mark Watney, an astronaut on Earth’s third mission to Mars in the not too distant future. It goes well, until it doesn’t. After a severe windstorm, Watney finds himself stranded alone on an alien planet and has to figure out how to solve the puzzles of contacting Earth, grow food, and just not dying on a planet where he can’t breathe until Earth’s next mission to Mars. Though this isn’t as much a ‘string of puzzles’ book like some of the others on the list, it does have some ties to Room Escape Fairfax. First of all, an escape from Mars is sort of like an Escape from Venus, so if you want to know exactly what surviving on Mars for over a year, this room will give you a truly authentic experience. Secondly, if you like science fiction, you may be interested in our upcoming project: two science-fiction themed rooms which will be coming to Escape Velocity, a part science-fiction part S.T.E.A.M. convention this September in Washington D.C. (and possibly to be seen more permanently in the future…stay tuned). Finally, if you look carefully in one of our rooms (possibly The Cure), you may notice a reference to the novel snuck in by a puzzle (and blog) writer who was in the middle of writing a game and reading an excellent book at the same time.
“Well those all sound great, but I don’t want to buy four books!” Then don’t, you Amazon-brainwashed consumer. Libraries are still a thing and are going as strong as ever. Any of the books in this list can be found for free at The City of Fairfax Regional Library, which you’re less than two minutes from any time you come visit Room Escape Fairfax. Do you have a favorite book with a escape-room-ish vibe? Let us know!