Lizzie Stark's Leaving Mundania: Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Role-Playing Games details the author's own trip down the rabbit hole to look at one of the more frowned-upon hobbies in the world. Plunging in headfirst, Stark takes an appropriately immersive effort in learning about this hobby that combines elements of genre fiction, make-believe and the occasional epic battle. A hobby often thought too 'geeky' by other geeks, the author takes a wonderfully kind and yet still journalistic approach to her analyses and efforts. She doesn't merely observe others in the hobby, she participates herself, sharing not only her observations on LARPing but most importantly on the hobbyists themselves. She explores various forms of LARP, from the elves-and-sword fantasy to the Scandinavian artistic and political explorations, and even the immersive training efforts for modern military and historical reenactment, with a keen eye and equally smart prose.
Indeed, while Stark provides a broad picture of the hobby's particular charms and quirks, it is the stories of the individuals she meets that are the real highlight of the book. Seeing these individuals, their backgrounds and personalities and the role their hobby of choice plays in their lives provides a very human and sympathetic face to what is an often derided and ridiculed pastime. Through these people, Stark manages to tell a series of empathetic vignettes in her overall exploration of LARP, creating a page-turning and honest exploration of a compelling subculture and its many facets.
Tim @ Central