The best novels are immersive -- either their plots compel readers to turn page after page, or their ideas buzz wildly in our minds. But novels necessarily don't inundate all of our senses. Unlike most other artistic mediums, much of the sensory legwork must be completed on the part of the readers' imagination. As designer Peter Mendelsund showed in his book What We See When We Read, there's a significant discrepancy between how an author describes a character's physical appearance, and how an audience envisions it.
He writes, "Even if an author excels at physical description, we are left with shambling concoctions of stray body parts and random detail. We fill in gaps. We shade them in. We gloss over them. We elide. Our mental sketches of characters are worse than police composites." In fact, a police composite sketch of Anna Karenina made based on the novel's musings falls short of the striking beauty most readers imagine.
So, imagination may be the chief difference between reading a novel and taking in a narrative that's produced in the form of a game. Another distinction: While most games involve agency on the part of their players, most novels do not. There are exceptions, of course: choose-your-own-adventure books, and games that serve the purpose of illustrating the powerlessness we have against forces of fate (play Passage if you haven't). But for the most part readers don't expect to change any course of action, large or small, when they curl up with a book.
With these criteria in mind, we've rounded up a handful of apps that feature stories book lovers will enjoy. These aren't likely to appeal as much to the Candy Crush set as they are to voracious subway readers. Take a look, and play on: