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The Puzzler: One Man's Quest to Solve the Most Baffling Puzzles Ever, from Crosswords to Jigsaws to the Meaning of Life

af A. J. Jacobs

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2269121,671 (3.73)11
Biography & Autobiography. Games. Self-Improvement. Nonfiction. HTML:The New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically goes on a rollicking journey to understand the enduring power of puzzles: why we love them, what they do to our brains, and how they can improve our world.

What makes puzzles??jigsaws, mazes, riddles, sudokus??so satisfying? Be it the formation of new cerebral pathways, their close link to insight and humor, or their community-building properties, they??re among the fundamental elements that make us human. Convinced that puzzles have made him a better person, A.J. Jacobs??four-time New York Times bestselling author, master of immersion journalism, and nightly crossworder??set out to determine their myriad benefits. And maybe, in the process, solve the puzzle of our very existence. Well, almost.
In The Puzzler, Jacobs meets the most zealous devotees, enters (sometimes with his family in tow) any puzzle competition that will have him, unpacks the history of the most popular puzzles, and aims to solve the most impossible head-scratchers, from a mutant Rubik??s Cube, to the hardest corn maze in America, to the most sadistic jigsaw. Chock-full of unforgettable adventures and original examples from around the world??including new work by Greg Pliska, one of America??s top puzzle-makers??The Puzzler will open listeners?? eyes to the power of flexible thinking and concentration. Whether you??re puzzle obsessed or puzzle hesitant, you??ll walk away with real problem-solving strategies and pathways toward becoming a better thinker and decision maker??for these are certainly puzzling times.
*Includes a downloadable PDF of puzzles, answers, ill
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Viser 1-5 af 9 (næste | vis alle)
A brief tour around the world of puzzles, from crosswords to jigsaws to the Rubik's Cube, ancient riddles to chess problems to scavenger hunts. None of it is super in-depth, as it covers a whole lot of different kinds of puzzles and each one only gets a pretty brief chapter. But I did find that overview interesting, as were some of the puzzle-makers and puzzle-solvers that Jacobs interviews. I wasn't always nearly as interested in hearing about Jacobs' own encounters with and opinions about puzzles, especially his obsession with attempting the "hardest" example of each one. But maybe you have to forgive that sort of thing in an A.J. Jacobs book. From the other examples of his work I've read, his whole thing, really is, "Hey, watch me obsessively do a quirky thing!" And I think either I did get more forgiving as we went along, or I actually started finding his personal perspectives more interesting, or both. And, while I can't say his thoughts about topics like why we enjoy puzzles were incredibly original or insightful, I did mostly enjoy reading them. As, ultimately, I enjoyed reading the book as a whole.

There are also a variety of puzzles included here for you to try your own hand at, if you're so inclined. I didn't do all of them, myself, as some of them were much more my sort of thing than others, and there's no way I have the time or mental energy to do the big puzzle challenge he includes in the back of the book. But it was fun to have them here, anyway. ( )
  bragan | Jun 24, 2024 |
A.J. Jacobs, an entertainingly geeky writer and journalist with a penchant for immersing himself deeply into his topic of research, takes on the topic of puzzles. Each chapter investigates the history and playing style of a different kind of puzzle including crosswords, Rubik's Cubes, jigsaws, mazes, Sudoku and KenKen, chess problems, riddles, puzzle boxes, and scavenger hunts.

Jacobs did a lot of work for this book during the isolation period of the COVID pandemic which is appropriate as the need to pass the time while staying at home lead to an increased interest in puzzles among the general public. Jacobs interviews a number of puzzle creators (such as New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz) and some of the world's greatest puzzle solvers. He also attends competitions, most memorably when he brings his family to Spain to represent the United States in an international jigsaw puzzle competition.

Each chapter includes a sampling of puzzles for the reader to try out themselves. For the audiobook, Jacobs provides some clever alternates to the more visually-oriented styles of puzzles. I never considered myself a diehard puzzler, although I do enjoy them from time to time, but I found this a fun and entertaining book that stoked my interest in doing more puzzling. ( )
  Othemts | May 21, 2024 |
I absolutely loved this book! If you love puzzles, this is a fun book with details and history of various puzzles: jigsaws, crosswords, word puzzles, number puzzles, and more! It has humor and many puzzles for you to attempt on your own.
I enjoyed learning about some of the constructors of puzzles, mazes, and cubes. I enjoyed reading about the tournaments and the research the author did for the book.
This is a must read for any puzzle lover! ( )
  rmarcin | Aug 15, 2023 |
In the middle of “The Puzzler” (2022), A.J. Jacobs writes, "As a kid, I suffered from mild OCD and I had many strange rituals." That explains a lot. Maybe Jacobs hasn't entirely outgrown that obsessive-compulsive disorder. That may, in fact, be the secret of his success.

Jacobs has written a series of popular books that perhaps only someone with "mild OCD" could have written. In “The Know-It-All” he describes his experience of reading through the entire Encylopaedia Brittanica from beginning to end. In “The Year of Living Biblically” he tells of trying to follow every law in the Hebrew Bible, including all those dietary ones, to the letter. And so on.

Now in “The Puzzler,” he writes about all the major forms of puzzles, from crosswords and sudokus to jigsaws and Rubik's cubes. More than that, he seeks to obtain and solve the hardest of them. He participates in an international jigsaw puzzle contest. He tackles nearly impossible mazes and purchases a puzzle that, even if a person knew what he was doing and worked at it nonstop, would take billions of years to solve.

Yet it is the author's immersion in these puzzles that makes his book so fascinating. His sense of humor also helps. He interviews puzzle creators and the best puzzle solvers. He even interviews the great chess champion Garry Kasparov about chess puzzles.

One need not be either obsessive or compulsive, or even enjoy puzzles, to find pleasure in this book. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Aug 14, 2023 |
This audiobook was a sheer delight! With a smooth and uniquely distinctive voice, author and puzzler A.J. Jacobs takes us on a tour of puzzles and the people who love them in The Puzzler - One Man's Quest to Solve the Most Baffling Puzzles Ever, from Crosswords to Jigsaws to the Meaning of Life. The author's first love is crosswords, but he succeeds in taking us on a balanced and thoroughly satisfying tour through the world of puzzles.

A solver is a person who does puzzles, and in the book Jacobs interviews many who dedicate their lives to creating or solving a variety of puzzles. He covers a broad range of puzzles, including: anagrams; ciphers and codes; crosswords and cryptic crosswords; chess; jigsaw puzzles; riddles; Rubik's cube; logic problems, sudoku and more.

Jacobs shares his experiences with each of the puzzle types and I especially enjoyed his story about entering an international jigsaw puzzle competition with his family. This led me down a jigsaw rabbit hole, watching a short documentary about the mind blowing jigsaw competition that sees solvers given a series of brand new previously unreleased puzzles from Ravensburger as they compete to solve them. There are solo events, pairs and team events and it's a fascinating sub-culture.

When defining what a puzzle is, Jacobs declares a puzzle will almost always:

"... cause the solver to experience a period of difficulty and struggle, followed by relief. They provide an a-ha moment, tension leading to, an almost, well, orgasmic ending." Chapter 2: The Puzzle of Puzzles.

Jacobs involves the reader at every opportunity, creating a bonus puzzle time for audio listeners, and providing a PDF with 100+ pages of puzzle examples and supporting material for the book. Some of the puzzles mentioned sent me on a nostalgic trip down memory lane, or inspired me to seek out more info. Did you know the world's largest puzzle is from Ravensburger and contains 40,320 pieces? It's estimated that if a solver spends 2 hours per day working on the puzzle, it will take an entire year to complete it!

The author is serious about his puzzling, checking every night without fail for the online release of his favourite puzzles, and volunteering to tackle some of the hardest puzzles in the world. The Japanese puzzle box desk sounded incredible and I longed to see it in person.

Jacobs explores why so many of us love puzzles, concluding that the art of puzzling is 'bafflement, wrestling and solution'. Some of us become bored or frustrated and give up at the bafflement or wrestling stage, but Jacobs discusses the pleasure to be had from the mental and intellectual effort and the sense of accomplishment that follows when a puzzle has been solved. His enthusiasm for the topic is infectious and I enjoyed this tantalising look into the puzzle world.

I enjoy a puzzle myself, and am still doing the daily Wordle and - thanks to this book - occasionally taking on the Spelling Bee by The New York Times. I've asked myself how I can give an audiobook about puzzles my top rating of 5 stars, because that's what I'm about to do.

All I can say is that I had such a great time reading this. I was inspired to share some of the riddles and puzzles with my husband and we had a good laugh solving them (or not) together. As I said, The Puzzler by A.J. Jacobs was an absolute delight. I looked forward to listening to a chapter or so each day and was sorry when I 'solved' the last one.

Highly recommended! ( )
  Carpe_Librum | Aug 7, 2023 |
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Biography & Autobiography. Games. Self-Improvement. Nonfiction. HTML:The New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically goes on a rollicking journey to understand the enduring power of puzzles: why we love them, what they do to our brains, and how they can improve our world.

What makes puzzles??jigsaws, mazes, riddles, sudokus??so satisfying? Be it the formation of new cerebral pathways, their close link to insight and humor, or their community-building properties, they??re among the fundamental elements that make us human. Convinced that puzzles have made him a better person, A.J. Jacobs??four-time New York Times bestselling author, master of immersion journalism, and nightly crossworder??set out to determine their myriad benefits. And maybe, in the process, solve the puzzle of our very existence. Well, almost.
In The Puzzler, Jacobs meets the most zealous devotees, enters (sometimes with his family in tow) any puzzle competition that will have him, unpacks the history of the most popular puzzles, and aims to solve the most impossible head-scratchers, from a mutant Rubik??s Cube, to the hardest corn maze in America, to the most sadistic jigsaw. Chock-full of unforgettable adventures and original examples from around the world??including new work by Greg Pliska, one of America??s top puzzle-makers??The Puzzler will open listeners?? eyes to the power of flexible thinking and concentration. Whether you??re puzzle obsessed or puzzle hesitant, you??ll walk away with real problem-solving strategies and pathways toward becoming a better thinker and decision maker??for these are certainly puzzling times.
*Includes a downloadable PDF of puzzles, answers, ill

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