An Enjoyable Deep Dive into Crosswords, Jigsaws, Sudoku, Mazes and More in The Puzzler by A.J. Jacobs

The Puzzler

My Review:

The Puzzler is an engaging read…a wealth of trivial yet gratifying information about puzzles and for a puzzle lover, it was so much fun! Sharpening problem solving skills while learning the history of puzzles can improve your thinking and hearing the author’s stories about conquering the most difficult challenges were motivating and insightful. His experiences with the New York Times crossword puzzle guru, Will Shortz, attempting to solve the most difficult corn maze and his entry into the World’s Jigsaw Puzzle Championship representing Team USA with his family were entertaining to learn about.

My brother, also a lover of puzzles recommended The Puzzler to me; he knew I would be into this book like he was – and maybe that is proof that genetics influence our preferences! I recommend the hardcover version as opposed to audio or digital because A. J. Jacobs generously provides tons of puzzles to work on and some great color photos to peruse as well. If you are interested in anything puzzle-like (I solve Wordle everyday, play sudoku often and always have a jigsaw puzzle in progress on the dining room table) you will enjoy this one!

A.J. Jacobs

About the Author:

A.J. Jacobs is an author, journalist, lecturer and human guinea pig. He has written New York Times bestsellers that combine memoir, science, humor and a dash of self-help. 

He is also editor at large at Esquire magazine, a commentator on NPR and a columnist for Mental Floss magazine. 

His first book is called The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World (Simon & Schuster, 2004). The memoir — which spent two months on the New York Times bestseller list — chronicles the 18 months Jacobs spent reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in a quest to learn everything in the world. It was praised by Time magazine, NewsweekVanity FairUSAToday, Janet Maslin in the New York Times and AJ’s uncle Henry on

After trying to improve his mind, he turned to his spirit. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (2007) tells of his attempt to follow the hundreds of rules in the Good Book. It spent three months on the NYT bestseller list, and was praised by Publishers WeeklyKirkus ReviewsThe New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles TimesUSA Today and others. It appeared on the cover of the evangelical magazine Relevant, but was also featured in Penthouse. (Jacobs is proud to be a uniter, not a divider).

In 2012, Jacobs completed his mind-spirit-body self-improvement trinity with Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection. It is the tale of his quest to be as healthy as humanly possible for which he revamped his diet, exercise regimen, sleep schedule, sex life, posture and more. He wrote the book on a treadmill desk (It took him about 1,200 miles).

He also published a collection of essays called My Life as an Experiment: One Man’s Humble Quest to Improve Himself (2010). The book contains experiments featuring George Washington’s rules of life, marital harmony, marital disharmony, multitasking and nudity – not in that order. It includes the Esquire piece ‘My Outsourced Life,’ which also appeared in Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek.

Jacobs’s book, It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree” is about the extraordinary changes happening in family research and DNA, and how they have an impact on politics, race relations, health and happiness. The book has been praised by Kirkus (“delightful”), Booklist (“a real treat”) and Publisher’s Weekly (“entertaining and lively.”)

Learn about his latest book, The Puzzler here.

In addition to his books, Jacobs written for The New York TimesEntertainment WeeklyNew York magazine and Dental Economics magazine, one of the top five magazines about the financial side of tooth care.

He has appeared on OprahThe Today ShowGood Morning America, CNN, The Dr. Oz Show, Conan and The Colbert Report

He has given several TED talks, including ones about living biblicallycreating a one-world family, and living healthily.

He is a periodic commentator on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, where he dispenses world-shaking historical trivia, including segments on tennis, royalty, and congress behaving badly (the 19th century Vermont lawmaker who spat chewing tobacco in his opponent’s face).

He writes a bi-weekly advice column for called “My Huddled Masses” Jacobs crowdsources the advice, asking his 120,000 Facebook followers for their insights on etiquette, moral dilemmas and how to deal with overabundant arm hair.

He writes another advice column for Mental Floss magazine in which he tries to make readers feel better by describing daily life past centuries. The good old days were terrible (“mind-bogglingly dirty, painful, fetid, smelly, sickly and boring”).

He is also a columnist for the LinkedIn Influencers program. His pieces include ‘The Six Most Important Business Lessons from All of History‘ and An Entrepreneur’s Most Powerful Tool: Self-Delusion.

Jacobs grew up in New York City. His father is a lawyer who holds the world record for the most footnotes in a law review article (4,812). His wife works for a highbrow scavenger hunt called Watson Adventures. He lives in New York with his family. He wonders if he fooled anyone with this third-person thing, or if everyone knows that he wrote this bio himself.  

Book Nation by Jen


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