Shop now Shop now Shop now See more Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop now Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 10 November 2013
This book certainly would make a good present for a crossword-loving friend or family member. With its tasteful cover and erudite subject this is perfect for a coffee table. However, I also recommend reading it! It's good: well-written, fun and informative. It is also challenging - but it's up to you how challenging you want to make it. Some chapters I read quickly, others in detail - poring over sentences and not moving on until I understood them fully and had solved their clues. And there are lots of clues in this book. The table of contents is a crossword. Even the index contains clues! I was going to describe this as a 'concept' book, but that has a specific meaning in publishing, and this most certainly isn't a children's book.

The 'Preamble' says that the book is like solving a cryptic puzzle, and that you can read it in any order. This put me off at first as I am something of a traditionalist when it comes to reading a book - I like to start at the beginning and read each word in turn until I reach the end. In fact that's what I did, and I don't think I missed out by doing that. However I can see how some readers might want to pick-and-choose from the chapters- in particular, if you already know how to tackle cryptic clues then you might find some of the earlier chapters a bit suck-eggs-ish.

Which brings me on to a question I pondered while reading this book: is it aimed at a dabbler like me (think P.G. Wodehouse rather than M.R James) or a crossword aficionado? I think it is trying for both, and in my (dabbler's) opinion it succeeds. It is packed full of facts and anecdotes, told in a chatty, entertaining style. It seems meticulously researched - I doubt there's a crossword fact, or reference in history, politics or popular culture that Connor has missed.
Some sections are undoubtedly challenging for a dabbler, but then so are cryptic crosswords and if you don't like those you wouldn't be here.
0Comment| 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
How can you not love a book that brings together Stephen Sondheim, Georges Perec and the Two Ronnies?

Though I'm not particularly good at cryptic crosswords - knowing enough to adore Araucaria but generally have to look a few clues up online, and I'll never join the 'done in twenty minutes' or even an hour, club - I loved it. That's because the book's strength is all the stuff it has in it which isn't totally about crosswords - a discussion of what being a bit too keen on crosswords might signify in film script shorthand (cue a lovely essay on Brief Encounter); a totally brill first chapter on the evolution of PG Wodehouse's relationship with crosswords, both fictional and in reality; a very entertaining dip into the murky scientific waters around claims that doing the crossword will stave off dementia.

Alan Connor's book is a great Christmassy sort of gift book, but it's also really beautifully written and constructed - he seems to me to have taken the same care over it as a good setter would over a set of clues. His sentences are lovely, his sense of humour very entertaining, and at the same time he seems to have an inexhaustible supply of funny crossword trivia (good sketches off the telly involving crosswords, people who've asked for crosswords on Desert Island Discs, etc etc).

There's also a lot more detail about setters, structures, what happens when things are misclued, and stuff like that probably of interest only to keen crossword solvers; in fact the only possible criticism I could make of the book is one touched on by the other reviewer - who is meant to buy the book - beginners, or experts? But I think on the whole the book is SO enjoyable that any fairly intelligent person would really love it.

(I was also glad of a chapter that finally explained the totally bonkers 'Listener' Crossword to me, and regalvanised my resolve about never actually trying to do one. Though I'm not sure it should have been quite so early in the book. The Listener actually came BEFORE the chapter on basic clue solving, which I thought could be interpreted as just plain cruel...)
0Comment| 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 25 December 2013
I've enjoyed reading this book, full of snippets of information on the history of crosswords, details of crossword setters themselves and types of clues with lots of examples. Which is where I wish I had bought the print version rather than the Kindle version. The answers to these example clues are, as usual , at the back of the book, and it is not that easy to flip between the two on a Kindle. If I'd known there were as many as there are I would definitely have bought the print version. However, a recommended read.
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 19 February 2014
This is a great book about the cryptic crossword ideal for fans and newbies alike.

It starts with a typical cryptic crossword where the grid answers are the chapter titles of the book which is a nice touch. The book goes on to covers the history of crosswords and how they've developed over the 100 years they've been in existence along with a simple guide into the types of clues a solver may come across. Among the rest of the book which is an overall celebration of the crossword there is a fascinating section on how some setters take clue setting to the extreme and have created crosswords that have multiple ways to answer it with the same clues.

I particularly like how most chapters are nice and short allowing you to read as and when you have a bit of quiet time. Another nice little touch is throughout the book there are example clues demonstrating the current subject. There is never any pressure to solve the clues and you can pass them over without it affecting the read (although what solver is going to pass up the opportunity). The answers to all the clues are in the back of the book and in many case (especially in the clue type chapter) the answer is also explained. The only slight irritation I have is that in the Kindle Version you can't easily jump from the clue to the answer and back having to rely on the GoTo functionality which I always find hit and miss.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 7 December 2013
Elegant, absorbing and beautifully written and produced, this is the Christmas present I will be giving to all my crossword obsessed friends,whilst jealously guarding my own copy. It celebrates a hundred years of the world's most popular intellectual pastime and is engaging playful and, most importantly, consistently kind. It has given hope even to this inept and elementary puzzler.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 January 2014
Witty and erudite and always interesting, as is Sandy Balfour's earlier charming book on crosswords (PRETTY GIRL IN CRIMSON ROSE (8)) BY BALFOUR, SANDY[ AUTHOR ]Paperback 03-2004 which shares so much with this one, so I thought I'd give that one a plug in this review as no other reviewer so far has given it a mention. Despite the solitary nature of their hobby, both books suggest that solvers are also interesting people with a quirkily lateral view of the world.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 20 February 2014
I bought the Kindle version but would recommend the printed book as it would be easier to flip to the answers to the many, tricky and fun clues used to illustrate the wiles of the crosword setter.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 25 January 2014
If you are in the least bit interested in, or a total addict of, cryptic crosswords, this book is a must read. Everything you ever wanted to know about crosswords and their history. Not only was it a really interesting read but great fun too. I read it on my Kindle which was fine but I'm going to get myself a paper version as well as the frequent references to the back of the book are just so much easier with a finger or two as place markers. I also want to do the crossword.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 5 November 2014
I've been solving crosswords for years and know all the tricks but this book honed my skills further and I've noticed a marked improvement. Very entertaining too, full of interesting factoids.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 January 2015
fabulous book, read it twice on holiday, made me want to do more cryptic puzzles, and what a mine of information. loved it, even if you don't do crosswords, read this and you most probably will .
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)