- Expected 17 Mar 2020
'Beautifully researched account, full of humour and personal insight'
David Crystal, author of Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar
'A witty, wise, and wonderfully weird journey that will change the way you think . . . This book is a delight'
Bianca Bosker, author of Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste
'Delightfully engrossing, charmingly and enthusiastically well-written history of the crossword puzzle' Benjamin Dreyer, author of Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style
'Full of treasures, surprises and fun . . . richly bringing to life the quirky, obsessive, fascinating characters in the crossword world'
Mary Pilon, author of The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game
'A gold mine of revelations. If there is a pantheon of cruciverbalist scholars, Adrienne Raphel has established herself squarely within it'
Mary Norris, author of Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen
Equal parts ingenious and fun, Thinking Inside the Box is a love letter to the infinite joys and playful possibilities of language, a treat for die-hard cruciverbalists and first-time crossword solvers alike.
The crossword is a feature of the modern world, inspiring daily devotion and obsession from millions. It was invented in 1913, almost by accident, when an editor at the New York World was casting around for something to fill some empty column space for that year's Christmas edition. Almost overnight, crosswords became a phenomenal commercial success, and have been an essential ingredient of any newspaper worth its salt since then. Indeed, paradoxically, the popularity of crosswords has never been greater, even as the world of media and newspapers, the crossword's natural habitat, has undergone a dramatic digital transformation. But why, exactly, are the satisfactions of a crossword so sweet that over the decades they have become a fixture of breakfast tables, bedside tables and commutes, and even given rise to competitive crossword tournaments?
Blending first-person reporting from the world of crosswords with a delightful telling of the crossword's rich literary history, Adrienne Raphel dives into the secrets of this classic pastime. At the annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, she rubs shoulders with elite solvers from all over the world, doing her level best to hold her own; aboard a crossword-themed cruise she picks the brains of the enthusiasts whose idea of a good time is a week on the high seas with nothing to do but crosswords; and, visiting the home and office of Will Shortz, New York Times crossword puzzle editor and US National Public Radio's official Puzzlemaster, she goes behind the scenes to see for herself how the world's gold standard of puzzles is made.