2007 Holiday Shopping Guide

Thursday, December 13, 2007


One of my readers wrote to ask me for some crossword gift recommendations, so I teamed up with Orange to give you some idea of what to buy for the crossword lovers in your life—or what to put on your own wish list. There are many hundreds of other crossword books out there, but this list can get you started and steer you towards the books and series with the Crossword Blogger Seal of Approval [note to Orange - we really should create one of these Seals so I can stamp it on everything I like]. Alas, we have no recommendations for crossword dictionaries, because we don't happen to use 'em (not because we're perfect, but because we simply don't find them useful).

NONFICTION

  • Amy Reynaldo's How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle: Hands-on coaching to improve solving skills, along with 60+ NYT crossword puzzles (Orange put this category at the bottom, but Rex said to move it to the top for proper self-aggrandizement)
  • Matt Gaffney's Gridlock: An engaging book about crossword constructors, the art of construction, the business aspects, and the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Both Orange and Rex's favorite portrait of the crossword world.

FOR KIDS


SUNDAY-SIZED PUZZLES


THEMED DAILY-SIZED CROSSWORDS


THEMELESS AND/OR HARD PUZZLES


ALT.CROSSWORDS


FOR POP-CULTURE VULTURES


FOR SPORTS FANS


FOR LITERARY LIONS


FOR TRIVIA BUFFS


OTHER TYPES OF PUZZLES

  • 101 Cryptic Crosswords: From the New Yorker: A good introduction to cryptic crosswords for new cryptic solvers
  • Frank Longo's Wordoku: Sudoku logic puzzles with a word twist—each grid will have a 9-letter word in one row or column, so anagramming the given letters can assist in solving
  • Matt Gaffney's Kaidoku: Crosswords with no clues, requiring a knack for logic and letter patterns/frequency
  • Henry Hook's Terribly Twisted Crosswords: Variety grids with tough clues and excellent fill
  • Henry Hook's Twisted Crosswords: The predecessor of the above book; this one might be a little tougher

STOCKING STUFFERS

  • Sterling's Sip & Solve Series and Sit & Solve Series of mini-books: Crosswords, sudoku, word searches, hangman, logic puzzles, math puzzles, trivia quizzes, and more. Barnes & Noble stores have racks of these to browse through. The books are shaped like toilet seats, coffee cups, and modes of transportation.
  • Patrick Merrell and Helene Hovanec's Coffee Time: A chunky little book with puzzles and trivia about the caffeinated lifeblood
AND A VIRTUAL GIFT
  • A gift subscription to the New York Times Premium Puzzles service: If you or someone you love are fond of the Times crossword, Premium Puzzles lets you get your hands on the crossword the night before it's published in the paper, and also gives you access to a decade of archived puzzles

15 comments:

Mary 10:21 AM  

Great list! Thanks.

Rikki 11:45 AM  

Thanks to O and R for this great list. I want them all! (Did you hear that, Santa?)

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Really great list of tips.
As far as the dictionaries go..... some of us need them. I gotta say I really use my Crossword Proper Name Finder by John C. Plankinton. Amazon has it, don't know about anywhere else. But darn, I just don't know everyone's name. And often that just makes all the difference in getting unstuck on a puzzle.

jae 12:52 PM  

FYI Trip Payne has a new kids book out called "the 21-Foot-Long Crossword Puzzle Book" published by Sterling Innovation.

Rob G. 1:18 PM  

Rex,

Why only books? What about some nice pens or pencils? And let's not forget the ultimate gift, a subscription to the NYTimes crossword site.

Rex Parker 1:24 PM  

Pencils are just too particular - everyone is going to have a different preference, and quality is therefore hard to judge.

For the record, in competition, I use Pentel e-sharp mechanicals (0.5).

rp

Rex Parker 1:25 PM  

PS if you work for Pentel, please send me free pencils. I will gladly accept your sponsorship / wear your company logo / etc. I have little-to-no shame about such things.

rp

wendy 1:39 PM  

Awesome list! Thanks for compiling it, O and R. You will keep it up as a permanent link, won't you, for purposes of gift-giving at all other times of year?

Orange 1:55 PM  

And I mostly use EraserMate pens. Here is a roundup of puzzle pros' pencil preferences at Eric Berlin's blog. I've learned the hard way with my kid that off-brand pencils really suck—the lead breaks, the wood's cheap, the eraser ferrule falls off, the eraser breaks in two. (My son is hard on pencils.) Dixon Ticonderoga pencils bear up much better.

And we meant to include the Times puzzle subscription, which is available right here. There's a "gift subscription" option, too.

Annielee 2:04 PM  

Thanks for the terrific list, Rex and Orange. I added quite a few things to my wish list. I second Wendy's request that you keep the links up.

EricFromMadison 5:46 PM  

Got any fiction suggestions?

For those who read, I would suggest the LightWedge as a perfect gift for anyone.

puzzledove 6:46 PM  

Great List! Yes, please leave it up. I'll be adding quite a few of these things to my wish list.
That Light Wedge looks pretty cool, too.
Thanks Rex and Orange for all of your work throughout the year!

Michael5000 11:36 PM  

Cool idea! Fodder for my online wishlists.

Fergus 1:58 AM  

I was accidentally quite rude, looking quite disdainful, upon being presented with a Crossword Dictionary gift. So beware, if the intended recipient gets his kicks from doing the puzzle with an UNAIDED EYE.

kmccormi 1:21 PM  

I'm a little late, but for those Crossword Puzzle fans who have a Nintendo DS handheld, touchscreen gaming system, there is a great New York Times Crossword Puzzles game for it.

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