People have been doing puzzles for a very long time. In A Brief History of Puzzles (available as an ebook though Hoopla), William Hartston argues that one of the first books of puzzles is the Rhind Papyrus. This is a book of math puzzles, which dates to around 1550 BC, but probably borrows puzzles that existed before its writing.
Humans just seem to love puzzles. They provide a sense of satisfaction and help fill our natural desire to find patterns and order in the world. Experts even seem to think they’re beneficial to our brains, helping to keep us sharp. Many of us though just find them fun, and there are so many types of puzzles to choose from! There are word puzzles, math puzzles, riddles, crosswords, word searches, mazes, trivia puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, logic puzzles and more.
There are many books that incorporate puzzles into their story for both children and adults. The most obvious are mysteries, which always include a puzzle that the reader often hopes to solve before the characters in the book. Here are a few fiction titles that allow the reader to do a little puzzle-solving as they read.
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
This is a classic whodunit and a story within a story in which an editor (and the reader) needs to find hidden in the pages of a manuscript.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane
Filled with books and puzzles, this story will delight the inner nerd hiding in all of us.
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Secret symbols and coded manuscripts help unlock this mystery that takes place in a 14th century monastery.
Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
This Newbery winning children’s novel is about a millionaire whose will is structured like a puzzle, leaving his heirs to try to use the clues to get the inheritance.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
14-year-old Kyle and several other students have to solve puzzles to get out of a library designed by a game-maker.
Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell
This an illustrated chapter book about a young girl who uses her puzzle-solving skills to solve a string of burglaries.
The Sir Cumference series by Cindy Neuschwander
This is a series of picture books in which readers, along with the characters, solve math problems as part of the story.
If you’d rather be more hands-on with your puzzles, you can always check out one of our puzzle-themed Launchpads. These are easy-to-use tablets with pre-loaded puzzles and games that are fun and help keep your mind sharp.
And don’t forget that many branches provide copies of the newspapers’ crossword for you to take and do on your own time.
Before you go, see if you can find all the words in our library-themed word search below!
- by Christine Crawford, Hollowbrook Branch