For my money, no serious puzzler's home should be without a copy of Mike Selinker's magnum opus "The Maze of Games." Part novel, part choose your own adventure, tons of puzzles? You bet. I could start by saying that this thing is chock full of truly mind-boggling and inventive puzzles that weave together to form equally axis-shifting metas and that would be enough to get most of you to get a copy. But this is Mike Selinker we're talking about here, and he doesn't do anything half-way. You see this book took years to write (no really, he started in the '90s). I saw one of the first test copies and that gave me an anyeurism. Well, turns out that wasn't enough because he raised the bar even higher from that version. And for the grand finale, he managed to convince, oh, just about everyone of his friends in the puzzle and game world to get in on the fun and write some puzzles and they managed to imbue even more life into a project that was already overflowing with personality. Add in some beautiful artwork by Pete Venters as well as a gorgeous hardcover packaging and you've got arguably one of the best-ever puzzle books of all-time. Buy two.
"Cryptic All-Stars" gets my nod for the best crossword book of the year. It's filled with varieties by some of the best in the business: Henry Hook, Joshua Kosman, Kevin Wald to name a few. And like all good variety cryptics, we've got some insane themes; thre that are worth mentioning include a treasure map, a game of HORSE, and a game of Operation. Curated by Roger Wolff and edited by Bob Stigger means that this is a tight ship. Throw in the fact that it's an indie release and you've got my seal of approval.
Meta crosswords are definitely enjoying a resurgence lately, and nobody shines more in that field than Matt Gaffney. Pick up his latest "mental_floss Crunchy Crosswords". This one's a close second for best crossword book in my mind as it is proof that one doesn't need to go the cryptic route to push puzzles forward.
For the budding historian in your life, Alan Connor's "The Crossword Century" is a must. The crosssword blogger for The Guardian collects numerous stories about puzzles on both sides of the Atlantic: some we've heard many times, some brand new, all pithy and entertaining. It even works as a nice primer to help the uninitiated break into solving cryptics.
And if fiction is more your thing, Robert Harris's "A Most Puzzling Murder" is short and sweet and hits all the right spots. Mystery at a crossword tournament in Brooklyn? Let's do this. Download a copy for your ebook reader in between shopping and or puzzling binges. And I know this isn't really a puzzle book, but one of my oldest friends just published his second novel and it's really really good. Michael Fournier's "Swing State" is kind of like John Updike and Hunter S. Thompson. No really. Trust me.
And then of course, for the BEQ fan in your life, there's always my latest "Marching Bands." Makes a great stocking stuffer. And there's still time for me to make a custom puzzle for your loved one. Email me today.
Reminder, the December drive is still chugging along. Everyone who can tip $10 gets three puzzles: a Sunday-sized themed puzzle, a Sunday-sized themeless and a Marching Bands. Remember, there's no need to tip as this site will always remain free. But the only way to get the bonus puzzles is through the drive. Thanks to all who were able to give so far.
Share the puzzle. New one on Thursday.