When I'm doing Word-Buff Stuff, some word game books get consulted over and over again. So I've organized these extra-important books into a kind of miniature library. Here it is in our lounge room, right next to the wine cabinet...
I'm currently writing short reviews of each of my favorite word game books, just to give you a feel for why I consider them to be indispensable members of my library. Hopefully, this description will help you decide which books you might like in your own collection.
Ok, so here is an alphabetical list of the reviews I've completed so far. I've set them up so that you can add comments to my reviews if you'd like to say more about a book, or ask a question...
"As Samir steps to the microphone after Aliya's misspell, he knows that only one speller stands between him and the trophy that gleams to his left...
Samir's word is Roscian, meaning 'of, relating to, or skilled in acting.' 'Roscian?' Samir asks, making the word a big question. He looks, for the first time in this competition, a bit uneasy. Instead of his usual panache, the uncertainty in his voice reveals that he's going to be gambling..." pp. 348-9
And so, the author of American Bee, James Maguire - a journalist and wonderful storyteller - keeps me turning page after page, chapter after chapter, desperate to find out who will win the 2005 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Read more...
The Art of Scrabble
Now, I don't use the following words lightly here at Word-Buff, so I want you to listen carefully... If you want to get seriously good at Scrabble, you must lie, beg, or steal to get hold of a copy of The Art of Scrabble, sometimes sold under the alternative title, How to Win at Scrabble.
As a matter of fact, jokes aside, you might actually have to do one of those things, because this book is now as rare as hens' teeth. Hopefully, the links I've provided in this brief review (the text link above, and the image on the right) still lead you to an available copy.
At 160 pages, The Art of Scrabble looks like a lightweight rather than a seminal treatise, but I can assure you it's the latter. This book contains the most detailed and up-to-date results in strategic analysis available, and walks you through everything from the very basics. It is especially strong on word-learning techniques, and even has a powerful chapter on the psychology of Scrabble. Even expert Scrabble players admit they learned a great deal from this book.
The whole thing is masterfully constructed from a learning perspective, with loads of short punchy sections, anecdotes from previous bee champions, sample word lists, spelling strategies, and spelling games. In fact, you can flip this book open at just about any page and you'll have a fascinating read. Read more...
I've bought a lot of books that claim to be about crossword-solving, but shortly after they arrive on my doorstep I discover that they are little more than an excuse to wrap up yet another collection of a hundred puzzles between two covers, and throw on a $20 price tag.
Although there are certainly loads of practice puzzles in this book, the aim is genuinely to teach the reader how to solve puzzles, by revealing the devious tricks and ploys of evil crossword constructors.
I learned a ton of useful tips in this book, and also enjoyed the many Quick Quad puzzles strewn throughout it. I don't enjoy many of the Idiot's Guide series, because I find them condescending and a bit disorganized in their attempts to over-simplify things. But this is one of a very small number of exceptions.
One day, a sports journalist by the name of Stefan Fatsis rolled up to a North American Scrabble club, hoping to observe the culture of competitive Scrabble for a book he was writing. Instead, he became a part of it.
Word Freak chronicles an incredible journey taken by Fatsis as he becomes determined to join the ranks of master Scrabble players. Only a person this close to the scene could possibly get it this right. I'm reading it now for the third time, and it's really hard to put down.
Know of a Good Book about Words and Word Games?
Have you read a book about word games, puzzles or wordplay that you'd like to tell others about? Here is where you get to have your say.
You can either write a book review of your own, or comment on one of the books already reviewed by myself and other Word-Buff visitors.
Book Reviews By Other Word-Buffs
Click below to browse the book reviews that have been written already. Feel free to leave your own comments...
So You Think You Can Spell? Not rated yet So You Think You Can Spell? , written by David L. Grambs and Ellen S. Levine , has lots of fun spelling bee quizzes. See if you're as spelling-sharp …