Can You Solve My Problems? by Alex Bellos
(Guardian Faber, 2016)

Can You Solve My Problems?

by Alex Bellos

Are you smarter than a Singaporean ten-year-old? Can you beat Sherlock Holmes? If you think the answer is yes – Alex Bellos challenges you to solve his problems.

Here is the story of the puzzle, one of mankind’s oldest and greatest forms of entertainment and enlightenment, told through 125 of the world’s best brainteasers from the last two millennia. It takes us from ancient China to medieval Europe, Victorian England to modern-day Japan, with stories of espionage, mathematical breakthroughs and puzzling rivalries along the way.

You’ll pit your wits against logic puzzles and kinship riddles, pangrams and river-crossing conundrums. Some solutions rely on a touch of cunning, others call for creativity, others need mercilessly logical thought. Some can only be solved by 2% of the population. All are guaranteed to sharpen your mind.

Let’s get puzzling…


Reviewing good puzzle books is frustrating, because you get to page one of the introduction, find a curious puzzle, become engrossed for 20 minutes, miss your stop and then fail to get home in time to say goodnight to the kids. Be warned, Alex Bellos's new book could put a strain on your personal life, particularly if you are willing to go through the joyful ordeal and gleeful torment of solving every single one of his 125 puzzles ... Can You Solve My Problems? is not just a random list of skull-warping brain-teasers, but rather a skilfully curated anthology of puzzles... Bellos takes us back to the origins of various types of puzzle and explains their historical development... [he] reveals how intellectual giants, such as the mathematician John Conway, the Bletchley park codebreaker Max Newman, the Nobel physicist George Gamow and many other smart cookies, devoted a significant amount of their time to playing with puzzles ... Excellent.”
- Simon Singh Observer, Science and Nature Book of the Day