According to experts and enthusiasts, the 7 best crossword books of 2021

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For some people, crossword puzzles are more than just a pastime: they are an important part of keeping your mind sharp—especially as you age. Crossword is a kind of “brain training”, before that, it was even a term. Classic brain teasers require players to use the knowledge they have accumulated over the years—including academic facts and trivia—as well as their vocabulary and oral language skills.

“Crossword puzzles stimulate and exercise neural pathways that may not normally be used as part of daily functions,” said Dr. Spencer Kroll, a board-certified physician and crossword enthusiast practicing in Marlboro, New Jersey. “Most people perform the same procedures every day. Adding crosswords and other word and number puzzles can help the brain recall, recognize and focus.”

Although crosswords are easy to find online, there is nothing like putting a pen (or pencil) on paper, sitting down, and having an endless (or at least a large) supply of crosswords at your fingertips. This is where crossword books come in-and there are no shortage of options.

To help you find the right one, here are the best crossword books.

Final verdict

Given that crossword preferences are highly personal—considering a person’s current skill level, their desired skill level, and their interest in a particular topic—it is difficult to recommend one book over another. Therefore, it makes sense to stick to the intermediate option “New York Times Wednesday Crossword Synthesis” (check it out on Amazon). This book has 200 puzzles and will appeal to Goldilocks of crosswords: people who like something that is not too difficult, not easy, but something in between.

What to look for in a crossword book


This may sound obvious, but please understand your own skill level and/or the skill level you are working on before buying. Of course, you can quickly browse a book designed for 10-year-olds, but where are the challenges and fun? Maybe choose two different types of books: one is suitable for your current level, providing relaxing and stress-free leisure activities, and the other is a book that really exercises your brain.

Print size

There is no “standard” size for crosswords, and there is no additional benefit to making a small game that you have to squint to read and complete. Make yourself a little easier and make sure you can actually read the text of this book. If a book contains big-character puzzles, it will usually be noted in the title of the book. But other than that, it’s the Wild West of font size—not to mention that a book may contain puzzles of different sizes. If you shop online and can’t read the book, check the online reviews to see if any previous customers have provided any insights.


Although there are many crossword puzzle books with a wide range of topics, others focus on a specific set of knowledge—such as food, historical periods, or specific TV shows. It’s not that one topic is better than others, but something to consider when choosing.

Physical characteristics of the book

Where are you going to do most of the crossword puzzles? If it is on the train during your commute or any type of travel, you might prefer a more compact and lighter book. If you want something for family use only, buy the crossword of your dreams. In addition, please pay attention to binding: books with spiral binding are usually easier to keep closing while you are doing puzzles than traditionally bound books.

Frequently asked questions

  • What are the benefits of doing crossword puzzles?

    A number of clinical studies on brain aging have shown that the use of puzzles is associated with less cognitive decline.

    “Measures of spatial working memory, verbal reasoning, reaction time, and attention were all evaluated in these studies,” said Dr. Spencer Kroll, a board-certified physician and crossword enthusiast practicing in Marlboro, New Jersey . “Compared with people who have never used puzzles, puzzle solvers have significantly improved performance in all cognitive domains, and the people who do puzzles the most often have the highest measure of attention.”

    According to Kroll, puzzles that use structural insight—such as interlocking words, numbers, and missing clues—seem to be more suitable for cognitive problems. This suggests that for some people, puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku may be better than jigsaw puzzles and word finding games.

  • Do crosswords help memorize?

    Dr. Patricio Espinosa, director of neurology at the Marcus Institute of Neuroscience at Baptist Health, said that memory decline—such as forgetting where you put your car keys—is not an urgent issue. However, for elderly people who often suffer from memory loss, if they suspect early Alzheimer’s or dementia, MRI and complete laboratory tests are recommended to rule out reversible causes.

    The good news is that there are many ways to help you improve your memory and mental acuity. “Especially crossword puzzles can challenge thinking more than usual,” Espinosa explained. “They can increase cognitive reserves—this is the brain’s ability to improvise and find new ways to find information—and also help neuroplasticity, the ability of neurons to make new connections. Therefore, by establishing these connections and reserves, you can Prevent or delay cognitive decline.”

  • What kind of puzzle is best?

    In determining which puzzles are best for a person, it depends on their cognitive baseline and personal needs. “Just like muscles, the type of exercise will depend on the athlete’s goals,” said Dr. Mohammed Elamir, who specializes in brain health and cognitive function treatments at the Aviv Clinic in Florida. “In any case, if the other option is to watch TV or browse social media, any form of puzzle would be great.”

    But just having a cognitive advantage is not enough: the puzzles must also attract a person’s attention and interest so that they can continue to use them-which may mean expanding from the crossword puzzle.

    Espinosa said: “I tell my patients to buy cognitive activities, such as crosswords and Sudoku games, as well as engage in art activities, listen to music, participate in cooking classes, visit museums, and participate in concerts.” Although crosswords may be very Well, they are not for everyone. It is important to find an interesting cognitive activity. “

    Finally, if you can’t carry a book with you, there are many computerized brain training games on the market, including many apps for crosswords, Sudoku, and other brain teasers, Kroll explained.

What the experts say

“Just like physical exercise keeps your body healthy, new brain activities help prevent memory loss. Studies have investigated crossword puzzles and mental activities. These activities are thought to increase cognitive reserve, and there are some signs that They may reduce neurodegeneration.” ——Dr. Patricio Espinosa, Director of Neurology, Marcus Institute of Neuroscience, Baptist Health

Why trust is very good thinking?

As an experienced health writer and editor with a special focus on mental health and well-being, Elizabeth Yuko understands how powerful stress-relief activities are for many people — and the fact that they are not the same — all . With decades of first-hand experience dealing with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, she has been looking for new (and research-supported) products, technologies and services that can help people cope with stress and other mental health challenges.