Did you know that crossword puzzles have been around for nearly 100 years? The first such puzzle, created by Arthur Wynne at the request of his editor, appeared in the New York World in December 1913. Other newspapers picked it up, and crosswords can now be found in print media, as well as online. If you're a fan of crossword puzzles, you are a cruciverbalist.
Here are books that cruciverbalists and other wordplay fans will enjoy:
In "The Crossword Murder," the first book in Nero Blanc's Crossword Mysteries, crossword puzzle editor Thomas C. Briephs is found dead under unusual circumstances. Private investigator Rosco Polycrates enlists a rival editor to help him solve puzzles created by Briephs that might contain clues about his death. The book includes puzzles for readers to solve.
In "A Clue for the Puzzle Lady," the first in Parnell Hall's Puzzle Lady series, new police chief Dale Harper discovers an apparent crossword-puzzle clue on the body of an anonymous teenage girl. When a second body -- and second clue -- turn up, he teams up with puzzle lady Cora Felton to solve the mystery. Hall provides lovable characters and lots of laughs.
"The Rutherford Cipher," by William Rawlings employs different types of wordplay. Matt Rutherford, an unemployed executive, has come into enough inheritance money to do whatever he wants -- if he can find it. His aunt has left him land, rare Civil War manuscripts and a strange cipher leading to a cache of Confederate gold. Fans of cryptography, Civil War history and fast-paced thrillers will love this book, along with its sequels, "Crossword" and "The Mile High Club."
A pangram is a sentence that contains every letter of the alphabet. In "Ella Minnow Pea," by Mark Dunn, Ella is a girl living on the fictional island of Nollop, just off the coast of South Carolina. Nollop was named after the inventor of the famous pangram "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog," Nevin Nollop, and boasts a memorial statue of him. When the pangram's letters begin dropping off the memorial, the island's council begins outlawing the letters. To restore the island's freedom of speech, Ella must search for a new pangram to replace Nollop's.
"Wordplay: The Philosophy, Art, and Science of Ambigrams," by graphic artist John Langdon. Langdon was an inspiration to Dan Brown, who named his protagonist after him. He also created the ambigrams (words that can be read right-side-up or upside-down) in the book "Angels and Demons" and the movie versions of both "Angels and Demons" and "The Da Vinci Code." If you don't enjoy Brown's books, don't let that stop you! Langdon's essays and playful artwork cast everyday language in a whole new light.
Kids and adults will love "Frindle," by Andrew Clement. When young Nick Allen's teacher, Mrs. Granger, assigns him a report on how new entries are added to the dictionary, Nick decides to coin a new word. Nick's insistence on calling pens "frindles" catches on, much to the media's delight and Mrs. Granger's dismay.
Laura Henry has friends who do crossword puzzles in pen, but she is not that brave. She is the Assistant Systems Librarian for the Beaufort County Library System.