Crosswords are not just fun, but can be educational too, especially for the writer. Even the so-called simple crossword is good for learning synonyms. Did you know, for example, that another word for harem is seraglio?
The cryptic crossword is great for developing your lateral and logical thinking, and for looking at words — the basic tools of the writer — in a different way. For instance, in a cryptic crossword “viewers” is likely to mean eyes rather than spectators, while a “mobile home” probably refers to a snail shell!
For those of a more classical bent, The Times Saturday edition has a crossword entitled O Tempora!, the answers to which are in Latin.
If you’re interested in crosswords, and how to do the cryptic variety, the following books are definitely worth considering. All links are Amazon associates links.
Two girls, one on each knee (7), by Alan Connor. This is a great book for learning how to do cryptic crosswords, from one of Britain’s most respected setters. Its table of contents is in the form of a crossword puzzle, and internal references in the book take the form of “See 17 across” rather than “see page 123”. The title itself is a clue: two girls are Pat and Ella. Put them together and you get “patella”, which you will find on each knee.
Pretty Girl In Crimson Rose (8): A Memoir of Love, Exile and Crosswords, by Sandy Balfour. This is not solely about crosswords, but is interesting and informative nonetheless. The title is a clue: a “pretty girl” is a “belle”; another word for “crimson” is “red”; put “belle” inside “red” (because the clue tells you that the word for pretty girl goes “in” the word for crimson), and you get “rebelled”, which is a synonym for “rose”.
FUN: Spies, Puzzle Solvers and a Century of Crosswords, by Paolo Bacilieri. This is partly about the history of crosswords, and partly a kind of detective story, in the form of a graphic novel. It’s very interesting and engaging.
80 Years of Cryptic Crosswords, by Val Gilbert. This looks at the Daily Telegraph crosswords from each decade from 1925 to 2005, with information about what was going on at the time plus anecdotes and examples of clues. It’s a really good read, and it’s interesting to see how the cryptic crossword puzzle has evolved (become more abstruse!) over the years.