Clever Commuter: Puzzles, Tests and Problems to Solve on Your Journey by Dr Gareth Moore
The week before I reviewed this book I saw a newspaper article that said that so-called brain-training apps are a waste of time, that they merely replace what we should be doing anyway to keep our grey cells active (multi-tasking, observing, REAL LIFE etc). This is the puzzle book version of a brain training app, and so with all those electronic titles on the market it already had opposition, even before that news came in. But let's face it – who on earth would risk the science being wrong on this occasion? Surely this kind of book should be an inherently essential purchase?
|Clever Commuter: Puzzles, Tests and Problems to Solve on Your Journey by Dr Gareth Moore|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: While this book will certainly stay in your hand longer than some of the novels we cover, it may not be the ideal purchasing decision.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? No|
|Pages: 192||Date: April 2015|
|Publisher: Michael O'Mara Books Ltd|
|External links: [www.brainedup.com Author's website]|
Well, yes and no. It might well be the first strict puzzle book (beyond those by Ian Stewart and his type, that contain many mathematical posers) we've covered at the Bookbag, so I ought to itemise what you get. In equal sections labelled 'beginners', 'intermediate' and 'advanced' the author cycles through different puzzle pages, creating a varied flow through the book. Here are some basic IQ-styled questions, including sums and visual acuity, while logic and pure maths follow, along with instant visual and literary comprehension memory tests. Many of the puzzle types will be familiar to anyone who has picked up a newspaper recently – a chain of maths directions must be solved in order to arrive at a final answer number; 'Rectangles' demands you fill a grid sparsely populated by digits with the outline of the rectangles containing both said digits and the correct number of individual puzzle units they represent. There are several instances of the puzzle that has a brilliant app all to itself – 'Flows' is its electronic name, here it is 'Shape Link'. (I'm not at all suggesting this is derivative of anything or anyone, as under the name The Brain Workout it has existed since 2011.)
The introduction suggests we concentrate on our passage through the book almost as much as solving the puzzles – trying to not leave any out, for sake of failing to get some mental muscle in form. I'll admit I failed to do this, for some just weren't to my taste. I also found the format of the book problematic – while it is nice to have the puzzle on one page, and the instant response of the answers on the reverse (until you get to the instances of seeing the answer right through the paper, as here), the regular puzzle magazine (and newspaper page) allows you to dip in and out, leaving half a crossword here, a Sudoku just begun there. I could also nit-pick here and there – the 'Number Darts' puzzles seem to lack in some forethought, and why something as basic as (spoiler alert!) identifying the opening square number sequences are ranked as 'intermediate' I'll never know.
That said, this book stayed in my grubby hands as much as, if not much longer in fact than, any regular book, fiction or non-fiction. I did enjoy the challenge, for there was enough to make me kick myself at the basic level and enough for me to get right at the advanced. Ultimately, however, I have to admit failure in this review. There purely is no way I can judge whether the book was successful or not. Am I smarter for having gone through it (and at my own pace, not the page-per-day rate the structure seems to imply)? I don't know, but I feel a quip about improving on perfection coming along, so perhaps not. There is a me in a different universe where I spent my time on something else. When we get in touch and compare notes, I'll let you know. Until then I leave you with the thought of you – yes, YOU – being even more intelligent, focused and savvy than you are now. If that's something that fills you with wonder, you may well want to consider clicking 'purchase now' for this title. The risk involved in not, of course, is still potentially too great to take.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
If you are still old school enough to rely on crosswords for your brain exercises, you will love Puzzled by David Astle. You might also enjoy How to Think Like Sherlock: Improve Your Powers of Observation, Memory and Deduction by Daniel Smith.
You can read more book reviews or buy Clever Commuter: Puzzles, Tests and Problems to Solve on Your Journey by Dr Gareth Moore at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Clever Commuter: Puzzles, Tests and Problems to Solve on Your Journey by Dr Gareth Moore at Amazon.com.
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