Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Puzzling Allure of Puzzling

Something a little different today - a two-part post from two booksellers - first, our Puzzle Buyer Jen on what influences what she brings into the store:

I’m not a puzzler, so when it comes to buying puzzles for the store, I rely on some of the booksellers. I’ve come to value Kay and Aaron’s input and advice when it comes to puzzles. I’ve learned to consider the quality of the pieces as well as the quality of the image.

Pomegranate Puzzles are popular for their museum-like images. I’ve also noticed that puzzles published by Galison have garnered quite the fan following. Phat Dog’s Vintage Library Puzzle is one of our all-time bestsellers, and it all started with a recommendation. One day our bookseller, Conrad was helping a customer and she recommended this puzzle to him. Conrad purchased the puzzle and enjoyed it so much that he created a shelf talker for it and asked me to bring more copies in. It’s been on our display for 2 years now. I haven’t seen anything like it!

I think people are especially drawn to puzzles right now because puzzling can be enjoyed alone or with others. I’ve heard that puzzling is quite meditative, and finding solace with your loved ones during these times can perhaps be better enjoyed gathered around a puzzle.

And now from Kay, one of our expert puzzlers & puzzle recommenders:

In addition to being a bookaholic, I'm also a long-time puzzleholic. I've found myself drawn to puzzles more than books over the past few weeks; I guess doing puzzles is a somewhat more peaceful activity right now. Here are some of the 1000 piece puzzles I love, roughly ordered from easiest to hardest (warning: I do like some crazy-hard puzzles, but none of these qualify for that label). Keep in mind that I don't look at the puzzle photo when I do puzzles - I don't go through them as quickly that way. Using the picture may make some easier than my ranking suggests (Sea Anemones for sure).

Vintage Library (linked above) is a fun puzzle of colorful book spines, many with gold foil. This is pretty easy, but not a breeze.

Book Shop is a painting of Shakespeare and Co. in Paris. Warning: it might get you thinking about everything Paris: sidewalk cafes, baguettes, fresh fruit tarts...

Eleanor's Room is a calming, peaceful puzzle. It's helpful to have a good eye for greens when you are working on this.

Sea Anemones has fabulous colors and forms. I LOVE this puzzle. But not looking at the picture made moving nearly finished anemones around a bit challenging.

Night Flight also has beautiful, happy colors. The toughest part of this puzzle is that many of the butterflies are only slightly different from others. This was put together butterfly by butterfly. The purple and orange bodies gave me the most trouble (aka the most FUN).

The Tangled Garden was put together at least 20 puzzles ago, so my memory is a bit fuzzy on this. I don't remember it being particularly challenging, but the muted colors are repeated around the puzzle, so it may be harder than I remember. I loved seeing how the painter used a variety of colors to create wonderful depth in the plants.

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