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  • Writer's pictureElisha Bae

Puzzle Books: New Favorite Hobby

A lightbulb made of white puzzle pieces on a yellow background

People who know me will know that I love a good mystery. I love reading about it or watching a movie about it - but the thing I love to do most about a mystery is to solve it! When I was younger, there was a book series that had a collection of all sorts of mysteries in the form of puzzles and riddles. I also got my dad to do something similar during our annual Christmas Scavenger Hunt tradition. But I was really missing the idea of an interactive book where there were multiple puzzles for me to decipher one after the other. And I did find just that, my friends. I got the first book of the Journal 29 series.

I think I first heard about Journal 29 (disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with this company. I just had so much fun with this book, so I wanted to spread the joy) when I was reading some informative posts about puzzle books for adults. I proceeded to put it in my Amazon cart but completely forgot about it. Only when my a cappella group started doing Secret Santa, and I had to provide a wishlist for the person getting me a gift, did I finally remember. I was so happy when my Secret Santa got me that book because it was even better than I thought it would be. The puzzles had a mix of levels of easiness to them - they didn't just get harder or were too easy in the beginning. I really had to use all the clues provided on the pages, flipping and turning the book around, searching for things on the internet or on the map, etc. Each puzzle gives you a word or sequence of numbers that you can put into an answer box (online; there's a QR code you can scan for each puzzle), which gives you a key that can be used in later puzzles.

Sometimes, I was prone to overthinking (or just thinking in a way that was completely different from what I was supposed to). If I couldn't solve it within the first hour of looking at the puzzle, I was tempted to just look at the hints/solutions. This was bit of a problem in my life in many areas; I got very anxious if I couldn't find an answer right away or if I wasn't confident with my answer, I would get impatient and want to make sure I was correct by looking at the solution instead of putting the work. But I knew that it would be much more fulfilling if I tried to solve them myself. I was also trying to practice being patient and being okay with trial and error.

Here are some of the puzzles you would encounter going through the book (they have markings because I tried to solve them):

I won't give you the answer or a detailed description of the steps, in case you want to solve it for yourself. But I do want to show you how different all these puzzles are in terms of the way to solve them. For the puzzle on the left, you need to use the key you got from puzzle 37 and go to the website it tells you. You'll see an audio recording (with the soundwaves... hmmm...), and you have to find out the relationship between the recording on the website and the diagram on the page. The puzzle in the middle really stumped me for a while, but I was talking to a friend when a certain topic came up, and then I was able to figure out what the writings next to the monuments meant. Honestly, it's insane how the creators of this book come up with these kinds of puzzles. The puzzle on the right took some rigorous Google searching about the clue on the page and what it symbolized. When I finally figured it out, there was still an interactive component (meaning that I had to do something to the book) to see what the answer was. Oh, the pure bliss when you solve a puzzle that you were stuck on..!! It's truly magnificent.

You do need an internet connection to submit the answers/get the keys, and there's a good chance that you might want to Google something to figure things out. I couldn't do this on the plane because of these reasons, but once I was connected to the Internet, there was no stopping me. I finished this book on the 7th of January already.

And though I haven't actually tried it out yet, I was informed of a book called 'Cain's Jawbow' by Edward Powys Mathers by a friend. This is unlike any other book because the hundred-page murder mystery novel is actually not assembled in the order that it was written! It's up to the reader to figure out which page goes where, and apparently, there have only been four officially documented successes. It makes sense that not many people have 'got it' because there are 100 pages, and for it to be considered the right answer, all pages need to be in the order of how the book was written. It's such an intriguing notion, is it not? To decode a book's events but also try to decipher what the author would have wanted the book/story to look like?

Book cover for Cain's Jawbone

That's why I bought the Limited Edition: Loose Leaf version because I thought it would be easier trying to re-assemble a whole book if the pages are individual 'cards'. The quality of it is very good, in case you are interested. It's not just flimsy like normal paper. I'm going to try it out in the summer, so watch out for a post about either 1. Me proudly presenting that I figured out how the book goes, or 2. Me devastated that after the nth trial of trying to find the answer, none of it seemed to make sense. But that's a post for another day. For now, I'm going to go and buy the second installment of the Journal 29 series :) Happy puzzle-solving, everyone!

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